Tuesday, March 5, 2013
It's Raining Cats and Dogs
Tess, my German shepherd, was an only child for about six months after she came to live with me. For the first four months she did share her space with my three-legged "torby" cat, Micky, but Micky was old, sick, and obese, and one day she passed on. I wasn't ready for another cat right away, but when I was finally ready to add a buddy for Tess, I ended up with something not quite a cat, but not really anything else either.
My boyfriend, the Cowboy, likes to joke that my house should host a reality show. As I have no serious work drama, friend drama, family drama, or boyfriend drama (he hopes), my drama lies among my furry four-legged companions. I currently have three cats and Tess, and all four of them are neurotic and codependent to the nth degree. I have had pets before. I grew up with pets. As a teenager, I worked at the Humane Society and at one point my family owned two dogs, three cats, two ferrets, and a pony. They were all simultaneously wonderful and irritating in their own way, but I have never owned animals like the ones I have now. They are something else. People that come over including my boyfriend say the same thing. The Cowboy often tells me (and often tells others when it comes up in conversation) "I have never seen animals like yours. They are so different from any other pets I've ever encountered."
Tess is one thing. She, like all dogs, believes she is human. Percy, my black male cat, believes he is above human, like most cats. But he also has split personalities, I think. Sometimes he thinks he's a dog (which could have come from his living with Tess for a year and never seeing another cat), sometimes he thinks he's a cat, and sometimes he thinks he's an elephant and behaves accordingly as he gallops through the house on feet that were never designed to make so much noise. Most of the time he believes he is the sun and that all things grow and bask in his awesomeness.
Percy arrived exactly a year after Tess and from the very beginning he had an attitude that was larger than life. They tell you at the animal shelter where I adopted him that you don't choose your pet, they choose you. Percy and I chose each other. Upon entering the animal shelter at this point in my life I decided that I was definitely getting a black cat this time. I had wanted one since I was a teenager. I always got sidetracked by other more needy kitties (or bewitching ones in the case of my beloved, late Mindi, a blue point Himalayan with personality to spare) so my dream never came true. This time, however, the black would prevail. I entered the cat room and was immediately attacked by an adorable tabby who would not stop winding around my legs and trying to jump on my shoulders. I carried some around, cuddled others, bent down to pet more and then my eye was caught by a black lump on a cat bed. The black lump did not stir, did not even raise its head at the entrance of a potential new friend, and I decided to go check it out, hoping that not only was the lump all black, it was also female, as that was another of my criteria. I reached over to touch the head of the black lump and it immediately sprung to its feet, rumbled in its throat and began rubbing on my hand with its beautiful black head, purring all the while. I checked the collar and name tag - name was "Bo." A male, the shelter staff told me, about two years old, who had been picked up just wandering down Fifth Street, one of the busiest streets in town. Once I had his attention he would not leave me alone. I picked him up and he snuggled so hard under my chin I thought I might get whiplash. No doubt about it, this was the one I was taking home. My only concern then was how well he got along with dogs. The staff had no idea, had never seen him with a dog. No worries, he seemed friendly enough. When I got him home and let him out of his little box, Tess' nose all over the place as she tried to figure out what I'd brought home for her, he immediately walked up to Tess, sniffed her, and flopped on his side. He rolled over, allowed her to sniff him all over, and purred loudly and contentedly. From that day on he and Tess were inseparable. They ate together, shared each other's food dishes, slept together, and played together. They didn't play normally either. Tess would "mouth wrestle" with Percy, where she used her muzzle to encourage him to attack her with his paws and he would literally launch himself at her, paws spread, ears back, and clamp her around the neck then proceed to ride her like a bull. She loved it. He loved it. They never hurt each other though. Tess' teeth are formidable, long white canines that could easily inflict damage, with the capability of the typical "German shepherd bite" at 750 pounds per square inch pressure. But she was very gentle. And Percy has these tiny mitts with ridiculously long, sharp claws that no amount of clipping keeps under control. My favorite feature of his besides his large green eyes are his canines which hang from the roof of his mouth and extend past his bottom lip giving him the appearance of a tiny black sabertooth tiger. I call him my little vampire kitty knowing full well that if he had about 20 extra pounds on him he would try to have ME for dinner regardless of how lovable he is.
Unfortunately Percy and Tess' dynamic has changed a little with the arrival of two more cats, tuning Percy into the fact that he may be more like these two new strange creatures instead of the one he's been sharing a bed and food bowl with for a year. They are still best friends, but the two other cats definitely throw some drama and color into the living arrangements, and as with all siblings, there are squabbles, rivalry, and the competition of each of the four's certainty that he or she is the center of the universe.
Alert the observatory.
But more on that later.