Monday, January 17, 2005

When It's OK to Call a Cat an Underdog

After living with the late great Mr. Maximoto for over a dozen years it wasn't long that I came to marvel at his winsome personality and many of his quirky antics. Indeed my appreciation for him was so great that I became quite known for being a feline sympathizer to the extent I'd likely sell out my own species should the great kitty world takeover ever occur.

Now that I live with two other wonderful representatives of the feline world I am continuing to learn that though I'm the one with a fancy college degree I may not be the one in this household that has the wisest life philosophy. There's a lot to be said for a life of lying in splotches of sun, forever living in the moment, and occupying an hour of time swatting a sponge ball around the room.

Living with two cats creates as different a dynamic as their personalities are different from Max's. Diego-san and Thompson not only have learned to co-exist but there are times when they team up to show that in this house majority rules and it's not so much about who is responsible for bringing home the food and paying the heating bill.

Take for example the great box conundrum. For years I stored in my basement several cardboard boxes I used when I moved into my house along with some of the better boxes I had gotten in the ensuing years. Max never seemed to pay any attention to them. Days after I brought Thompson and Diego-san to their new home someone had gone downstairs and ripped holes in just about every box. Bite sized pieces of cardboard littered the basement floor. Yet I couldn't exactly yell or punish either one of the boys since I wasn't sure who was responsible.

It only took me a year and a half to figure it out. I recently bought a new futon bed for the upper wing and the frame arrived in a big box. I immediately cut up one side of the box and put it out on the sidewalk for recycling. The other side of the box I put in my office figuring I'd cut it up and put it out during the next recycling cycle.

Diego-san immediately saw the boxtop as the perfect place to rest. He stretched out his impressive black fur covered frame making the cardboard seem as comfortable as the futon itself. Thompson came in and gave away his one true misbehavior. He began gnawing at the edges of the box. If it had been the ever mischievous Diego-san I would have probably scolded him but it's hard to yell at Thompson because he takes it so personal. (He even seems to get upset when I'm hollering at Diego). Plus because the box was going to be ripped up anyway who was I to say that Thompson just wasn't doing his part to help out?

And I gotta say I continue to marvel at how Thompson overcomes his handicap of a missing leg. He not only keeps up with the ever energetic Diego, he often is the one to instigate their dual romps. I swear there are things that Diego does just because he knows that it will be difficult for Thompson to do the same. Diego has taken to drinking his water straight out of the bathroom sink tap. The sink's rim is a couple of inches wide so it is not something that Thompson can easily jump up on to and balance himself on. Plus Thompson is quite satisfied with doing like the rest of us and drinking his water out of a bowl.

Still with Diego's constant race into the bathroom every time I go near the room Thompson's curiosity got the better of him. One night he just had to see why Diego insisted at jumping up on the sink. He started by hopping on the toilet. From there he looked at Diego-san lapping up the trickling water flow. The next night Thompson sat on the edge of the bathtub and as Diego finished his drink he turned startled to see the nearby Thompson gazing up at him. Quite unexpectedly Diego reached over and patted Thompson on the back. I'm not sure if it was out of encouragement or if Diego needed at that moment to determine if it was indeed Thompson sitting ready to jump up on to the sink.

The next evening I was upstairs in the upper wing bathroom brushing my teeth. This fancy new room has a vanity counter and Thompson came moseying up and leaped on to the vanity. He looked at the running water and he looked at his and my reflections in the mirror. Diego-san came racing around the corner, preparing to leap up on to the vanity when he saw that someone else had beaten him to his usual spot. He looked a little confused as he pranced away in the other direction.

Thompson waited until the water was shut off and then he began licking the surface of the sink. Diego-san eventually returned and waited until Thompson was finished and had left the room and then he hopped up onto the vanity, let out a squeal to let me know it was his turn and it was time to turn the water back on. I patted him on the back. It may have been just another night in this household but it was also a reminder of how lucky I am to be sharing these times with these boys.

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