I was looking at some of my blog categories the other day, and I realised I’ve neglected to talk about the fourth member of our family much recently. Casper’s settled into being an only cat with rather more ease than is entirely polite (eight months after the fact I’m still inclined to get a bit sobby about Snaffle’s death, even though he never liked me) and it also means that although I’d like an entire tribe of feline companions I’m unlikely to try and introduce another one if it would rock the boat for this one.
He’s made the transition to outdoor cat beautifully and now spends all day poking at things outdoors and and all night poking at our feet between comfy sleeps on the end of our bed. I’m excessively grateful he’s only brought one other living thing into the house and it was a) still living and b) apparently undamaged. I set said creature – a tiny bird that was tweeting IN HIS MOUTH before I made him drop it – free, and pretended that it was probably fine and didn’t do what mostly happens in these cases which is, distressingly, to die of a heart attack shortly afterwards.
It’s been a long time since I specifically wrote about cats and babies, though. I rambled on at length about how a cat shouldn’t get its marching orders during a pregnancy, but I was still curious to see how the cats would cope with the baby human once it made an entrance. Snaffle was spooked, but sadly did not live long enough to get much past giving her a wide berth, but Casper was curious from the outset, and – despite being a nervous sort – has turned out to be supremely tolerant where Ramona is concerned.
Naturally, for both their sakes, we oversee each interaction carefully, but now she’s 15 months old and very quick on her feet, she has been known to potter over and ‘stroke’ him before we can stop her, which usually results in a few strands of fur between her fingers. I should stress it’s loose fur – she’s not actually grabbing his skin and he is clearly not in any discomfort. She’s just really cack-handed at stroking, which I think is fair enough at her age.
His reaction to this 99 times out of 100 is either to go back to sleep (if cats could roll their eyes…) or simply leave. She understands ‘leave Casper alone’; when commanded to do this she waves her finger at him and announces ‘no’, which is what she does with anything she realises she’s not supposed to touch.
Just once he did react, which was a very light tap from his paw onto her hand. She laughed, then looked affronted, then mock-cried, then ‘no-no-noed’ at him when we simply moved her away saying ‘leave Casper alone’. And she did.
And so their friendship develops. He tolerates her suddenness and loudness, and occasionally headbutts her, or goes and flomps down a foot or so away from her if she’s napping on the floor, thereby joining her for a companionable sleep. For her part she’s constantly asking about him; “eh Capi? Eh Capi?” is a regular refrain, especially when she’s out in the garden. (“Where’s Casper?” in case it wasn’t obvious.)
I remember talking to the vet about this when Casper went for an annual checkup and jabs, and said vet saying: “Oh yes. Cats have a mental category called ‘human kitten’. She’ll get away with things you never could.”
I’m very proud of my human kitten for responding to our training around the cat so well; she does seem to be starting to respect him as a real creature, not a toy.
But I’m even prouder of our Fat Kitten*. Well done, Casper. We love you.
*Our nickname for him. He’s not actually fat – we checked with the vet – just very, very large and powerful. And a total wuss. It’s brilliant.