Monday, June 7, 2004

The Human Touch or Getting the D.T.'s

It was just only a little over a year ago when the suddenly strangely silent hallways of my modest little brick-sided abode were filled with the pitter patter (and the occasional KER PLUNK) of seven splendid paws scampering all around.

Adjusting to my new housemates has at times been an exasperating experience. Likewise earning their trust that the rules I long ago tried to establish exist for a reason, has been a stifling challenge. Still, not a day has gone by when I don't marvel at something my current cats, Thompson, and Diego-san do. Watching them explore, share common experiences, and learn about life has been about as gratifying as anything I've ever experienced.

I still grieve the loss of the boys' predecessor, the one and only, late, great Mr. Max. A twelve year friendship is a rare thing in my life after all. But just the sheer energy of having two childlike cats in my house is both new and a needed shot in the arm. They both have such different personalities from Mr. Max. I have to admit when I adopted them I wasn't entirely sure I was ready and doing the right thing- a feeling shared by a friend who likely knows me better than most. But I don't regret a moment of our time together and when that friend, the boys' babysitter, left me a message after taking care of them awhile back- about how special she thought they were- it was our best shared feeling in a long, long time. (I think Diego-san's unabashed adoration for her might have swayed her opinion on the matter.)

Diego-san admittedly is an impressive teddy-bear of a guy. He has silky soft long black fur that is impossible not to stroke, and he represents all that is unequivocally inscrutable about his species. He can be fearless. He gets into things, goes places that Mr. Max didn't dare. He can be as aloof as he can be needy and friendly. Diego-san loves to crawl under my covers at night, nose right there next to mine, pawing at me and purring about as deeply as his impressive frame allows.

He is the very definition of mischievous. There isn't an empty bag or box that he feels he shouldn't climb into. Turn on a faucet and he'll plunge right on up, sticking is face right into the flowing water. He greets all my female friends personally and eventually his curiosity overcomes his fear when my male friends stop on by.

We've had our moments. My furniture is starting to look like it's been given a specific Fawn Hall regimen, with threads shredded and hanging by the aforementioned proverbial said thread. After a brief time of sitting on my chest (he's a busy boy after all) Diego-san inevitably will swagger over to my hard earned couch, stretch out and scratch at what he shouldn't as the cardboard contraption that is made for just such activity lies right nearby.

Likewise Thompson has won over my heart just in the nick of time. My introduction of him to others always has to mention his unique physical trait- he's missing a leg after having it amputated after he got it caught in a trap. But it is his very handicap that makes me marvel at how he has grown to trust things over the past year. Loud noises and quick movements still (and rightfully so) make him jumpy. He doesn't like to be picked up but when he chooses to lie on me, he does so endlessly and eternally. It's me that ultimately me will have to get up after an hour or so, as Thompson slumbers deeply and contentedly in a place of unquestionably deserved comfort.

I've really tried hard earning his trust and getting him to believe in life (even when I don't) just a little bit more from the time he arrived in his new home. When he first moved in Thompson wouldn't sleep in the same room as Diego-san and I. Then he began sleeping on the cat tree I placed near my bed. Not too long ago he began to sleep on the foot of my bed (right on my feet).

Thompson still isn't sure of our visitors. Lately after I'm done with my morning shower he'll be waiting for me and he plops his 16 pound frame right at my feet and squirms around, just tempting me to rub his belly. His lone front paw dances out above his face as he licks the top of my feet.

At various points in the day the boys have playtime together. They'll recklessly chase each other throughout the house, up and down stairs, in and out of rooms. Often they'll lie together, Thompson licking Diego-san clean as Diego-san places his big black paw across Thompson's torso. This all feels so much like a different phase of my life but the boys don't allow me the time to dwell on such thoughts too much. Every day still seems so fresh to both and that inspires me at the very time I'm beginning to feel so old and worn out. Yes we are still adjusting to all that is new but we all seem to be in agreement that our current living arrangement is beneficial to all involved.

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