Sunday, May 1, 2016

Another Love Letter to My Cat

Dear Soth,

Seven years ago, I fell in love with an all-white, one-year-old cat with a notch in his ear (that's you). He pretended to be aloof--not seeking affection after an initial scritch through his kennel bars--but I could tell he was interested in me. He didn't get close when he came out of the kennel, but he crouched and watched me and occasionally changed positions to watch me from another angle.

As always, I must post your very first photo.

I didn't know all of your quirks yet then, my love, but I did know that you were mine. You weren't the needy cat that kept headbutting the kennel door until I'd pet him again. You weren't the kitten that hissed and swatted through the kennel bars as I walked by. You were the patient, quiet cat I'd been searching for. Your adorable bright pink nose and ears didn't hurt, either.

When I introduced you to our current vet, they asked about the notch in your ear. I told them you came that way. They said it looked like you'd just missed dodging someone's bite. When I introduced you to my grandma, I told her you'd gotten it in a bar fight during your life on the streets of Santa Fe.

I used to imagine that the bar fight had occurred when you'd looked at someone wrong from across the room. You are always watching everyone carefully. When new people visit, you don't try to interact with them, but you don't hide, either. You settle in and eye them, keeping track of their every move. I could see someone sitting at the bar, noticing your stare, and becoming upset.

Recently, I've revised the story. I think you might have asked that they change the television channel from the big fight to House Hunters and someone at the bar put up a fuss. I think you've spent the first 8 years of your life dreaming of home ownership.

For almost seven years, you would tolerate being held, but you didn't enjoy it. You'd love blink me and purr as I pet you while you lounged on the couch or the floor, but you didn't want to be held. You didn't even want to sit in my lap unless I was covered by a Soth-approved blanket.

But a couple weeks ago that changed. I scooped you up for your goodnight kiss and you snuggled into my arms. You started to purr. Then you started to knead my arm. It's not easy to stand in the hallway holding a 13.5-lb. cat for long, but I couldn't let you go. I held you and kept shifting my weight back and forth until you'd tired of being snuggled. I didn't want to let that moment go. In the short month and a half that you've had your very own home, you've become a cat I've never seen before. You're happy.

Of course, you still resemble the little guy I fell in love with in the PetSmart meet-and-greet room. You still love chirping at birds and basking in the sunlight. You still live to eat. You still love to torment your sister.  And you still make the grumpiest faces.

But I've fallen in love with a whole new side of you. You're playful and silly. When the security system guy came, you made a game of jumping over his legs and sprinting from one end of the room to the other while he sat on the floor setting up the different sensors. You've made me laugh by chasing hair ties and mice up and down the stair case. Your obsession with the basement baffles but amuses me. You have made this house your own--learning to open the linen closet doors and staking out the best perches for watching neighbors, squirrels, and birds--and I love watching you blossom into a relaxed, happy cat.

There isn't another cat in the world that I would have rather spent the last 7 years with. I love you more than rainbows, my darling, and can't wait to see what the next 7 years have in store for us.