I can see it now: I’ll be one of those old crazy cat ladies with the long snarly gray hair, surrounded 24/7 by 68 cats. I was raised with in a standard two-parent, two-kid, two-cat household, so that’s the pattern I followed this time. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve adopted two more; four is very manageable. In all actuality, we probably have four now, condensed into two physical feline bodies. And they are the coolest. Behold…
We saw Murphy first. I had always wanted a little orange/red-and-white tiger-striped/tabby cat, and there he was. He was so calm and easygoing, with such a sweet face that we bonded rather quickly. And then he promptly fell asleep, right on my partner’s chest. Even in the chaotic environment of the SPCA, he was perfectly comfortable sacking out up against a complete stranger.
Murph is our true special needs kitty. Whether it was a mis-breed or maternal malnutrition or whatever else, he ended up rather retarded. Of all the feline instincts, only the important one–the litter box instinct–remains intact. Otherwise, he doesn’t bathe himself, and he possesses no predator instinct. He’s mildly attracted to potential prey, but he only plays with it, not knowing that the next step is to kill it for food. Instead, he loves to air-launch and lunge against the back door, in attempt to play with the slow-flying June bugs in March during the morning or evening twilight.
Measuring as big as my pillow, he runs into the room and jumps up onto the bed at night, in an attempt to beat me to my side of the bed so he can claim his territory. It’s his one display of the act of thinking ahead.
He’s a few animals rolled into one, though. Usually, he’s a dog, with big feet and a slightly oily coat that he never washes. Piss him off, though, and he becomes a cougar. His meow even transforms instantly from loud shrill kitten into the growl and snarl of a cougar. If he sees you as a threat, he will lash out and put the smackdown on you. He can kick a human’s ass, if he needs to. The need for anger management classes is quite rare, though. Strangely enough, he can have that kind of reaction after an encounter with catnip.
We knew it the day we saw her. There she was, the quiet little tuxedo, perching way back in the cage. Behind the others, she looked out calmly and self-assured, simply knowing that she would be seen. The assistant gently scooped her from the back and handed her to me, and I already know the little tyke was a little off: in this environment of stale urine odor, echoing noise, and horrible fluorescent light, this little black-and-white ball of silk was purring.
Yes, at 6 weeks old, Maddie’s personality was already formed. We knew she’d be intelligent, too much so for her own good, and mischievous. We also knew she had a cute little ‘tude. Her eyes seemed to communicate a subtle but potent personality instability, although it was the kind of look that would only be recognized as such by an experienced cat person. I tread lightly at first, and it took me a little while to realize that she wasn’t going to lash out at all. Underneath all that electricity, she was (still) purring.
Nothing surprises us anymore when it comes to her. She can levitate momentarily (think “The Matrix”), where she spontaneously springs four feet into the air from a stationary position. She doesn’t know she’s a cat–or maybe she does, but resents it, and doesn’t want to admit it. She thinks she is (or, at least she would rather be) a dog. She plays more than she sleeps. She designates certain unlikely objects as her toys and disperses them in strategically in high-traffic places, right in the middle of the walkway, where we can’t help but to see them. Usually, she is crouched by whichever toy is closest to where we are at the time. Based on a lot of research on both personality attributes and physical characteristics, she is almost sure to be half Turkish Angora, and a quarter each of Persian and Bombay.
Both of them are so cool they piss ice cubes. Both sleep on the floor on their backs. Both personalities were allowed to develop and come into their own, so neither are very timid about expressing themselves and who they are. Murphy is more timid and slightly less comfortable around strangers than Maddie is (she’s downright fearless, almost to a fault), but even he will let it all hang out around someone he’s seen a few times. Both of them are talkative and playful and relaxed (although both can be slightly jumpy–I wonder if they were startled by a loud noise as kittens or if they got freaked out by a huge thunderclap during a storm or something). They are polar opposites, the yin and yang. Both enrich our lives in a way that simply can’t be duplicated. I can only hope we enrich theirs at least half as much.