Friday, April 13, 2012

Simon's Cat in 'Double Trouble'

Kitteh Fever

 Our apartment building has four units. Three of those have dogs living in them. Both of us like dogs who don't jump, bark and act like maniacs, but definitely identify comfort with cats. For months, Steve and I have been exchanging cat cartoons, videos and photos that make us laugh (see above) or kill us with their cuteness. I think both of us knew it was only a matter of time before we caved and got a cat. 

We went off to the Lexington Human Shelter in February and spent several hours visiting with the kitties. While I was blithely going from cabana to cabana, assessing, and scritching heads, Steve hadn't moved much. He was squatting behind the door and a black and white paw was holding his finger through the bars. He was smitten. We took "Baby" out and brought her to the meet and greet room, where she prowled around, growling at the smells of stress in the room. This made us a little nervous, but when picked up, this squat little cow kitty would purr like her ship had come in. Well, it had, really. We tried a few others in meet and greet and they didn't stand up to the cow kitty's charm and curiosity. We decided the growling was from fear and overstimulation and adopted her. On the way home, we brainstormed names and Steve came up with "Gladys," which nearly caused me to crash the car, I was laughing so hard. Gladys she became! She was so sweet and quiet on the way home: we were loath to leave her for a dinner outing with Steve's colleagues, but thought it was a nice 3-hour block of time she could use to adjust to her new home. This is the video we took when we returned and she came out from under the bed:

Over time, the low growling-- or grousing, as we called it-- stopped almost altogether. Gladys, though extremely curious, does initially err on the side of caution, moving "low and slow" and growling if things get to be too scary: initially, noisy neighbor dogs, going on the porch, going in kitchen cupboards, loud rain, and being put up on high shelves. (We don't leave her there long. It's mostly to help with hard-to-reach dusting.) All of these things have become normal parts of her day now and she relishes porch time. Interestingly, she self-polices about getting up on the dangerous railing, growling to remind herself she can fall. She especially likes swinging out there, if only on the left side of the swing. Most cats I know would jump off with the movement, but Gladys seems to enjoy it!
 You can often find her in our dining room on the "Praise Chair." She favors the chairs in our apartment that have woven bottoms, for traction and warmth, I think. Also, like Mike Sturdevant's cat, she enjoys surveying meal times, not begging, just being part of the proceedings. When we started giving her cat treats, she would get in her chair to receive them. Soon we decided to train her to stand on her hind legs before getting a treat, and that evolved into a kind of "shell game" like those you'd see at a 19th century fair. Mostly, she gets it right these days. Her tail puffs wildly with excitement when this happens.

 Despite porch time, laser play, earplug chasing, and prism gazing, Gladys gets bored. Since she has been indulging in "pansy salad" on the porch, Steve suggested we get her a harness and leash to take her to the park. I must admit, I didn't think it would work... but she adapted almost immediately. We started slowly, getting her used to the harness, which made her take teeny old lady kitty steps (despite its being pretty loose), then got her playing with the leash. We went for a little stroll on the side of the apartment building and Gladys ate grass, hid in the shrubs and enjoyed the sunshine. Her black and silver harness looks very fetching!  

All told, she's the softest, funniest, smartest cat either one of us have ever had, and her affectionate nature makes her a delight. If only she'd stop raiding our bar.