When I adopted my first kitten I thought they were for petting. Carmela was a beautiful fluffy white baby kitten with brilliant blue (and slightly crossed) eyes. She was part Siamese (frost point is what my friend, Richella, told me) and she had other ideas about the natural relationship between a human and a kitten. She thought that kittens were for ripping the arms off of humans. It was all in fun, and she was convinced that this was the proper way to play. So, for the first year I perpetually had scratch marks on my forearms. I did my best to understand how we were supposed to get along. I thought I was supposed to brush her; she thought I was trying to kill her and she reacted accordingly.
I bought her a few toys, but she really wanted interaction with me. She enjoyed playing with bottle caps because they make a noise when she swatted them around. She enjoyed the toy that I strung up underneath the table. Among the toys that I bought her was one that was like a mouse with feet at the end of long spiral legs and a string for the human to hold on to. This was pretty much her favorite. She'd come into the room and drop it on the floor and meow. (When a person is just waking up, it very much seemed like it was a real mouse.) She wanted to play with the mouse with me. Toys did not relieve me of my responsibility to keep her entertained – it was just another method.
That journey began in 2003. In 2005 I decided that Carmela needed a friend while I worked, so I adopted a new kitten - Anastasia. I have been told, and I have read, and the good people at the Humane Society assured me that the best way to bring another cat into a cat's life is to bring it as a baby kitten. There's also the part about leaving them in separate rooms and taking it slow that way, but there is supposed to be something about adult cats and kittens that will help them bond. This may very well be true. However, it was not true in my case - in Carmela's case. She despised this new creature and did her best to pretend it didn't exist. The new creature was busy being a kitten and couldn't help but be adorable, and couldn't help but get on Carmela's nerves. They fought for six years.
It just so happened that about six years later I allowed myself to be tricked into adopting yet another kitten – Raku. This one more or less broke the tension. Anastasia and Raku played with each other and left Carmela alone. This was good because Carmela was actively pretending that she was the only cat in the place anyway. If she walked around a corner and came fact-to-face with another cat, she was completely taken aback and hissed. Even after all of those years of living with said other cat she wasn't used to sharing the home. Carmela just slept in the guest bedroom and sometimes in the living room. She resigned herself to not being in my bedroom with me, because she wanted to avoid having to admit that there were two other cats in there.
I now live in Elgin again and I have my own room. It's a large room – very deep – but all three cats are in there with me. (This is because there are 5 other cats in the main house, but that's another story for another time.) Carmela has lived on the sofa and the other two cats trade off sleeping on my bed and on the cat tree by the window. That's how it's been for over two years, until now...
Carmela has started to meow again. (After being spayed, she almost completely stopped talking.) She hasn't let me pet her for the majority of her life, but little by little she recently started. First I was only allowed to pet her with my feet. Now, when I sit on the sofa with her and read she lets me pet her, as long as she's not looking directly at me while it's happening. Then, about two weeks ago she jumped up on the bed with me in the morning. She let me pet her, nay she demanded it. Now, when I wake up she's curled up next to me, touching my back.
The other day I walked in and found this on my bed – the mouse toy she's had her whole life. She usually kept it with her on her sofa, but I guess she has officially moved back in with me on the bed. And, after all these years, it's still her favorite toy. She's 13 years old; I can see her spine a little more than I use to. But, her blue eyes are just as bright and (just as crossed) as ever. Hearing her purr again after all these years makes me happy. I'm not a bad cat daddy after all.