I think I have a minor cold. I've been sneezing ALL DAY. Not best pleased.
I am not fleeing Livejournal, never fear, but I AM going to be posting from Dreamwidth to LJ, because DW has cross-posting enabled, and LJ doesn't. So feel free to add me on DW if you like. I will be in both places, but mostly reading my f-list through LJ.
In other news, the cats are settling in, and Fish has been spotted playing with Etrigan several times. It was decidedly of the "hold them down and pretend to bite them" school of playing, but it was
play, and it's not like Smooch, the hairy marshmallow devil, doesn't do just the same. Smooch, alas, has been getting no love from the girls. I think he's too big and strange. They'll get over it.
Sif remains Concerned Cat, and this has made her fussier and more nervous than usual. She is still very sweet, and still Means Well. Roleplaying tonight, I was pretending tears, and she became quite concerned until I demonstrated that all was, in fact, well.
I will admit that for a few days I was afraid that I wasn't the right human for Smooch, but he has settled in, and Etrigan, probably the most charismatically and consistently adorable young cat I have ever met, was part of the household from almost the very first day. I think we're probably good to go.
Smooch is the strangest cat. He's physically a high-maintenance cat, but not emotionally. He is very quiet and demands very, very little, and doesn't seem to need much cuddling. I would think he was unhappy and didn't like us if it weren't for the fact that he will follow me from room to room, not laying on me or next to me, but laying where he can see me. And if I am going back and forth carrying things from room to room, or even just going to the bathroom for a moment, he follows directly at heel and will follow me back. I offer to snuggle him, and he puts up with it for a few moments, then goes on his way (I'm not going to force him to cuddle; for one, it's not nice, and for another, he is an incredibly strong cat). Even when he solicits snuggles, he rarely does so for more than a minute or two before he departs (without, it must be said, any rancor at all).
He has the heart of a kitten hidden deep in all that fur, and plays with Etrigan tirelessly, wrestling and bunny-kicking and chasing. They are very, very happy. Getting them both was, without a doubt, the right choice. This would not have worked any other way. I am coming to realize that Smooch is a cat's cat; he relates to other cats as though he is an adult cat and they are also adult cats (many cats regard humans as adult cats, and perceive themselves in a 'kitten' role, and others simply do not seem to regard themselves as cats at all), and I think he relates to other humans as though they are fellow adult cats, too. He doesn't snuggle Etrigan, but he does like to know where Etrigan is, and will often follow him or seek him out just to be nearby. He treats me much the same.
I know he likes me, and sees me as a friend. He tells me so quite clearly when he stretches languidly under my hand as I do a drive-by petting, and when he walks past me he will in turn curl his tail against my calf before smooching on his merry way, which is the cat equivalent of a squeeze and a kiss, or when he tries to groom the hateful face-hugger off of me (my glasses) with great persistence. He endures handling with general good-natured calm whenever he has Troubles and needs to have his face cleaned or his butt fur trimmed or his feet washed or his fur brushed.
It isn't the affection style I was used to with Tazendra, who was not very catlike at all, and certainly didn't interact with the other living denizens of casa Naamah
as though she were a cat. It's different, is all, and I'm having to get used to it. I don't have a problem accepting him on his own terms, I like
that he is a Different Cat, but as it's not an affection style I am experienced with, and it does leave me fearful that I am doing it wrong and something more is required on my end.
I care very deeply, obviously, but that is not always enough. We have to be willing to listen and learn and we have to put ourselves in their situation and look at things from their point of view: what are they trying to say? What are their actions meant to accomplish or convey? What is the source of their tension? What makes them comfortable, and what makes them fearful? Why?
Cats are not as complex as we are emotionally but they do have feelings, every bit as much as a human child. I have seen them display embarrassment, anger, affection, disgust, contentment, jealousy, rage, fear, worry, anticipation, curiosity, disappointment, boredom, grief, loneliness, remorse, annoyance, sadness, shame, frustration.
They feel all these things, but they have very, very little with which to make themselves understood. Ears, body, eyes, tail, a variety of sounds that is only somewhat consistent from cat to cat, and a small but powerful library of instinctive actions (and almost always a few learned ones) to convey pleasure or displeasure or to demonstrate a need or a fear, like the different ways they can sharpen their claws, which all convey something meaningful, or scent-marking with feet and chin and bodily functions, and the many inappropriate ways they may do this when things are frustrating to them, or engaging in repetitive annoying and forbidden behavior to get our attention.
We have to work to understand them, and their sometimes roundabout ways of expressing themselves. Some are easy to live with, some very hard, but they are all individuals, and the damaged ones can't really be blamed, since all too often that damage comes as a result of humans having failed them.
So I am still in the process of trying to understand Smooch and what motivates and interests him, what he likes and does not like, so that I can be a good family member and friend to him for however long I have him. (I don't worry about Etrigan, and if you met him you wouldn't, either. He could get along with just about anyone, anywhere.) This is what I wanted, this is the work I wanted to do, to make a new friend and give someone really special a home. And I am happy it's him
, with his oversized yeti paws and his terrible breath and his sweet little scrunched-up face and the way he sleeps in the most ridonkulous positions.This is his Petfinder listing,
which I had open for three days before I gave in and called. And you know, I'm awfully glad I did.