I’m sorry; I had to do it. I had to write a post about a cat.
This is Otis, named for my friend’s deep and abiding love for Otis Redding’s work. Otis is beautiful, and is even softer and sleeker than he looks. Otis is also… aloof.
Our first house-sit, a few years back, didn’t go well. Otis did NOT like the way I pet him, and he was pissed off (he made THAT clear) that I wasn’t my friend. He kind of sniffed me when I came in, and spent the rest of the time avoiding me. He slept on the bed once. In ten days. Under duress.
I came home depressed that Otis loathed me, with scratches to my elbows. Nevertheless, I vowed that I would somehow, some way, persuade that cat that I was good people.
The next time, Otis said something like, “Oh. You again. Great.” I adjusted my strategies.
No petting, except that initiated by Otis. If he stropped against my legs, I’d hunker down and hold out my hands and let him bang back and forth all he wanted. I stopped reaching towards him and over him. You reach over him, he goes batshit.
I started talking to him. Something like, “I know you loathe me. I’m sorry you’re in this position.” Or, “Dude, I am nowhere near you, stop looking at me like that.”
When I left, I had fewer scratches, and he had deigned to spend the night on the bed three nights out of ten. Provisional success.
The third time, Otis sighed and said, “Fine. You’re a good learner.” He spent the night on the bed maybe five times, and he even fell asleep on me for fifteen minutes while I watched TV on the couch. When he woke up, he looked a little disgusted, like he’d done something stupid in a weak moment, but I knew I had him. He started hanging his head off the edge of the table, asking me to pet his neck. Our conversations got more complex.
THIS time, I walked in the door and Otis said, “Hey, baby, where you been?”
I couldn’t get him off me. He followed me around. He slept on the bed with me, sometimes ON me, every night. Once, he slept on my shins. I have no idea what that was about. AND he snuggled on the couch. He gave me minimal dirty looks (and let me tell you, Otis can throw a dirty look). It was wonderful.
And I only wanted to kill him (kind of) once, when, at three in the morning, he ran full tilt through the kitchen, into the bedroom, onto the bed, and UP MY BODY ONTO MY FACE.
I threw him off me, turned on the light, and said, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Go to bed, you jerk!” I was laughing.My.Ass.Off. And he laid down next to me, and went to sleep.