|Friday Is Not Amused!|
It is counter-intuitive that what is indisputably the most dignified class of pets are more often than not distinguished by their inelegant moments. This was true of the previous cat that I shared a home with, and is true the two four legged jokers that roam the halls of my current palatial estate. Well, actually it's just a split level suburban, but that's certainly not the way those two see it. As indoor cats, the house is their world, and they rule all of it - with the exception of the downstairs rec area, where the slobbering, loud, undignified, and rather slow dogs are allowed to stay (mostly). The mid level living area, where the human food is stored, prepared, and begged for, is shared in an uneasy way that I suspect serves mostly to entertain the cats.
The first cat I recall sharing space with my wife and I obtained from the pound shortly after getting married. While I had all manner of pets while growing up, I had not enjoyed the company of a pet for the previous six years as my Army barracks and subsequent housing domiciles precluded it. My wife did not grow up with animals, so she was ambivalent to the idea. Baubles delighted us both as she was a cat that insisted on being constantly entertained. If she wasn't ambushing feet left inappropriately exposed from underneath the couch or bed sheet she was clawing your arm off in a battle royal and aggressively exploring her environment. Her most memorable early exploration was almost disastrous (for her). In the middle of the night, I was awakened to plaintive meows and what sounded like an elephant rampaging through the closet. It turned out that she had discovered my fly rod with a fly still attached. Like a fish, she had bitten at the fly, got hooked, and was pulling the pole all over the closet, knocking over boxes and knickknacks in an attempt to escape. The next morning, the vet calmly snipped and extracted the hook protruding from her lip and pronounced her just fine. She had many misadventures after that, none fatal or debilitating, from learning to talk to squirrels that lived in the roof of our apartment, to getting stuck in the walls of our rental home. She died peacefully in our current home, in my wife's arms at the ripe old age of 18 or so, affectionate and connected to the end.
Our current two guys are a bit more reserved. First there is Friday. Friday also came to us from the pound. He has always been my daughter's cat as she picked him out, cared for him, and to this day, remains his slave. His name comes from either the day that we obtained him or a Robinson Crusoe reference, I have never asked or been informed which. In any case he came very close to dying right after we got him. He obtained a cold, which can be very dangerous for any cat, and especially so for a weaker kitten, as cats won't eat if they can't smell. Given his size, the vet only gave him a marginal chance for survival and he had to be force fed with a dropper twice a day. My daughter, determined that he would live, took charge of the feeding, and day be day he got better, until he grew into the bug killing king of the dogs that he is today.
The other cat was obtained on a road trip, shortly after Baubles died. We had stopped on our way home from some distant trip and checked into a motel to get some much needed rest. As there wasn't any food place near the motel still open, we called for pizza. While we were waiting outside, we saw this kitten nosing around the motel parking lot looking for food. When we offered him some pepperoni slices from our pizza, he woofed them down and was more than happy to stay in our room for the night. The next morning, after checking with the motel staff to confirmed the kitten was a stray, we packed the kids and the kitten in the van, and off we went.
When we stopped for gas and a bathroom break, we were careful to not let the kitten get out of the van. However, we were worried about him not having an appropriate place in the van to do his business. I fashioned a halter and leash of sorts out of some string we had so I could 'take him for a walk' at the truck stop. Yeah - sometimes my ideas are amazing and cosmically stupid at the same time! As soon as the kitten's feet hit the ground he remained motionless for a beat or two, then upon realizing he was UNDER a VAN, surrounded by CARS and GIANT TRUCKS that will KILL him, he went ballistic: lunging against the string, hissing, and biting all at the same time. I realized I had to do something quick before he managed to free himself from my makeshift leash, so I reached into that tiny bundle of fury, grabbed the nape of his neck, and tossed him into the van. The result of that brief contact was that my hand and arm were covered by scratches and a few rather painful kitten teeth shaped bites. I told my wife, "That cat is Psycho!".
The name of course stuck as the kids immediately seconded the 'cool name'. It is fortuitous that I didn't use any of the other flowery language that was flowing through my head at the time. Psycho (or 'Tiger' as my wife calls him when she takes him to the vet as she is too embarrassed to let the vet know his real name) is still pretty skittish. He is affectionate, and, like all the other animals in the house, completely dominated by Friday.
The two of them can occasionally be heard late at night running the halls in a rousing game of chase or teasing the dogs at their gate at the top of the stairs. Some nights it's an irritation. Mostly though its a comfort - knowing that it is life taken in the moment as only a cat can do.