When I’m sitting at the table I often get company. If you didn’t know better, you might think that they were on the table to be the perfect companions. Sometimes that’s true, but that’s usually also includes sitting on my lap for warmth. You see, when they are on the table giving me the stare, it means they want something. When both of them are on the table, it means they are hoping to combine their powers of influence. If you guessed it’s food they want, you are right. Of course, after I fed them dinner the table was cleared.
My cats talk to me, and I love talking to them. I have developed a list of things i say to them. When B meows, I say, “I know, B, I know”. It’s a hard life and she needs to know that i get it. When Hank has a particularly bad sneezing fit, I say, “How’s your breathing, buddy?”. I say, “How’s my B?”, or “How’s my boy?” when I get home from work. When the cats are finished with dinner, I say, “Did you get enough to eat, Buddy?” When Hank is trying to get me to play, I say, “Where’s the toy?” Usually when we are eating dinner, there’s plenty of “Hey!” and “That’s mine!”. When I’m petting B’s belly, I tell her, “You’re so fat, B”. I’ve stopped telling her to move over when she’s hogging the bed. It makes no difference. Mostly, it all means the same thing: “I love you” and “I hope you are happy” and “Don’t take my food!”.
*I refuse to follow the “correct” use of quotation marks, because I think the rules are silly.
When I get home from work, I’m usually greeted by both cats. It varies which one gets to me first. Sometimes they are both waiting at the door, wondering when I’m getting home. Other times, it takes them a few minutes to make it out of their respective sleeping caves. They walk out slowly with squinty eyes and stretch as they make their way over. I try not to go straight to the food, which I’m sure is what they really want. Instead I spend a few minutes giving them attention and pets, which can be challenging when there is two of them and one of me. B likes to get her back scratched while hunkering down on her cardboard scratchpad. Otherwise, she’s always moving away from you, making her just out of reach. Hank likes to stay in one spot and get two handed full body rubs. I always worry that I’m neglecting one of them, especially B since she’s harder to pin down. When they are both in range it’s a mental adjustment to pet one and scratch the other, unless maybe you are a drummer. I am usually on the floor at this point, with both arms stretched out. It only lasts a minute or two, at which point I give up and go get their dinner.
When we started looking for a 2nd cat I knew I wanted one that looked like B – just the right shade of orange brown with tiger stripes. I didn’t even consider taking home a black and white cat, despite the fact that my boyfriend was hoping for one. It’s not that I don’t like other styles of cats. All cats (well, most) are beautiful in their own way. This issue is really about symmetry. It would be jarring to have two clashing cats in the same house, and I believe a lot of other people feel the same way. In my circle of friends, several have a matching pair of pets. One friend has two long-haired cats that are very similar looking even though they aren’t the same color. My other friend has two short-haired cats with athletic builds. I’ve had two dogs that are siblings, and we’ve all seen the people walking down the street with matching white terriers. After observing this phenomenon in our environment, we can (anecdotally) say that this is a statistical trend that should be investigated further.
Everything is better with a friend and my cats make the best friends. I love how they generally migrate to whichever room I’m in, just to hang out. They don’t need to be entertained. It just so happens that what I’m doing can be very entertaining, but that’s besides the point. There isn’t a lot of drama and they don’t need to talk too much. B will do the talking for you if you are willing to listen. I regularly have to deal with hair pulling if I miss their expectations on the timing of breakfast, but that’s a small compromise that’s part of any good friendship. Hank likes to see what I’m working on and often gives me input when he thinks the cursor is in the wrong place. B doesn’t mind when I work either as long as the keyboard leaves some room on my lap for her. Overall, good friends are hard to find, but I count myself lucky to have two of the best ones right here at home.
The cats each have their favorite spots around the house. It’s the spot I check first when I get home, that is, if they don’t meet me at the door first. A few of the spots don’t stick for one reason of the other. Others are like an old glove. B’s favorite spot at the moment is on the cushion of a chair near the window and on the towel hidden deep in the closet. Hank’s favorite spot is on the bed in the guest bedroom, although he sometimes prefers the scratchpad placed under the bed just for him. My favorite place is the right side of the couch and the left side of the bed, but really my favorite place is home.
Hank’s first experience with dogs was pretty traumatic. It wasn’t a good decision to agree to watch a friend’s dog within less than a week of adopting Hank. I didn’t know him well enough to know that he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat in new situations. I was especially worried since I co-parent two dogs and it is extremely important that everyone gets along. Thankfully the next time dogs came to visit, Hank was a completely new cat. He was in charge of his domain and didn’t concede the living room easily. He kept pushing the boundaries, to the point where I had to push him aside at dinner time. He would get a jump on the dogs and eat out of the bowl while it was still on the counter. Henri would never let Hank anywhere near his food, but Hank still tries to find other ways to get the upper hand. It’s a hilarious battle of wills, where the winner isn’t always pre-determined.
Did I mention that B (in front) wasn’t initially a big fan of her new brother, Hank? The idea of getting a second cat came about when B was past her initial stress meowing but on to her meowing-for-attention phase. You might think you know what I’m talking about, but this was seriously a level or two past normal. I even voice recorded her one day when I got home from work when she would follow me around for 10 minutes despite having food in her bowl. I sent it to a friend and he said it was “off the hook”, or maybe it was “off the chain” – I’m not sure about the hip lingo these days. Either way, after a year it was clear that she needed a friend. Who we brought home one November Saturday, however, was not that friend. After Hank warmed up to his surroundings, he began his transformation into the king of the condo, which included terrorizing B, who’s meowing instantly stopped because it seemed to attract too much attention. After some time (and forced separation), they have found a comfortable companionship. They are often on the same couch or even in the same closet. Hank has started grooming B’s head, although that is frequently followed by an attempt at her jugular. When one of them finds themselves alone for too long, we will sometimes hear a lonely howling, like they are lost in a maze of rooms. Despite all the togetherness and hints of fondness, I’m still not convinced it isn’t all about who has the better sleeping spot. The one who got there first doesn’t want to leave, and the one who wants it is willing to share.