Gordo was a stray cat … or to be more precise, a stray kitten. No one can quite remember how this tiny wild kitten came to be in a pet shop in Northern Brisbane, but one day he found himself behind glass looking at all the humans who walked past.
He came to trust these humans, after all, they fed him and brushed his fur, but a tiny spark of wildness remained within him. You could see it in his ever-vigilant gaze and his tight never relaxed body.
It was probably this whisper of wildness that contributed to Gordo always being the one left behind, locked behind the glass. It didn’t help that he was no looker. His fur was coarse like horses hair. His colours white and grey were nothing to write home about. Hundreds of tiny warm kittens came and went from the shop – soft, fluffy, loving kittens that left for new homes. But Gordo stayed.
Until finally, when Gordo was nine months old, a man took pity on him and took him home to his family. Gordo, the once stray kitten, was homeless no more.
Gordo looked around his new home. He sat on the couches, tried out the human’s laps and prowled through the gardens. He had a family who adored him, who fed him and cared for him. And yet…
…There was a house across the road. This house already had a number of cats living there. There was something about this house that Gordo felt drawn to. He decided that he wanted to live there instead of where he was – and so the campaign started.
He started gently, just walking through the garden and meeting the other cats. They hissed. They didn’t want any new cats moving in. But Gordo thought, “If I can wait nine months behind glass to find a home, I can wait a bit longer”.
Gordo appeared the next day … and the next … and the next. Each day the other cats hissed, and Gordo just sat there. Not fighting. Not hissing back. Just sitting and looking. Finally, after about six months, the other cats decided that Gordo was allowed to sit in their garden and share the sunshine with them.
After a few months, Gordo thought the time was right to start working on the humans in the house. The owners of the house across the road got used to seeing Gordo in their garden. “Hey, Gordo. You know you live across the road and not here – right?” Gordo kept his own counsel.
He decided to start bringing dead rats, snakes, and mice as presents for the humans across the road, leaving them on the doorstep. He couldn’t work out why the humans didn’t eat them, but just threw his carefully caught gifts in the bin. “Humans are strange,” he thought, but he continued to bring presents.
Every few weeks there would be a new present for the humans across the road. The humans started to call him by another name. “Hey Rentacat – you know you don’t live here. You live across the road – right?”
When the humans across the road called in their cats for dinner at night, Gordo learnt to come to the call. Always being the first to respond and the first to the door. But, the humans proved much harder than the cats. They liked him, they talked to him, and they patted him, but he was not allowed inside the house.
As the months turned into years, Gordo kept up his campaign. Every day he would appear in the garden to sit in the sun with the other cats. Every time the humans called, he would come. But he was still the “cat across the road”.
Then one day a tiny ball of white fluff with massive china blue eyes moved into the house across the road. Another cat!
Gordo watched through the glass as this stunningly beautiful cat was hugged, cuddled and loved by the people across the road.
He saw the white cat sleeping on the most comfortable looking couch he had ever seen, playing on a huge cat tree and eating food that smelt divine. And Gordo’s heart sank. “What have I to give? I am not beautiful. I am not soft. I am not fluffy. I am just a once-stray cat”.
For a few days, Gordo didn’t sit in the sun with the other cats across the road. He sulked and felt sorry for himself. But then he decided that if the humans had space in their hearts for another cat, surely they would have space for him too. So he doubled his campaign to move in.
He brought bigger rats. He caught more mice. He ran faster when the humans called. And the humans across the road started to give him little snacks in a bowl by the front door. “We like having you around, ” they said, “but you live in the house across the road”.
Five years after Gordo started his campaign, his current owners bought a new dog to their house. Where his life had been OK in his house, it was now turned upside down.
This new dog loved humans but hated cats with a passion. It took one look at Gordo and flew at him, barking madly.
Gordo took off across the road where he felt safe. He crouched under the car in the driveway, eyes wide, panting with fear. “Now what am I going to do? I can’t go home, but I don’t live here” he thought.
His current owners tried to make the new dog like Gordo. But nothing worked. Every time the dog saw Gordo, he lunged with hate in his eyes.
But, unknown to him, the people from the two houses met and talked for a while. The humans across the street agreed to feed Gordo until things settled down.
So that night, for the first time, Gordo was allowed to come in when the humans called. He stood proudly next to the other cats while they were all fed scrumptious food. He sat on the human’s laps while they stroked him and cuddled him and he snuggled onto the comfy lounge.
After a few days, the humans met and talked again. “Well, Gordo. It looks like you have finally got your wish” said the human from the house across the road. “We have agreed to adopt you. You are one of our family now. Welcome!”
Gordo purred. That night when he curled up on the comfy lounge, he let out a huge sigh. Five long years! His dreams had come true. He was finally in the house that he had longed for and with a family that loved him.
But a thought scratched and tickled in his brain. You see … there was this house just up the street that somehow was calling him.
We are the house across the street, and Gordo is our cat until he chooses otherwise.
Business wisdom can come from the most unusual places. As you think about this story, and turn the threads over in your mind, you may find aspects of yourself in Gordo, lessons that he can teach you and thoughts about your own business.
Update: 2012: Gordo passed away after a car accident. He was a once-stray cat who died a very much loved companion.