So, as I’ve mentioned, we have cats.
We have, pretty much, the best of all cats, and we have two of them. They’re named after Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn (or, “Thought” and “Memory”). I adore them.
When we first got the boys, Tom and I were certain that Huginn had chosen me, and Muninn had chosen Tom. This was based on their behavior at the shelter, and also catvibes. Tomthulhu is the Cat Whisperer. Even evil feral violent cats are won over by his wiles. Wiles. He has them.
It turns out, we were totally wrong on both counts. Muninn is my rotten baby, and Huginn is Tom’s bosom buddy.
There are a few outcomes of becoming the stewards of this particular duo. They need a lot of stimulation and could use more space (Come On, January!). They’re both grazers by nature, but who became accustomed to scheduled feedings while they were in the shelter, which means they mooch. Huginn was adopted once and returned to the shelter for getting “too big”. The boys need each other, and wrestle a lot. If I liked our neighbors, I’d feel bad for the late night herd of stampeding elephants we keep in our apartment. I don’t, so you know, it’s cool. Muninn does not like to be excluded from activity in the apartment, which can make cooking and eating in our small space into a bit of a training exercise, at times. Luckily, he’s very responsive to a quick squirt of water and a firm syllable. They’re also both fairly big and very playful boys. They’re also natural climbers — something we hope to encourage in a safe way in our next apartment.
Outcomes include: Tidiness. Leaving things out (power cords, food items or wrappers, game controllers, glasses, etc) is just not an option. Things need to be put away for the panthers (and our stuff) to be safe. The Bathroom door is closed unless there is a person in the bathroom. Apparently, our bathroom is a magical land of curiosity and delight? Mostly they like to knock my make-up down the drain and get cat fur in the tub. I’m particular about the bathroom, and so it’s a no-cat zone unless they have supervision. Changing parameters for our next place! Our boys are very, very polite with the litter box. I am seriously so proud of them. They’re perfect gentlemen, and I could not be more grateful. They even announce when they would prefer that their litter be changed. But given how much they tear around, hardwood, tile, or vinyl floors are probably a must for them. They’re pretty respectful of our belongings, partially because they get plenty of attention and play time. This will only increase as I transition to working remotely, but I’d still like them to associate “carpet material” with “toys or climbing things” and not “a thing of mommy’s to destroy.” That means adjusting the kind of furniture we buy, and how we train them to respond to our space.
It’s also sort of a big deal? They are both under the age of two. They will probably be with us for another fifteen years or more, given what we feed them, that they are insured, immunized, and are indoor cats. My last cat lived to be nearly twenty-two. In fifteen years, Tom and I will be forty-seven. My hope is that we will remain in love, happy, and healthy during that time — and I know that is Tom’s hope as well. We also may choose to have or adopt a child or children some time in there, if that’s a thing we want to do together. Life will change. Careers will change, and households. Friends will likely come and go, and so will the things that hold our interest and keep us passionate.
I have already made our friend Emily promise that, when the cats die, her beetle colony will take care of them, and that their skulls will adorn our home. I am uninterested in opinions about that, by the way. Emily agreed enthusiastically because she’s a good friend. Who loves bones. It’s whatever. I have cool friends.
But also, these creatures are autonomous. They need me, sure. But they will age and change and grow, and need me to adjust and change to meet those needs. It’s my job to do that, because I took them on for life. That means trouble shooting behavior problems, making sure we balance loving attention and attentive training and correction, attending regular veterinary visits, updating Amazon subscriptions for their food, litter, and medicine to keep them healthy and free of parasites. We can’t just leave for the weekend with a dish of food and the faith that they will be alright. We’ll need someone to stop in, check on them, play with them, love them in our absence.
We will also lose them, one day. And they will lose each other. At some point, one of my boys will lose his best friend and playmate. Either Tom or I will be missing our deeply bonded panther buddy, while the other lives on. That will be hard. But in the meantime, we have them, and they have each other, and it’s basically the best thing ever. I’m deeply in love.