Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Cat Who Came to Stay

Pepper recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with us, though I doubt she’s aware of it. Pepper is our cat, a gray mackerel tabby, and she showed up on our doorstep last January during one of the coldest days of the winter. John has always loudly proclaimed his anti-cat position, so I didn’t think too much of this large gray kitten. Surely she would go home soon. She didn’t. She hung around on the front porch, trying to make friends with us during the short intervals when we were on our way to the van out in the driveway. She was always waiting for us when we returned. Once, I shut her tail in the van door, completely unaware until I heard a strange screeching noise and finally discovered what it was. I figured if she was ever going to leave, this would be the time. But she was patiently waiting for us again that evening. We felt sorry for her and gave her milk. John got worried. “NO CATS IN THE HOUSE!” he announced. “WE WILL NOT HAVE A CAT!”

One day he returned home from work and found the cat in the kitchen. My husband is a good person and a loving father, so despite his misgivings, he agreed to give the cat a chance. One week. And do not name the cat! The cat, who soon became known as “Pepper”, was very social and tolerated a great deal of attention from the kids. But she was clueless about the litter box. We shut her in the downstairs bathroom in the hope that she would figure it out before John kicked her out of the house. I gave her a 50/50 chance and made contingency plans for her in case she continued to use the corner of the stairway landing.

After several rough days, she finally got it. John looked at me one morning and sighed. “Do you really want the cat?” he asked. I did. I liked the cat. The kids had recently lost their dog Charlie in a tragic post-Christmas bout of Turkey Carcass vs. Dog (Pancreatitis). They missed their dog and figured God sent them a cat instead. John reluctantly said we could keep her.

Pepper is a loving and tolerant animal. She lets all the kids wag her around. She lets Becca kiss her and John Mark carry her upside down. She visits with company that comes to the house. Wisely, Pepper didn’t take long to befriend John. In fact, she adores him and prefers him over any of the rest of us. She follows him all over the house, and drapes herself over his lap. She sits at his feet and gazes at him in pure feline adoration. She especially loves his feet and spends a great deal of time rubbing against them. She comes when he calls. They are friends.

Pepper runs to our tub every time she hears the water running. She stalks along the edge and dips her paws in the water. (She is intelligent enough to know not to try this when the kids are taking their baths.) I’ve seen her chase her tail. On several occasions, John and I have witnessed her stalking the kids: she will hide and wait for one of them to come through the door so she can pounce. The kids love it. She chases Benjamin, for some unknown reason. He used to be afraid of her because of this, but now they have fun together. I can tell that her feelings towards Nathanael are ambivalent; he is the most likely to capture and lay on her, but he is also a sucker for a mid-day meal. She has to walk a thin line between her desire not to be squashed and her desire to eat. It’s definitely not a Fancy Feast lifestyle.

As far as cats go, we got a pretty good one. We are glad that this cat came to live with us. We are family.


summer said...

i miss having a pet. when we moved to dallas, we brought madison with us. he was our miniature golden retriever looking dog. he hated the city and became very sick. i thought he was going to die from dreaming about open fields and no leashes. we went in to see my family in may after we moved here and brought madison with us. mom said he could stay with her until our next trip in (a month later) to give him a good dose of fresh air on their farm. when i returned i was pregnant, not feeling like i could manage a trip home with two children and a dog, and he was feeling and acting so much better. we decided to let him stay for a while longer. well, now he and my parents seem almost inseparable. i have a small back yard now and have considered many times going back to get him, but he has lived with them for a year and a half and he is 9 years old. i'm afraid a major move may completely do him in. so...we just got a beta. maybe that will satisfy us for a while until my children are a bit bigger and we can get another pet. dog, cat,i am not sure of what we get this time around. i'm glad ya'll have pepper. i'm glad he knew to befriend john in order to keep his nice family.

janjanmom said...

I love cats!! My favorite thing is when they curl up with their face upside down and sleep. Why does THAT feel good?? Pets grow compassion and empathy in our children. Tell John to think of it as a learning tool! However, once that first snuggle happened-I know it was hook, line and SINKER for Mr. John!!