Our Big Brave Boy   2 comments


Until the moving truck’s scheduled arrival the following week, only a few furniture items – the very few that fit in our trailer – occupied the house.  One of those pieces was our futon sofa with its very comfortable queen-sized cushion and mattress.  It became our bed.

Destiny and Carter were anxious about their new surroundings, full of strange smells and strange new places.  Initially they were happy to stay close to us.  When we went to bed that first night, Paul and I didn’t worry about the cats; surely they would adjust as long as they knew where to find their food and water and familiar items such as toys and the smaller of their two scratching posts.

That night, Des and Carter vied for new spots on the futon.

The following morning, Carter was nowhere to be found.  I wasn’t too worried about the little guy.  He was probably hiding somewhere.

By nightfall, still no sign of the Carter-Bug as Destiny slowly made herself at home.

On Morning #2, Carter remained missing.  Paul was concerned.  “Do you think he got out and is lost?” Paul asked.

“I’m sure he’s in here somewhere,” I answered.  “He didn’t hang out by any doors.”

We tried the usual bribery tricks – shaking the catnip jar and pouring food.  No Carter.  Our other trick – luring him with his favorite toy, the Cat Dancer – was useless.  Cats must see it to be enticed.

The two of us went from room to room, checking all closets and bathrooms.  At one point, we checked out bare kitchen cabinets.  No Carter.

“The house isn’t that big,” Paul declared with exasperation.  “He’s not that small.”

Paul decided to grope through the futon bedding.  He felt a large warm lump at the foot of the mattress beneath a comforter.

Several minutes of unwrapping and untangling were required to reach it.  Finally, we located a heavy trembling mass of bi-color tabby:  Carter – our big brave boy – transformed into a sniveling and terrified furry hubcap.

Extracted from his protective nest, Carter sought a new hiding place.

We later found him huddled in the hallway bathtub.  He would not come out even to eat or drink.

Good grief!  A longtime joke around our house went like this:  Carter, our “guard cat” would protect the dust bunnies in case of a break-in.  Seemingly he now wanted the dust bunnies to protect him.

Being the conscientious “cat-dad”, Paul brought Carter out from the bathtub and placed him in front of the food and water.  He nibbled a little and drank some water before Paul took him to the litter box.  Carter had a go before beating a hasty retreat back to his friend and protector, the bathtub.

Carter’s behavior continued until after the North American Van Lines crew delivered our belongings the following week.

Ironically, when Paul and I adopted Des and Carter, Paul was not overly crazy about cats.  He long thought himself a dog person – the bigger (not menacing) the dog, the better.  Dogs were not allowed at Poplar Bridge.  A lover of all furry creatures, Paul figured cats were better than no pets at all.  They had the upside of making me happy.  I’m the one with a knack for dealing with cats.  Cheerfully, I am a dog idiot.

Paul was a cat idiot;  Des and Carter knew it.  During their first three years in our home, the cats thought of Paul as a competitor for my attention.  They tolerated him, but barely sought affection from him.  Affection was my job.  Figuring the cats would be friendlier to Paul if they associated him with “good things” like food, catnip and treats, I suggested Paul be the one to feed Des and Carter.  Eventually they learned to go to Dad for food.  Otherwise, Paul remained the human equivalent of chopped liver.

Striving to keep his face warm during those harsh Minnesota winters, Paul grew a beard.  Des and Carter seemed to like Paul a little better with his new furry face.

That beard is still there.

Paul was at a handicap in his early relationship with Des and Carter:  He’s a man.  These cats spent most of their lives around women.  The one man to whom they were exposed wasn’t a cat guy.  We think he yelled at them a lot.

Not their favorite person during those early years, Paul was the first of us to discover an odd characteristic about Destiny and Carter:  they love having their tummies and ruffs scritched.  This is not something to be done with most cats.  Cats have a way of putting you through their shredder.

Unknown to us at the time of their adoption, Des and Carter have a strong Maine Coon bloodline.  Carter has the personality traits of the prototypical male Coonie:  once he gets to know people, he is friendly and outgoing, and sort of a class clown.  (Female behavior is usually dignified.)  An athletic cat, he enjoys rough play, but adjusts the roughness of play to the human.  He likes to play hard with Dad, but goes easier on Mom.  Carter loves to be scritched hard around his ruff and to roll onto his back in anticipation of a tummy scritch.

Maine Coons are amongst the largest registered breeds in the cat fancy.  Full-blooded males typically range from about 18 – 25 pounds; females run about 13 to 15 pounds.  Paul learned a truism: you can scritch a Coonie as hard as it will let you – and Carter likes hard scritchies.  Coonies aren’t delicate, fine-boned cats.  Instant deal-maker.  Before his discovery, Paul was afraid of hurting the cats.

Two long out-of-town trips by me as a neighbor’s travel assistant changed everything.  Destiny and Carter were forced to deal solely with Paul.  Des, ever stingy with affection for anyone but me, went to Paul  for cuddles.  Carter went to Paul for playtime, companionship and scritchies.

Following my second trip, Carter’s outlook changed dramatically.  Never as solidly a one-person cat as Des, Carter decided Dad wasn’t so bad; in fact, Dad was fun.  Paul and Carter spent my trip bonding over “squooshy-ball soccer”, hide-and- seek and other games.  It stuck.  Soon Carter took Paul for “walkies” around the apartment, Carter following a soft drink in Paul’s hand as if mimicking a pointer.  Before long, Paul coached Carter into doing a few simple tricks.  If Paul calls “tail flickies”, Carter flicks his tail.  Same for “ear twitchies”.

When I try it, Carter doesn’t respond.

Carter is still Mom’s pal, but he’s Dad’s BFF.  Paul loves that little guy to smithereens.  He loves Destiny, but gets no love from her.  Carter is his little buddy.

Adjustment to his new home didn’t begin until after our belongings arrived from Minnesota – starting when Paul carried Carter on a guided tour around the house showing him familiar things like the cats’ scratching tower and other furniture.

Until that moment, I didn’t truly realize how far Carter and Paul had come in their relationship.  Paul was truly a “cat dad” and Carter was Daddy’s little boy.

The strange empty space became a place filled with familiar Mom and Dad things and Mom, Dad, Destiny and Carter smells – a happy reassurance for a frightened little guy.

Carter never retreated to the bathtub again.


Posted August 9, 2011 by noslenca9300 in British Columbia, Canada, Cats

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2 responses to “Our Big Brave Boy

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  1. What is it with your cats and beds? LOL! I think that a person really shows their feelings when becoming an owner and taking care of a cat. they do not show their feelings as outwardly as a dog at times and therefore are harder to figure out to love. I am a cat person and never thought I would be. I loved dogs and grew up with them. But they were more difficult for me to take care of when my children were younger. The housebreaking, barking, etc. took a toll on my ex-husband and he didn’t want a dog in the house. Being in Wisconsin I couldn’t fathom leaving a dog outside during winter. So no dog. The children wanted a pet and we got a cat. Oreo. Black and white of course and he grew to 22 pounds. Unfortunately he fell off the bed and broke his leg which led to him being even more of a doorstop and then a bladder infection and death. I loved that blob of fur and it hurt. After a year we got another cat, Keanu, a cross between a tom cat and a siamese. Of course I took care of him more than anyone. He slept on my lap whether in the living room (on the couch) or in bed. He slept on my chest also. He followed me everywhere including into the tub and shower. He took showers with the children. When I had to leave my home during a divorce I worried for him. The children were grown and living on their own and my apartment complex wouldn’t allow animals. My ex who wasn’t a fan of Keanu, took care of him, but was hardly home. Pretty soon he discovered Keanu needed lovin. He gave him to our daughter Stephanie once she bought a home. Now when I visit, I stay there and it takes Keanu a day or so to remember me. He has grown so big and I still talk baby talk to him, which can be so irritating. I hate hearing people talk like that to their pets, yet I resort to it myself. My daughter gives me updates on him all the time. Once I moved to Florida and into my boyfriend’s home, I found that he shared a cat, Lilly, with a neighbor. The neighbor, Lynn, had Lilly, but she gravitated towards Bob. So he fed her and she slept in his bed. Every now and then she would go to Lynn’s. And Lynn will put a can of food out for Lilly from time to time also. She doesn’t like to be held at all, but she loves to have her ears scratched and wants to sleep between my feet. If she needs to see the Vet, Lynn takes her and pays for that. If we go on vacation we let Lynn know, give her the food and leave the sunroom open for Lilly to sleep on the couch and enjoy the heat from the sun. What better arrangement could we have. Plus, we love her and she gives us love in return.

  2. Once they learned how to “surf” the waves on the waterbed, it became a favorite place to snooze. Destiny thinks of it as her personal trampoline (then again, Des considers the entire house to be her personal jungle gym). She loves to take a running start, launch herself and land with a hard bounce, occasionally colliding with feet. Another favorite trick is to lounge on the headboard just after I get into bed. It never fails: just as I’m about to nod off, her little feet rock my pillow and jar me back into reality. If I protest, she looks at me as if to say, “Hi Mom! Did I wake you?” Should I commit the cardinal sin of ignoring her, Des makes a point to walk over the entire length of my body before taking a spot by our feet.

    Waterbeds are warmer than standard mattress beds. It’s no surprise they love it. With the four of us on it, Des and Carter give new meaning to the term “suburban sprawl.” Unlike previous cats I’ve had, they rarely curl up into a tight little ball when sleeping. They stretch out and lounge, taking up an inordinate amount of space as Maine Coons are wont to do. It’s their “squooshy bed”, so they think. We ought to be grateful they let us share it.

    You know the “pet owners’ apocalypse” is upon you when you find yourself taking a seat other than that favorite spot on the couch or chair as so not to disturb the cat. Guess who does that? (Hint: not me.)

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