On a very short leash …

If you’ve got any four-legged family members living at your house you know very well I’m not talking about me keeping my animals on a tight rein. Absolutely myboysnot. Au contraire. In fact it is my two furry little beasts who have me on the leash. And a short one at that. Over a barrel. At their mercy. At their beck and call.

Yes. These two. Bartlett, on the left. Dark grey with the interesting white markings. And Sundance. Ginger and the more svelte of the two. I’m being kind. Bartlett is the size of an adult racoon. He weighs in at more than thirty pounds. Probably much more, but I can’t pick him up to put him on the scale. He’s way too heavy. And much as he loves to cuddle, he does not — I repeat NOT — like being picked up. By anyone. Even me.

I know, they look like butter would melt in their mouths. In all fairness, sometimes it would. “Some” being

the operative word.

When their sister (Zazu) from another mother — and father, for that matter — was alive, you would never have found them lounging together on my bed. Especially in such close proximity. Although when Bartlett joined our little family Sundance was more accepting and tolerant than Zazu. She didn’t want to know.

But now that it’s just the two of them — and she’s been gone long enough for them to realize she’s not coming back — they hang out together much more. I wouldn’t exactly call them bosom buddies, but they have established some sort of a truce.

Except where I’m concerned.

That’s when they become arch rivals. Enemies. Competitors. Jealous like you wouldn’t believe. Prepared to fight to the death.

In some ways I suppose it’s flattering. Having two males vie for your attention — even if they do spend most of their days either sleeping, licking their private parts or coughing up hairballs.

Now that I think about it, replace the licking with scratching and the hairballs with saliva (a much more genteel word than spit) and you could be talking about the often equally furry, two-legged variety of the male species, as well. Okay, I agree — maybe not all of them — but be honest. Come on. Tell me at some point in your life you didn’t encounter at least one guy who fits the description.

Right. As I thought. I rest my case.

Back to the Boys.

Bartlett has always been a cuddler. From the moment I brought him home. Of course he was teensy. Fit in the palm of my hand. Hard to believe something that small could have grown into such a H-U-U-U-G-E cat, but there you have it. He has. He was so small I was terrified the other two would massacre him, so he and I slept in the guest room for three weeks. He slept, snuggled right under my chin. I became his mother. Really — he was only four or five weeks old and had been found, with two siblings, in a dumpster.

Sundance, whose mother was a feral cat who’d been found by cat rescue volunteers, was born in captivity. But I guess he must have inherited some of her wild ways and independent nature because he has always been affectionate only on his terms. Which means how and when he feels like it. He can crawl up and lay on my stomach but if he’s not in the mood to be petted, I am to back off. Immediately. When he’s decided I’ve been on the phone too often for his liking (because he’s in a loving mood) he tries to knock it out of my hand with his head; and if that doesn’t work, he’ll nip my finger. Same when I’m on the computer. He actually hates when I’m working. I keep telling him if he wants fresh litter and also wants to be fed everyday he has to let me do my job. Or go out and get a job himself.

To which there’s never a response. Guess he prefers the cushy life. Who wouldn’t??

Recently, though, there are some new behaviours being exhibited.

They’ve both decided they want to watch TV with me. I swear, the minute I turn it on, they appear. The two of them.  At the same time.  In they stroll, from wherever, in the house, they’ve been.  At first they sit, on the floor, watching intently. As if they know what’s going on. As if they can follow. What do I know? Maybe they can. Then they both jump up beside me. Well Sundance usually jumps first. And paces back and forth so there’s no room for Bartlett. Who starts to kvetch. Seriously. He yammers away in a whiny voice. I know he’s complaining.

And he gives me ‘the look’. You know what I’m talking about. That ‘poor me’ look. “Mommy, Sundance won’t give me any room. Mommy, make him stop. Mommy, tell him to move so I can come and sit beside you. Mommy, you know you love me more.”

How can I not feel sorry for him? He has the bloody look down pat. He gives an award-winning performance.  Truly.

Eventually Sundance gets bored and moves over. You’d think that is exactly what Bartlett’s been waiting for, wouldn’t you? You’d think he’d jump right up, wouldn’t you?

Wrong! It’s at that point Bartlett makes me beg him to come up and sit with us. He stares at me, still with the sad, pity me look.

Oh come on. Are you telling me you’d ignore him? That you’d be immune? That you wouldn’t give in. That you wouldn’t play along. I seriously doubt it. So of course I beg. I pound the damn couch until my arm aches, until my voice is hoarse from asking him, over and over again, to “come up, Bartles” (my nick-name for him). Which, finally, he does.  With great satisfaction. Smugly, even. Smirking, even. And a lot of purring. And a lot of head butts. And usually a paw laid casually over my arm. In that proprietary way.

Which really pisses Sundance off. So he gets jealous. He bats at my face. He jumps on my lap. He jumps off. He glares at Bartlett. He glares at me. He huffs. And puffs. Sticks his behind in Bartlett’s face. Sticks it in mine. Jumps down. Jumps back up. Bites my nose. Looks mad. Looks sad. Frowns. I swear he can frown.  Then he takes off again, charging around the apartment at high speed, wailing loudly.

Only to return moments later when he jumps back up and drapes himself around my neck, like a scarf.  Refusing to move, even when I try to shove him away.  Until I start to sputter and cough and choke from all his fur which is, by then, up my nose and in my mouth.  And on it goes, until I decide it’s time for bed.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

All right, all right. I know I’m nuts. I know you’re shaking your head. What can I say? They control me. I do as they say. And so does every other pet owner I know. Well, I use the term loosely. We are not ‘owners’. They allow us to live with them. To share the same air. To take care of them. To serve them. To cater to them. And most of all, to obey them.

One look is all it takes. I’ll fetch all right. Whatever their little hearts desire. And then some. Yes SIR!!!! As fast as my two legs can carry me, SIR!!!!



11 thoughts on “On a very short leash …

  1. “Dogs have owners, cats have staff.”
    And I certainly do know what you mean! While my 3 don’t always simultaneously vie for my attention, Bazinga does tend to get a little jealous if I’m petting one of the other two and not her. (she is a bit of a brat, after all) There are plenty of evenings when all 3 are lounging in my general vicinity while I’m on the computer, close enough that I can reach out and give them a scratch behind the ears. And at 20 pounds, Sam is the size of a toddler; he is of the Maine Coon breed, so that’s typical I guess.

    • Love Maine coon cats. My cousin had one. And I love the name Bazinga. Great name!! Adore cats — very interesting creatures they are.

  2. I love a good cat story, Fransi. Our Bailey sounds a bit like Sundance. Cuddles, etc. can’t be forced with her. All intimate contact is on her terms, and it’s typically at the most inconvenient times. Or when she’s hungry (which seems to be whenever she’s not sleeping), then suddenly she’s all lovey. We’ve nicknamed her the “food whore.”

    • Lol. It’s weird — my cats are probably the only cats I’ve ever known, or heard of, that never demand food. They don’t wake me up for it or go through any of the typical machinations. They don’t even rush to their dishes to eat when I feed them in the morning. It’s bizarre.

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