Six years ago my first cat Celia died suddenly from congenital kidney failure. It was already a bad time for me and after spending a horrible week in my catless apartment I packed up and went back to my parents’ home for a week or so. On the day before my birthday my amazing friends picked me up to go out and celebrate — which for us meant an afternoon of coffee and bookstores. But at the end of our trip we went to the pet store across from the Humane Society. It was one of those set ups where they host animals from local rescues, including the HS.
I met Cynthia (formerly named Domino for obvious reasons), as well as another very large and very charming tuxie boy.
I convinced myself that I should probably not impulsively adopt the first cat I met and went home. But it turns out I am terrible at convincing myself not to adopt cats. When I went back the next day I found myself asking who would be more likely to tolerate me reading and writing for long periods of time and was told that Cynthia was a little more of a lap cat than Mr Giant Tuxie.
Actually I was told, in somewhat ominous tones, that she was needy. Really needy. Maybe more needy than I would be ready for.
The first night was pretty telling. After a couple of hours of wandering around, calmly inspecting her new kingdom, she flopped down on the floor, stretching lazily in a ‘you will adore and pet me now’ pose (see above).
In the last six years I have learned that ‘she is a bit needy’ actually means ‘she will insist that you pay attention to her at all possible moments and even when you are busy you will pay attention to her’.
I’ve spent the last six years typing with a cat on my lap, a cat who occasionally reaches a paw upward to pat my face when I go too long without adoring her. Or with a cat laying beside — and then inevitably on — my laptop. And learning to read around a cat who insists on sitting on my books or directly in my field of vision. And waking up in the middle of the night to a gentle paw on my nose or snuffly nose in my eyeball (because I have to say good night to her when she goes to bed at 3am).
I have come to redefine my understandings of the term lap cat.
And no one escapes Cynthia’s demands. Anytime someone new comes to visit she will climb on a table and stare and meow and reach out her paw to snag their clothes if she can. Or just flop at their feet in her ‘adore me’ posture.
I’ll never know how she ended up as a shelter cat because she’s pretty much the sweetest and gentlest and easygoingist cat around. I do know that I am always very grateful for her company and her affection. Especially in years like the past one where things have been not-so-good. Especially at the times when she intervenes at moments when I’ve been working too long, and forgetting to take breaks, and generally getting caught up in my anxiety that all the things have to be done.
But also at 3am.
So happy birthday to Cynthia cat: my best birthday present ever.
15 May 2016