Habits

Judgment and quick response is key to a cat?s survival.  At the time I was mortified, but as it turned out I should have paid more attention to Baby?s intuitive nature.  Some of us just don?t have the ability to judge the inner heart of a person like a cat can.  Baby knew Ken was not the man for me.  It only took me seven years of heartache to come to that same conclusion.           

The most interesting relationships cats have made are with other animals.  When kittens are raised with a different species, even if they are natural enemies, many will form bonds that are actually stronger than those of their same kind.  Cats have been known to be best friends with owls, parrots, rats, dogs, horses, and even foxes. 

I used to board my Palomino quarter horse, Poppins, at a barn that had a whole herd of barn cats.  There were more cats in the barn than horses.  Every evening when I would feed, I would include a handful of goodies for one of my horse?s favorite cats.  His name was Rafter, and he got his name because he would sleep astraddle the rafters above the stalls.  By the time I put my horse to bed and turned out the barn lights, Rafter would already be asleep over Poppins? head.  I would check in after locking everything up, and I could just make out Rafter?s legs?two hanging on one side of the rafter and two on the other.  As Rafter aged he suffered with arthritis in his back parts and found it difficult to climb to the top of the barn, but Poppins looked after him.  Each night Poppins would lay down in his nice dry shavings and Rafter would curl up in the curve of his neck.  By morning they would both be waiting for their food, ready to share another day together. 

Rafter never got over liking to be up high in the barn, so we did the next best thing.  We made steps so that Rafter could easily climb to the top of one of Poppins? stall polls attached to his walkout area, placing a cushy bed right on top.  Rafter would catch the warm Arizona sun on a summer afternoon as Poppins and I played in the pasture and practiced our reigning.  One summer afternoon as I entered the barn, Poppins wasn?t hanging his head out the half stall door.  I softly whistled three times, which was his cue to greet me with a snicker.  Still no Poppins.  I tried to keep my panic down, worried that something had happened to Poppins and nobody had discovered him yet. 

Since it was a 20-stall barn and Poppins had the last stall, it was quite a walk to the end.  My steps got faster and faster until I found myself breaking into a full out run.  When I got to the barn, there was Poppins standing with his nose stuck in Rafter?s bed at the top of the poll.  I don?t know when Rafter passed, but I know he was content.  There he was with his best buddy all curled up catching the last afternoon rays. 

You?d think the story ended there, but not so.  In a few days, there was a new kitten that showed up on the rafter above Poppins? stall.  He looked exactly like Rafter, and I was sure he must have been one of Rafter?s offspring.  He was young and full of spit and vinegar, but Poppins didn?t seem to care, and the two of them became fast friends.  We called Rafter?s boy Snap, because every time I snapped my fingers he?d come running.  Although Snap enjoyed walking the rafters, he preferred to sleep in Poppins feeder, bundled in the warm hay Poppins would purposefully leave him. 

Unlike Rafter, Snap didn?t care much for canned food.  He preferred a balanced diet of mice, lizards, and scorpions.  Every once in a while he would hide in wait for one of the slower black birds, but his success was somewhat limited on the bird variety.  One day when Poppins and I were riding in the pasture, Snap chased us far out to the north end.  He was noticeably limping, so I got down and picked him up to give him a ride back to the barn.  I needed to investigate his injury.  The injury was minor, but the ride opened up a whole new mode of travel for Snap.  From that moment on, he would cry to get in the saddle and ride with Poppins and me as we toured the ranch.  Poppins and Snap remained friends for as long as we boarded at the barn, and I later heard from the owners that Snap had taken up with another Palomino when we left. 

 

Writing about cats has reminded me why I am such a fool for them, crazy about their habits and personalities.  Personalities?  People who have never had cats or don?t like cats think they have no personality, but you and I know better.  A cat?s personality is as individual and unique as they are.  Did you know a cat?s nose has lines on it that are similar to a person?s fingerprint?  Your cat?s nose is unlike any other cat?s nose.  Did you know some cats take on the personalities of their owners?  It?s not uncommon to find a grumpy cat residing contentedly with its grumpy owner.  You may see a curious cat paired up with a kid full of questions.  Cats sense what is needed to bond and relate to us humans and pretty much adjust their behaviors to get what they want.  Usually their personalities haven?t been developed to please us, but rather to please themselves?not from selfishness, but because cats are survivors.  They inherently do what will get them what they want when they want it.  If that means pretending, then they?re not opposed to putting on the dog?so to speak.  So, take a look at your cat.  Is it distant and quiet, or an annoying blabbermouth?  Pay attention to your cat; you might just learn something about yourself in the process.