I’m not really going to write a proper ode – I mean, I could, but I think that sort of thing is still illegal in Massachusetts on a Sunday. But I know you’ve all been awaiting my new arrival as anxiously as I have, and are desperate for an update.
Oliver arrived yesterday morning, meowing his head off and not sure if he wanted to explore or camp out in a dark corner. He chose the latter for the first few hours, scoping out his new abode from under the bed, but he quickly took to surveying his domain. By the afternoon, he had already broken one of my porcelain figurines (fixable, I think), inadvertently caused the demise of a decorative glass jar (that had admittedly been unstable before his arrival and only slid off the bookcase well after he had jumped down), and stolen my heart.
He is the sweetest thing. Cheerfully playful, constantly vigilant, intelligent, excitable, and always, always looking for affection. He’s started to follow me around like a puppy, staring up at me and shadowing my every move, sitting near me just for the sake of being close to someone. I was woken up at 5 this morning by his big purring nose in my face, and even though we’re going to try very hard not to make that a normal occurrence, it’s impossible to be annoyed at a creature who is just so pleased he’s found a loving home that he needs to thank me for it every chance he gets.
And he’s big! At last count, he was 18 pounds, but I think he must be more like 22. He’s not overweight – he’s just a very large beast. It’s all muscle and fur and huge floppy paws. Despite the fact that he was crushing my internal organs as he sat on my chest this morning before we got out of bed, I haven’t been happier in a long time.
My childhood cat, Solomon, used to sleep on my bed every night until he got too old to want to bother going up and down the stairs. He’d curl up beside me and listen to my secrets with his beautiful, wise eyes. He would knead his paws and purr me to sleep, making me feel absolutely safe knowing I had an unconditional friend and confidant during the most tumultuous and difficult times of my youth. It’s been three years since he passed on at the ripe old age of 19, and was at least five or six years before that that he stopped sleeping beside me. So it’s been a while, and I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to relax with a cat by my side.
Now, Oliver still has some nerves to work out, understandably. My radiator makes some funny noises, and he hasn’t quite accepted the fridge. But he reminds me of Solomon in several ways, and not just his looks. He’s got a thoroughly sweet nature, and when he blinks in contentment and head-butts my hand so I’ll pet him, I’m reminded of all that’s best in life: unselfish love, and mutual contentment, and cat hair up my nose.
Wait, maybe not that last one.
In any case, I think we’re going to settle in nicely with each other. I was a little worried about all the added responsibility before he got here – I will admit that I’ve never had to feed and scoop and groom and go to the vet all by myself before – but he doesn’t seem overly demanding about breakfast or the pan, and he’s relatively self-sufficient after spending the last year and a half alone in the basement of his (exceedingly nice and caring) foster home. He does sit on the floor and stare at me for about 90% of his day, which is a little awkward when I’m getting dressed, but cats are natural stalkers, after all.
The minor increase in effort is completely worth the companionship, in any case, and I don’t mind it. We’ll see how I handle the emotional investment when I need to go to work on Monday, or when I need to travel for a weekend and leave him in the hands of a sitter. I’m hoping my separation anxiety won’t get the better of me. But in any case, I’m so glad I finally decided to do this.
I will try not to become an overwhelmingly crazy cat lady. But it’s possible that I won’t be able to help it for a while (if you don’t like cat pictures, you might want to unfollow me on Twitter). If you have pets – cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, it doesn’t matter – you’ll understand. It’s a fine thing to love an animal in need of a human’s care, and I would encourage the petless among you to try it. Besides, it’s really hard to be a reclusive author and/or super villain without a cat. You just don’t have the same amount of street cred.