My most recent cat companion had a prickly personality. (Which is clearly exemplified by the accompanying picture, don’t you think?) She relied upon me for food, to clean her litter box and to provide the occasional chin scratch when she was in the mood. The rest of the time she liked to be alone.
We invite animals into our lives with the hope that they will offer comfort and support when we are feeling unsettled or restless, in need of reassurance. That they will offer that unconditional affection and be available when we are having a moment, even if the moment is in the wee hours of the morning when a human companion wouldn’t feel terribly obliging.
It took a couple of years for the cat and I to reach a state of some type of peaceful coexistence after dancing around each other. She came to me as a full grown, though small, three year old feline, pushed out of her original home by more aggressive cats. I came into the relationship still mourning my beloved previous cats who had each died a few months from one another at the relatively young age of fourteen.
She had long fur and delusions of grandeur that her stature could not support. The expression on her face was often a bit sour, discontent so my older son called her Captain Angry Pants, which bruised her tender ego. My sister was enthralled with her delicate size, soft fur, and her beautiful markings but since my sister is part of a package deal that includes my three rambunctious nieces, the cat disdained her attentions as well.
She came to us bedraggled and quite wary, used to the name Itty if she noticed a name at all. She had lived with her mother and father in quiet comfort, except for the dog, at a coworker’s house until the entrance of four more cats disrupted everything and she became a target, and began to misbehave. We initially let her roam, until she proved herself unworthy by marking the newest piece of furniture in the house, so we closed her into my home office to acclimate in private.
This strategy proved more successful and she eventually came up to me in a low to the ground, slinking and quick to run manner when I would go in and sit quietly. Interestingly, she first responded best to the person who became her sworn enemy, my younger son. She actually bumped up against him, where she would just make quick passes under my raised hand for bit of touch therapy. As she adjusted and cleaned herself up, her regal view of herself became quite apparent and so I began to call her Anastasia, Kitty of Mystery – but her disdainful expression earned her the nickname Miss Kitty Thing-thing to help her to understand her place in the household.
I didn’t exactly start our association ready and open to bond either. I had woken up a couple of months prior on a work day February morning to find my cat, my baby girl in the corner fading. I think that she was waiting for me to wake up, because she breathed her last within moments. Of course there had been no sign of illness before that moment, as cats are wont to do. My beloved cat and I had been together since her mother had pushed her out of the nest, almost as soon as she had opened her eyes. She was fierce and feisty from that first meeting, clawing and shredding my hands when I fed her with a bottle, regardless of how tightly I would try to bundle her into a towel before we’d begin. Over the years she dug deeply into my heart and made it clear that I was in hers as well.
Miss Kitty Thing-thing needed a place to live, but I just wasn’t ready to offer her a home any more than she seemed to want one. We struggled, often out of sync, to create a relationship. I rarely felt that I was getting much out of the relationship and she was most content when left to her own devices. Finally I understood, in a small way, what many people have against cats. They don’t need you like dogs do. Some make it clearer than others.
The right cat companion will want you, will seek out your company, as my previous cats have done. This one just didn’t have it in her, and I didn’t really try either.
On a cold February day this past winter she breathed her last, having barely shown signs of feeling a bit off. We had been uneasy companions for 5 years. She had been a bit more open to affection in recent days, had even sought me out, which I had seen as a good sign but clearly misread.
This time I am going slow, putting in more thought before I seek out a new kitty companion.
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