The added dimension of cat-ness

Foxy enjoying fall

Foxy’s favorite fall pastime

I’ve lived with cats all of my life.

When I was little girl in South Dakota, I would coming running home after school to see the kittens.

My mother forbade us to touch them until their eyes opened, about ten days after birth. That ten days seemed to last forever! Finally eyelids would open to eyes of the deepest blue, and tiny kittens would sprawl about the birthing box. I was entranced.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom, always looking for ways to gather in more income to supplement my father’s modest salary. One year she determined that the best way to do this was to breed Siamese cats. The two kittens she picked were elegant, but before we could see what the resulting litters might bring, my father was transferred overseas, where my pets were not cats, but rather three partridges that we kept in the back yard in Tehran, Iran. And that’s the subject of another story.

But when I was first married, my young husband and I actually did breed Siamese cats. We were starving college students at the time with no extra money. To feed our cats, we made trips to the local meat packing plant for “offal,” specifically kidneys that we ground and cooked with corn meal. This concoction we fed to our rapidly burgeoning family of felines.

At one point we had four simultaneous litters of kittens, their respective moms and one magnificent stud cat wandering about our small two-bedroom house. And then the landlady we were renting from discovered our small business venture and told us we had to leave–immediately! We sold the kittens, gave away most of the moms, and kept one or two when we packed the U-Haul and moved to different digs.

Leaf retreats to his coffee table bunker when he feels insecure

At this stage in my life, I am down to two cats.

One, Foxy (above), is a diminutive brown tabby who has been my inseparable companion for the past nine years. She is, in fact, sleeping next to me as I write this post.

The other, Leaf, is a dark gray-and-white mega-male, some three times larger than Foxy, and seven years younger. I acquired him about a year ago, when a good friend became ill and could no longer care for him.

They are ill-matched in terms of size and age. And both are used to being only cats. I was concerned when Leaf entered the family, but they have developed an elaborate system of cat etiquette.

Leaf gets to eat first, and Foxy watches. Foxy sleeps with me at night, close by my ear, while Leaf sleeps at the foot of the bed. When I lay down for an afternoon nap, the prime position of nap companion goes to Leaf. He watches in fact, and jumps up on the couch before I do. But if Foxy should happen to wander by, he immediately gets down and relinquishes his spot to the brown fur ball who cuddles close. Each has their own nest basket on my writing desk, and neither invades the other’s.

They don’t like each other, but they seem to tolerate each other’s company. I think one would be lonely without the other, like an old married couple that fights all the time but would be desolate living alone.

How did they figure out this arrangement? I wish I knew. But it seems to work for them.

What about you? Are you a cat person or a dog person?
What richness enters your life because they are there? 

Let me hear what you think!