Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Humble Home for Wayward Kitties

To live in my house you have to at least be versatile. But what we're really looking for is a strong acting ability.

The newcomer to the house, who his foster mother dubbed "Dribble" and since has been renamed Thelonious, is 100 percent cat although there are times like he doesn't quite seem to realize that yet. Theo is way too friendly. He wobbles when he walks, likely a side effect of having a child sit on him and injure his back legs. This same injury prevents him from jumping up on furniture. Instead he tends to pull himself up with his front two paws.

Yet Theo in a way is more fortunate than his roommate Thompson, the three-legged cat. Thompson is missing his front left leg, a victim of getting it caught in a trap. I continue to marvel at how this doesn't slow him down much. Indeed he always seems to be in a hurry since his balance seems much better when he is moving fast rather than hopping slowly along.

Theo and Thompson both adore Diego-san, the third cat in the house. Diego has long silky black fur, an impressive massive tail and he swaggers when he walks. His curiosity is relentless and whatever he seems to get into Theo and Thompson are sure to follow his lead. For example, Diego-san loves to drink his water straight out of the tap. Whenever I turn on water he comes prancing into the room, hops up on the sink and then has this routine of pawing at the porcelain as if he is actually digging for his water. He doesn't mind getting the top of his head wet and running water seems to fascinate him.

For a year and a half Thompson didn't have any interest in this activity until one day Diego's sheer enthusiasm got to be too much for Thompson to ignore. At first he would hop into the bathroom and sit on the back of the toilet or the bathtub and merely watch Diego drink. Eventually he got a little braver and soon he was precariously balancing himself on the rim of the sink. He wouldn't drink from the stream of water, instead waiting until I turned the faucet off and then he would lick the remaining drops of water from the surface of the sink. Soon he too put aside his aversion to getting his face a little wet and began licking the running water.

Theo was quick to pick up on this ritual in our home. Now every time I turn on a faucet three cats (ten and a half good legs between them) come scampering from various locations into whatever room I'm in. The other two boys often nudge poor Diego-san off the sink.

The difference between living with three cats and two is that there is now rarely a peaceful quiet moment to be had. One of the three is always up to something. Theo loves to badger Thompson- so much so that Thompson always seems to be looking over his shoulder sensing something is about to leap out at him. The two have daily wrestling sessions (Thompson also loves to wrestle with Diego) but at the end of the night, no matter how rough the fighting gets, Thompson takes it upon himself to clean the other two.

In the House for Wayward Kitties/This Feline Circus being one dimensional is not an option. Diego does a passable owl imitation with his sharp piercing stare. He also is the size of small black bear and despite his sometimes standoffish, I'm in charge here personality, he really does have a teddy bear of a personality. He loves to snuggle.

Thompson never seems to be at ease. Every unexpected noise causes him to take notice like a frightened little bunny rabbit. Yet I've never met a better napper. He'll lie on my chest for hours if I let him.

Theo's trick is that with a little help he can imitate a penguin. His white underside contrasts nicely with his soft black coat and as I rub his belly he'll sometimes waddle on his back legs. His coloring also could pass for that of a skunk although I'm not sure how he would develop that imitation and I'm not sure I'd want him to.

The latest health care crisis is that Theo has seemed to have developed a case of feline herpes. Who knew such a thing existed? He spent all of Tuesday night sneezing. He would try to clean his face and then spastically shiver as if he couldn't quite control his front legs. Every time he sneezed the other two boys jumped a foot in the air. I took him to the vet who said that as long as Theo continued eating he probably was OK. Now it was my turn to act. I pretended like I understood that these are just cats and that the sneezing was only a symptom that would someday go away. Still Theo in a very short time has won over my heart and I pray that he'll be healthy soon.

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