Home of the Bellingwood Series – Nammynools

50 Years Later, I’m a Cat Person

Lump under the comforter
My favorite TB shaped lump under the comforter

This morning I struggled to get out of bed because my cat had planted himself firmly against my legs. Now, this shouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but TB’s favorite place to sleep in the morning is not on top of the blankets, not underneath the sheet, but between the comforter and the sheet.

Notice I said “in the morning.” During the cold winter months, TB crawls under the sheets and sleeps snuggled up against me with the warmth of a pile of blankets on top of us. Until 4:30 or so when both of us get up. I go potty, he starts checking out the world.

During warmer months, TB sleeps on top of the blankets, snuggled up against me until 4:30 or so when both of us get up. I go potty, then open the front door to the porch and he starts checking out the world.

OD (Other Dog) and Charcoal, 1975
OD (Other Dog) and Charcoal, 1975

I head back to bed, no matter what month it is and after about an hour or so, TB paws at the blankets until I lift the comforter so he can crawl in and snuggle up against me again. He doesn’t want to go all the way under. If I lift all the blankets, he just sits down and looks at me until I pay attention to his demand.

I’m a fully trained cat person by now. He’s the first cat I’ve had that has demanded I pay attention to what he needs and expected that I would learn my role.

Diane & Mac Dog, 1965
Diane & Mac Dog, 1965

I grew up as a dog person. After Mom died, Carol and I took the family dog and when Ghenghis (a shih-tzu named Ghenghis Khan, king of the mongrel hordes) was gone, I got my first dog – Isolde, a miniature poodle I rescued just before she was scheduled to be terminated at the Humane society. When Isolde died, I got a miniature dachshund. Bert was barely tolerant of all the changes in my life, but he loved me and put up with a husband and two cats joining us.

Isolde 1989
Isolde 1989

I’d never had much fondness for cats – my first experience had been with a friend’s two Siamese cats who tortured me. My next experience was my grandfather’s cat. After leaping over a banister and riding our dog down the stairs – with great screaming and howling, Tom went home with friends who had come up that very day to visit. He lived a full and happy life elsewhere.

Howard came into our home because we had a terrible problem with mice. One evening Max and I went to the pet store to purchase things for the new cuddly ball of love that would come into our home from the humane society. However … a rescue group was there adopting out rescued kitties.

Ghenghis 1988
Ghenghis 1988

I approached the cats that evening with great trepidation, but one was different. He was calm. When I approached his cage, he didn’t back away or even rush at me. I put my hand inside the cage and touched him and he didn’t try to bite me or claw me. He was mine. The next two weeks were entertaining. The poor boy was scared out of his mind and hid. If he was going to be a recluse, his name was Howard … Howard Hughes.

One night I came downstairs to get something. Howard was sitting on the bathroom floor and didn’t scurry away, so I sat down in the doorway and he walked past me times. I put my hand out and he walked under it, over and over. I called up to Max to lock the dog in the bedroom and come downstairs. Two crazy people were so happy the cat was reaching out to us, that we sat for an hour on the kitchen floor waiting for him to pass under our hands so we could touch him. That was the end of his reclusive behavior. He was part of the family.

Ichabod, Howard, and Bert
Ichabod, Howard, and Bert

Six months later, a friend of my sister’s was in a panic because her new boyfriend refused to let her keep her cat. Peekaboo came to live with us. I renamed him Ichabod. Kept most of the consonants, but Peekaboo didn’t fit his personality – nor mine, thank you very much. Ichabod was horrid and mean. I’d never heard a cat growl until Ichabod. Fortunately (and I’d never do this to a cat, but I was glad it had happened to him), he had no front claws. It took four weeks to acclimate that poor, angry cat. The first two weeks, he had his own room.  I’d spend 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes when I got home from work with him, just trying to get him to allow me to touch him. After two weeks, I opened the door and put a baby gate up. Howard could get in, but not Bert. Two weeks later, I told him it was time. The baby gate came down and he had to figure out how to be part of our family. He did.

Poor Leica and her new torturer.
Poor Leica and her new torturer.

Bert died, Leica came into our lives (another dachshund), Howard passed away, Ichabod passed away, TB joined me here at the cabin and Leica died a year ago.

I hadn’t planned on another animal. They take up a lot of time, you know. But TB insisted and I’ve discovered the joys of having a cat. I loved my dogs. They each gave me unconditional love. All I had to do was feed them, play with them, take them outside and accept love. Cats are so different. Howard and Ichabod learned to live in a dog’s environment. Howard never hissed or bared his claws at me. He was the perfect cat for a first-time cat owner. He didn’t want to be held, but he liked being close to me. Ichabod was a trial, but if there was anyone he loved, it was me. As soon as I would lie down, he wanted to be on top of me and have me stroke him.

Neither of those cats taught me, though, what it really meant to be a cat person. It took TB coming into my life to discover all of the ups and downs of having a cat. He fights me every single day for power. I’m definitely an alpha personality. He accepts that from me only under duress and spends most of the time reminding me that any power I have is because he allows it. The little brat is independent. If I don’t want him to do something – that’s exactly what he wants to do. He is the epitome of all that a cat should be and it’s more fun than I know how to handle.

He helps me ... not so much.
He helps me … not so much.

As a writer, TB is perfect. I’ve become a cat person, through and through.

And in the morning when I’m trapped under the blankets because the cat has finally settled down, I just chuckle and make my way out of bed. At his leisure, he’ll join me and rub on me as he walks past and demands that I open the front door. When he wants attention or has worn himself out, he’ll come back in and expect me to stop what I’m doing. That’s his time, no matter what. He’s as quirky as they come, but he’s a cat and that means he can get away with pretty much anything.


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