Friday, October 3, 2008

A Boy and His Cat

The tale (or is it tail?) must be told of a boy and his kitty, and the strange yet wonderful bond between them.
When Kittyboy came home from the hospital, our female cat Harriet had a predictably feline reaction. She looked, sniffed, and left. That was absolutely fine with us. Magic would creep up on his belly, sniff, and if Husband or I so much as blinked, take off like a shot for the other end of the house. All that we know of his history is that he was picked up by Animal Control as a "nuisance" and was believed to be an abandoned pet. Now we think he was probably put out after a baby came home and the new parents felt he was too affectionate, because once he figured out that he wouldn't be yelled at or in trouble for being close to the baby, he would lay down right next to him. He would put his head on our son's arm when it was outstretched. He would nuzzle him. He started HOLLERING from the nursery if the baby wasn't in it - we didn't know if that was "My baby is missing! Where is he? My baby is missing!" or "The bassinet isn't breathing! What's wrong with my baby? The bassinet isn't breathing!" Anyhow, we'd have to yell so he could find us, or go and get him, and show him where his baby was.
Above is Kittyboy, at four months chronological age, one month developmental, starting to roll to his side. He did this primarily when his kitty was nearby, because Magic was fascinating and fluffy and COOL, and Kittyboy wanted to see him up close. So he started rolling - "the better to see you, my fluffy!"
Magic provided a lot of motivation to stretch, reach, move in general, and would never, ever move away when Kittyboy got close. Kittyboy once stretched out his hand across Magic's upturned paw, and Magic just barely, barely flexed - Kittyboy started crying, and Magic took off. There was the finest, most delicate little red line on Kittyboy's wrist, from a claw just barely brushing his skin. Magic mauls us when he's in a loving mood, he kneads us with these massive scythe-like claws that once ripped a hole in a denim dress when he leapt off my lap. And he was just trying to be affectionate with his baby, and he was being just as gentle as he possibly could! Kittyboy suffered no lasting effects and was reaching for his kitty again after a nap, but Magic has gone to elaborate lengths since to have his claws as sheathed as physically possible. We would have to RESCUE the cat from his boy, because Kittyboy believed him to be stuffed, and treated him accordingly! Grab two handfuls of fur and skin and puuuuull to get the kitty situated the way he wanted. Magic wouldn't even LEAVE when Kittyboy got rough! "No, leave kitty's ears alone!" "No eyes!!!" "NICE!!! NICE!!!" We would actually see Magic lay down right next to his boy - and then brace for impact. Then Kittyboy found that when you squeeze a cat's paw, shiny curved things come out, and he thought those were interesting and wanted to explore paw anatomy further, and THAT was quite a panic moment for Magic, who was so paranoid of hurting him. Baby grabbing at hind paws, kitty pulling himself across the carpet using front claws only rather than risk using the claws that the baby was reaching for.
In late December last year, we were trying to get Kittyboy falling asleep in a crib - not a swing, not a rocking car seat, but a crib. Earlier that month, he had suddenly developed big-time separation anxiety, going into a panic any time someone left a room. That was very hard on both him and me, because I had gotten used to being able to leave to get a bottle, go to the bathroom, short little trips that out of the blue were made impossible. Husband tried playing peekaboo around a doorway one night to get across the idea that "Daddy leaves! Daddy comes back!" and had to stop when Kittyboy got hysterical. So I didn't have very high hopes for him falling asleep without either one of us in the room (rocking the car seat) or the illusion that someone was there (the swing). And the first night, it was a miserable failure - he was halfway asleep with me standing there shushing, then Magic jumped in the crib! Kittyboy woke up fully, "My kitty's here, time to PLAY!" and it just didn't work. I resolved that the next night, Magic would be shut in the bathroom at bedtime. I forgot, though. And that time, Kittyboy was fussing and not going to sleep, Magic jumped in the crib AGAIN - walked around his baby and laid down next to him, and baby quieted down. At a time when Kittyboy couldn't be alone awake, his kitty was there, and at night at least, that qualified as "not alone". Magic the Therapy Cat!
After Kittyboy was cruising along furniture, he cruised up to Harriet and "petted" her. It was nice petting, for him at least, but it was directed at her face, which she didn't like. And she responded appropriately - she hissed. I heard the hiss, looked up and said, "No touching Harriet, let her go," because we were trying to teach him some semblance of BOUNDARIES. And I thought her hissing and leaving was perfectly acceptable. Magic thought otherwise. He followed her, cornered her as she tried to leave the room, GROWLED, she leapt over him, he swiped at her, and they hurdled a baby gate to go rolling down the hallway with me yelling "Magic, NO! STOP!" He chased her to the other end of the house!!! Because she HISSED at HIS baby - how dare she!!!
And nowadays, if I'm trying to let Kittyboy "cry it out" when he doesn't want a nap, Magic has his own idea of what's too long, and if it lasts too long, he will take up position outside the nursery door and add his voice to the din. "WAAAAHHH! WAAAAHHH! WAAAAHHH!" "MRROWW! MRROWW! MRROWW!" Like I can't hear the screaming toddler, and I need to be told he's crying! (How helpful of Magic, to make sure I know what's going on!)
Magic is no longer the be-all and end-all of his boy's existence, as he used to be, but they are just precious together - and they TOTALLY "belong" to each other! I think Kittyboy will be a black and white tuxedo cat for Halloween - I'll have to get a picture of that and post it. An updated portrait of a boy and his cat!

1 comment:

sharqi said...

That is so sweet!