I got my first cat (B) after I found myself alone after a break-up. Having never lived by myself, coming home to an empty house was pretty depressing. I had no idea the difference it would make, but the change was instant. There was always someone home and she was happy to see me, even if it was verbalized in the form of incessant meowing. Henri (when I have him), Hank, and B may not be kids, but they are loved. They make a house a home and a couple of people – a family.
We all know the drill. The mornings are for getting breakfast and a few cat naps in before it’s time to switch rooms. During the week, it’s a short routine followed by a long stretch in the day that’s reserved for catching up on the much needed rest after a tiring weekend. Before long, it’s time to get up for the evening routine. On the weekend, the days are a little longer and there are more demands to socialize and share space. There’s usually a workout or two and some new food to try. But what about when you’ve caught up – when you don’t need a nap and the string has been firmly batted into submission? What do you do when you’ve found some extra time for yourself after the social activities are done and work is on the backburner? How do you walk the line between wasting time, being productive, and making the most of this short life without turning it into a race or only being busy? I’m guessing it has something to do with developing interests and finding a passion, ideally something that sticks beyond just a phase. In the meantime, you’ll find me in one of my usual spots doing one of my usual things, not unhappy but a little bit bored and pleased to see you.
Recently the babies and their moms came over. B wasn’t phased one bit. She walked around like there was nothing out of the ordinary. Hank on the other hand noticed something was off immediately and went into slo-mo mode. You could see that he wanted to check out the new visitors, but he was worried about what he would find and approached the baby carriers with full caution. This is about as close as he got before he decided it wasn’t worth it and went to the bedroom until everyone was gone. I don’t blame him. Those young ones are highly unpredictable, even if they are slow moving.
B can spot a pillow from a mile away. She is built for comfort and knows where to find it. She leans up against my pillow on the bed and finds the soft spots where the pillows are buried under the covers. She lays on them like a queen being hand fed grapes by a few servants. It doesn’t technically have to be a pillow. It can be a cushioned chair, the ottoman, or even a pile of freshly washed sheets. I just haven’t figured out why she always wants to lay on my belly when I’m reading in bed…
We’ve started cooking at home more often. It’s a nice way to save money, try out new cooking skills, and spend time together as a family…and Hank loves to spend time with us when we are cooking. When I start pulling stuff out of the fridge, it isn’t long before he comes around the corner. He wants to check out the food, ideally taking it with him, but after a few pushes aside he’ll settle for watching. That’s when the magic happens. That’s when you have a kitchen buddy.
Hank loves everything about Halloween. He loves the lights. He loves the spiders. He especially loves the skeleton hanging above the window just out of reach. When we first put up the decorations, he had a heyday. He pulled off several of the spiders and relocated them. He thought we needed a few on the floor and not just all on the TV stand. He felt the same way about the lights. He loved batting them down onto the floor. I’d put them back up every day, not because I cared where they went but because I wanted Hank to have toys to bat off the table again.
My two friends were over tonight, each with their new babies, born a few weeks apart. They are still young enough that we talk about their ages in weeks rather than months or years. Of course the talk is about how fast they are growing and changing. The babies have started to smile and hold up their heads on their own. One day the pajamas fit, the next they don’t. It reminded me of how much Hank has changed since we got him. He was tiny at first. Initially, I thought he was older than he was – the shelter told me he was 5 months old – but he kept growing well past the time I had expected him to be full size. I should have recognized the baby face and the crazy kitten biting phase sooner. Even these past few months, Hank is filling out and B is slimming down (I hope!). I usually think of the change from youth to adulthood as a single transition, but as I watch the gradual changes even recently I am reminded that the change is constant. There is no age where you become the adult you will be for the rest of your life. Your face is never fixed. Your body is never static. The record of time is physical. Memories are not just in our head.
There’s something romantic about a cat in the window, especially in the fall when it’s already somewhat melancholy. Maybe that’s just a Seattle thing since the fall is notoriously grey and rainy. I can’t help but feel the twinge of loneliness that I imagine comes from sitting in the window watching the world go by. We’ve gotten to know the cats in the neighborhood – looking for the familiar, occupied cat towers and window sill perches as we walk. Sometimes they notice us, making eye contact and even letting out a meow of acknowledgement every now and then. Other times they are too caught up in watching something that I can’t see or are deep in sleep with their back curled towards the window. They are all beautiful, unique, and, best of all, loved by their parents. Why else would they be given the prime spot in the window with their own seat and an extra blanket?
My search for the perfect toy started as soon as I got B. I was looking for the magic toy that would keep the cats entertained for hours, especially while I was gone. The feather toy and laser pointer were a big hit, but they only lasted as long as I was interested. I tried the rolling balls that you fill with food, but B didn’t care enough to give it more than the cursory glance. I tried the toy that was a ring with a ball (turbo scratcher) that could be batted around in endless circles. B didn’t get it and I gave it away before Hank came around. I’ve tried the randomized mouse toy (pounce) that quickly became predictable and was never turned on again after the automatic shutoff kicked in. Hank loves string, so I thought it was the perfect solution to create a contraption that hung the string just out of reach. Hank was very interested until he figured out that it went nowhere once he managed to grab it. I finally found one toy that Hank loved (peek a prize) and would stick with for an hour as long as I kept finding the balls under the couch and putting them back in the box. In reality, I shouldn’t have been worried about them getting bored while I was gone. They don’t care about being entertained. Also, having a toy that requires no work on my part is missing the point. Now I try to make time to play with them at least a couple of times per day, even if it’s only for a minute. During those few minutes, any toy will do.