Ready, Freddie


This entry is a bit of a cheat. However, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. yet again, after going to bed at 1, and have been dissertating furiously all day along while also trying to arrange an event that requires coordinating multiple schedules, contact people who have information I need, and remember the eight million other tiny things I need to be doing this week. So, I'm exhausted and have only a handful of functioning brain cells, which means I'm going to reproduce and elaborate on something I wrote elsewhere earlier this week. About my cat, because I apparently have no pride about being just another Internet cliche'.

(She may have mysterious mind-reading powers, because just now she brought me one of her mouse toys, initiating a game of leap-and-fetch.)

It's hard to believe, but Fred is around three and a half now: she was about seven months old when I adopted her from the shelter, and that was three years ago next February. She's still pretty kitten-like in lots of ways, though. She's very playful and affectionate, and loves to play with her pipe-cleaner mice (a gift from my sister last year). Aside from leap-and-fetch, she also likes to play at mouse collector (bringing all three of them to me and setting them in a row) and mouse cuddler (she lies on her back, I toss her a mouse, and she hugs and nuzzles it).

Ever since she was little she's liked to make up very elaborate games. Her latest seem less elaborate, but that may be simply because I don't know the rules. One of her favorites these days involves carrying a mouse to the top of the stairs and dropping it. She'll watch it fall, then look away as though she's completely uninterested. After a few seconds, though, she'll suddenly coil and leap down the stairs after her unsuspecting prey.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

She also likes to drop the mice into her water bowl. I used to think they ended up there by accident while she was batting them around the house, but then I saw her carry one over and drop it very matter of factly into the dish. Usually she'll fish it out with her mouth or paw afterwards, which is why I often find a soggy pipe cleaner mouse on the kitchen floor in the morning. Every once in a while, though, she apparently loses interest or gets distracted, and the mouse is still floating in the water hours later. I think this may be a reflection of her ongoing fascination with water in general, although she's much more careful around it since she fell into the tub once as a curious kitten.

We also have an evening ritual of laser tag. If it were up to her, this ritual would last for hours. Because I am the meanest, laziest cat owner ever, it usually lasts five minutes or less. (In my own defense, by the time I go to bed it tends to be because I can't keep my eyes open anymore.) Other favorite toys include some yarn toys that Amanda and Jeff made for her, and her catnip tomato.

I have had cats for most of my life, and loved all of them in their own way, but Fred continues to be the sweetest, easiest cat I've ever had. She never does anything outside her litter box, has never thrown up so much as a hairball, and never holds a grudge. Those things alone put her in the Feline Superhero Pantheon as far as I'm concerned. She also never bugs me to feed her or wakes me up early in the morning, even on those rare occasions when I sleep late or am too lazy to get up right away. She is much more patient than I am (and, I'm sorry to say, actually sheds less). On very rare occasions she'll come over to make sure I'm still breathing, which is why I'll occasionally wake to a nose in my ear or a weight on my chest. A not inconsiderable weight, actually: Fred's a big girl. It's hard to believe that such a tiny, skinny little kitten has grown into an adult that weighs--eyeball estimate here, since she hasn't been to the vet in a while--around 16-18 pounds. At least.

She actually eats very little, just 1/3 cup of Innova Evo a day. She does insist on inspecting anything that is eaten or drunk in this household--she'll paw at my arm until I let her sniff--but is almost never interested in consuming it. She just wants to know what it is, you see.

Socially, she's still not quite where I'd like her to be. I had some friends over a few weeks ago, and she spent the entire afternoon huddled under the couch. When I'm away, my neighbors tell me that they barely catch a glimpse of her; they can tell she's okay by the level of her water and food bowls, the way her toys move around the apartment between visits, and of course the, uh, output product. As long as I am here, Fred's okay with one or even two people. She'll come out, want to observe them from a distance for a while, then take closer and closer passes until she finally lets them pet her a little. If I'm sitting at a distance, she'll go into full affectionate mode, letting me rub her tummy and scratch her in all the key places--all the while making sure the guests are paying attention. Despite her shyness, Fred's a bit of an attention whore.

Not that she could have picked that up from anyone else around here, of course.

In a similar vein, Fred's quite the performer. She has a little dance that she does under my end table whenever she wants attention. When Dario was here last Christmas, he thought the table dance was the funniest thing he'd ever seen. She doesn't do as many somersaults as when she was a kitten, but they still make an occasional appearance; I always get a welcoming somersault if I've been away overnight. She seems to have some kind of gravity-defying superpower, since for such a big cat she can leap very high, and snatch things (such as, for example, a pipe cleaner mouse) out of the air with perfect precision.

She loves to have her belly rubbed and her chin scratched. She'll often come over to me and turn around expectantly, wanting a bit of a scratch at the base of her spine. (If I don't act quickly enough, she meows to make sure I understand what I'm supposed to do.) Other favorite spots are the top of her head, her cheeks, and behind her ears. Even though she's not and never will be a lap cat--every once in a great while she'll want a bit of lap time, but it's a rarity--she's an incredibly affectionate cat. She starts purring as soon as she sees I'm awake in the morning, purrs some more when I play with her, and thinks prolonged eye contact is almost as good as petting. She does like to nap between my feet on the ottoman upstairs, though.

I know I've been rambling on and on, but I maintain that it's not my fault: Fred is just that awesome.