One year (plus a little) ago, Anna gifted me with the sweetest gift anyone has ever given me, the little cat, Ember. The spontaneity is part of what made the gift so sweet. But Ember was a creature Anna knew I would love. And she was so right.
When she first became mine, she was a flighty, timid little thing that I doubted would ever be a house pet. She was scared of everything, scared of the dogs, scared of the ordeal of getting past the dogs to come into the house, scared of any sudden movement, etc., etc., etc. So I also doubted that she would ever be my cat, in the sense that she would respond particularly to me. Now, cats aren’t exactly lauded for their human bonds and really have kind of a reputation in the other direction, but over the months, Ember has become very specifically my cat. Enough so that she went on a hunger strike while I was in Alaska over the summer, and the tiny cat became the emaciated cat. She’s better now.
What a transformation little Ember has undergone! She went from being a stand-off-ish, aloof creature, to being a lively member of our small household. I love waking up to find her curled up in a little ball in the crook of my knees, or sleeping right on my chest. Frequently she is awake before I am, but as soon as she hears me moving around, she comes up the ladder into the loft, talking and chattering, and begs for attention. She has become a study buddy for some online classes I’ve been taking, and a movie-watching buddy on sister night. She keeps me company when I’m folding laundry, or cooking, or reading, and has her favorite places she likes to hide. She comes to her name, loves to talk, and if she happens to be inside when I get home, she greets me eagerly. What a darling.
People who don’t like cats just haven’t met the right one.
This cat’s instinct is up. I’m afraid it is awfully fun to watch the dogs chase him. He gets so worked up and shoots straight up the nearest tree. Hilarious. The dogs don’t stand a chance. Not to mention, if they ever did catch up with him, they’d have a whirlwind of razor-sharp claws to deal with. As a young kitten, he frequently got himself stuck up by the downspouts and couldn’t figure out the way down. At first, we rescued him. One of the times I found him up there he was panting – yes, panting. Cats aren’t supposed to pant. It was pathetic. We finally decided that he’s a big boy and needs to figure this out on his own. So now we leave him. But this escape location was a new one. I laughed and laughed. It took him awhile to work up the nerve to jump down.
He was a little ticked. Sarah’s comment on the state of this cat was, “It’s awesome when Saber is mad.” Pretty much summarizes Saber. And we love the little (big) guy.
My cat is always one of the highlights of my day. Her little pointy face, her little purr, her little talking sounds – Cats are one animal that seem to be this close to being able to speak. I look into her wide eyes, and she seems to really have something to say. Ember and I talk back and forth, and she follows me around like a little puppy, or watches me while I’m doing this and that. Precious. After Luna’s sad ending (kidney stones and complications, as far as we know), and Ember urinating blood the week after Luna died, I’ve been more inclined to err on the side of caution (i.e., spoiling the cats) and give the cats a small amount of canned cat food most days, watered, to make sure they’re not dehydrated, since apparently that is one way to try to prevent kidney stones from occurring in the first place. Anyway, the cats aren’t complaining. I sure love their happy eating noises.
These cats may be a little spoiled. But they’re happy. And they love me.
We have another little member of our cat family to introduce to the world. Meet Saber. He looks harmless and innocent, but he is not. This is another one of Kashka’s kittens, from her summer litter. She had four beautiful children, and three of them were adopted away. But not Saber. Which is a good thing. Because as irritating and obnoxious as Saber is, we had all fallen in love with him. He has a motorboat purr, dreamy amber eyes, and a cuddlebug personality. He loves affection. Until today, which was his first solo day outside, we would have to shut him up in the office when we were away from home or at night, since he has a proclivity towards destruction. If any cat was capable of arson, Saber would be. He let us all know that he hated being by himself by howling and yowling as I’ve never heard a cat howl or yowl. And not just any howl or yowl. “Yow-OW-OW-owwwwww!” Seriously. And, unfortunately, because he is so much fun to torment, we occasionally shut him up just to listen to him yowl. And then we let him out again and cuddle him to death. He climbs the beams in our cabin, terrorizes his half-siblings, terrorizes us, then comes and begs for loving, bumping his pink little nose against our faces with his motorboat purr reverberating peacefully.
Cats are such paradoxical creatures. Loving and sweet and terrifying all at once. One moment, the most destructive, active creatures. The next moment, the quietest pictures of peace and tranquility.
Gift giving isn’t much a part of our American culture. I’m not really sure why, but generally speaking we don’t give gifts unless it is reciprocal – For instance, at Christmastime, or for a specific reason, such as birthdays. But Anna surprised me the other night by gifting me little Ember, one of her precious cats! It has been probably close to 10 years since I had my own pet, and this cat just tickles me. Part of Anna’s rationale was that the two boy cats, the more gregarious of the fleet, get a lot of attention while little Ember, who is shy and rather flighty, doesn’t get nearly enough. She is afraid of the dogs, so she won’t volunteer to come into our house unless the coast is completely clear, and her mom has disowned her. Ember’s two best friends are her brother and Ginger, the yellow stray we’ve semi-adopted. Anna figured rightly that I would love on little Ember. The mark of a good friend (or sister) is knowing how to give good gifts, and this was possibly the sweetest gift she could have given me. I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular kitten – She was the smallest of the litter of two, and her big brother would often push her off the teat and leave her meowing pitifully. She was very funny looking as a baby, with strange coloring and huge bat-like ears and an oddly-proportioned face, but she has turned into quite the distinctive little tortoiseshell cat. Ironically, she is also the kitten I named!
I came inside this afternoon and found Luna, the big grey boy cat, curled up in the sunlight, living the carefree, delightful life of a very happy cat. He is almost ready to be booted back outside after his ordeal as an invalid, which I think he has enjoyed quite a bit, actually. Someone (who will remain anonymous) slammed his tail in the door and degloved two inches of it or so. After receiving this recommendation from a few people, we did minor surgery at home to remove the exposed bone (some of which fell off on its own before we got to it), eventually got him a cone since he kept re-opening the wound, and kept it clean and covered. Thanks to him chewing it back open once or twice before we got him the cone, it took two whole months for the thing to heal, but it is now completely closed up and the hair is all growing back. He is now pretty much as good as new. Dumb cat.
What bliss. These cats are so manipulative.