Saturday, January 22, 2011
Falling in love for the third time
With each cat's arrival, I watched them for hours trying to get a little insight into the cat they would become. Would they be adventurous or reserved? Cuddly or independent? Silly or sophisticated? How quickly would they learn the (admittedly few) rules of the house? Would they love me as much as I planned to love them?
It doesn't take me long to fall in love with a cat. There's something about cats that speaks to my innermost self, and when a kitten comes along I quickly fall in love with the promise of the cat they might one day become. It wasn't any different with this bunch.
The second time I fell in love was somewhere around the time when Bad Kitty Bo and Musette were around five, with Weebs bringing up the rear, being two years younger than her feline roommates. Somewhere down the line all traces of kitten-hood got washed away, leaving behind grown-up cats, each of them charming in their own right. There were no more questions about who they would be, for they were all deeply engaged in being them.
Bad Kitty Bo was a relentless hunter of voles and rabbits, returning home to refuel, sleep or show off his prized kills, with a personality so open and engaging that everyone in the neighborhood knew who he was.
Musette never failed to remind me of a genteel Southern lady. Were she in human form, I could easily imagine her soft of voice, gentle in nature and always wanting to make everyone around her feel happy and comfortable.
Weebles remained a goofball, bonding much more closely to the dog than any of her feline companions. Though her refusal to comprehend the word "no" could be maddening at times, her irrepressible spirit more than made up for her lack of manners.
The years have slipped by, much in the same manner that our winter fog creeps in and out of the yard on January mornings. Bad Kitty Bo will be fourteen in a few days. Muse is most likely already there. We acquired her when she had already reached full size, though still quite young. Weebs will be twelve come mid-summer.
This is the winter when there is absolutely no doubt left...our feline family has passed through the doors of Senior Town.
Muzzles are graying, faces becoming more angular. The idea of hanging outdoors is more appealing than the act itself, causing them to quickly ask to come back inside to warmth and softer, yielding surfaces. Scratching their chests leads to the realization that the breast to bone ratio is engaged in a subtle, but pronounced change.
We spend more time carrying them, lifting them to the spaces they seek, and we do so willingly. Hands caress them with a lighter touch, voices are softer, matching the gazes they level our direction. Two of them now snore when they sleep...and we find it adorable.
Now is the time of my third love for them. A love of everything they've ever meant to me, deepened by the knowledge that the road before us is far shorter than the one we've tread thus far. The head rubs, neck skritches and cuddles are given with great deliberation. I love you is whispered into the soft spot of their fur, just below the jawline, as they curl up to doze. They are warm, safe, and loved.