Cats are a puzzlement. I’ve lived with them my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are of searching the barn for the litters of spring kittens hidden like furry contraband by their mams. And after all these years, I still can’t predict or even hazard a guess about how they might behave.
I’ve read books, talked with vets, consulted other dedicated cat keepers. We’re all mystified. We might get to understand one cat a tiny bit—enough to keep from constantly pissing them off—but the next feline, like the next human, will be completely different.
This is actually one of the joys of sharing space with cats. Learning their quirks, recognizing their different personalities, even devising unique methods to discourage unwanted behavior pose a fun challenge akin to Sudoku. The purrs, and blinky-kisses, and intellectual conversation are more than worth it.
I enjoy dogs, too. There’s nothing like a dog’s flat-out joy or unconditional loyalty. But where dogs are Captain Obvious, cats are Greta Garbo. Subtle, slit-eyed, cats rarely show all their cards and generally “Vant to be Alone.” Or at least companionable on their own terms. Breach feline etiquette at great risk—a disapproving cat will make you pay.
So, I’ve tried not to make too much of Emmett’s nearly-constant state of anxiety this summer. I know he’s the Don Knotts of kitties—bug-eyed and jittery with nerves, ready to bolt at the slightest hint of… well… anything. But, it seems like he forgot who I was, where he was. Nothing registers in his little brain except some awful soundtrack from one of the Friday the 13th movies.
I spent the last three days in Minneapolis playing with friends. Driving home last night, I wondered how Emmett navigated my absence. Did it stress him out even more, or was it a relief?
When I got home, he was tucked under the comforter of my bed—a good sign, a normal sign. And then he hissed at me when I peeked at him. A very good sign. I’ll take hissing over paralyzed submission any day.
Emmett got up behind me and fell asleep against my backside. And he let me take a picture.
He looks a little mangy, but I’ll get the comb out tomorrow. One miracle a day is all I can handle.
Cats. Go Figure.