Interview with a cat

Our current cat Arthur is sweet, a bit dumb but quite lovable. He was obviously traumatized at an early age. Brought home from a shelter, even after having been with us more than a year, he remains skittish. If we rise from our chair, he moves immediately toward safety. He would make a good military planner; he always has an exit strategy. I have been working to coax him into be a lap kitty like my late lamented cat Sprite. Perhaps he will chill out in time. I occasionally put him on my lap but he quakes with nervousness. If I scratch him lightly while he is on my lap, he will hang around for a few minutes. Eventually his panic button takes over and he jumps off my lap. Only once has he actually sat on my lap and only very nervously.

My wife knew I missed having a lap kitty since Sprite went to his well-deserved feline reward. Since she has friends into animal rescue, she pitched the idea of another cat to me. I was amenable to the right cat. Through her friends, she learned of Tuxi, a 4-year-old female cat who is very much the lap kitty type. If you have a lap, she will be there. Tuxi is a large cat, with short charcoal black fur and white paws. Her markings make her look like she is wearing a tuxedo. From her modest girth, she obviously eats too much. She apparently spent many of her early years outside. This might explain her attraction to laps: they are warm and frequently the outdoors is cold.

Things looked promising at first. We kept Tuxi confined to the TV room with a litter box, water and plenty of food. We lavished attention on her. Tuxi though quickly wanted out of the room and that was a problem. She whined and complained when we were not there. When finally given the opportunity to get outside the room she bounded around our rooms putting her nose literally into places where they did not belong, like the blinds. She was not intimidated by our nearness or heights.

Arthur watched her curiously and looked desperately like he wanted her to be his friend. However, Tuxi wanted nothing to do with him. She hissed whenever he came near. One evening she mysteriously escaped from her room. She spent the night and the subsequent day under the living room couch howling, often at ear piercing volumes, refusing to go use her litter box or even be moved. From the smell, we knew she had peed on the carpet under the couch. When Arthur plaintively approached she would hiss some more and growl until we could feel tremors in the floorboards. Her yowls reached all corners of the house. She refused to shut up until 4 a.m.

She has scratched me once when I needed to get up. However, when I sit down, she is on my lap in an instant. If I need to get up before she has received her quota of lap time, she can hiss and bite. Her bite though does not leave an impression.

What to do with a desperately affectionate kitty obviously carrying the baggage of a less than stellar kittenhood? It is hard to say no, but she is just not working out. Her loud yowls are even louder than our former cat Squeaky’s. Yet I realize Tuxi is just being herself. She is a product of her environment. She would work out right in the right home, just not here.

Maybe we need to leave well enough alone. Arthur may not be much of a lap kitty and he often seems bored, since he does not quite understand the concept of play. Nevertheless, he is generally quiet, friendly and predictable. The most evil thing he has done was pee in our vents after we first got him. That cost several hundred dollars in duct cleaning, which we needed to do anyhow. Since then he has been amazingly sweet and innocent. He may never get over his skittishness but that is okay. Our bonding time will be on the bed when I am under the covers. There he languidly stretches out on his back and allows me to scratch his tummy. He purrs obscenely as I (generally unsuccessfully) read a book.

I hope Tuxi finds a home worthy of her. It will need to be a place where she is the only cat. She will want access to the great outdoors. She will want plentiful access to laps. She will need a home where her loud yowls will go unnoticed. I think she will find such a place in time. It breaks my heart that our home is not the place.

If you can offer her such a place, never abuse a cat and live in Northern Virginia, send me some email. (Please put Occam’s Razor in the subject line to bypass my spam filter.) She may still be up for adoption. She has had all her shots, is neutered and has tested negative for feline leukemia. She is a delight to have on your lap. In the right home, she would be a terrific cat.

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