It’s hard to believe the orange furry pest that has been called Nero and Buttercup and now Willie has been with us for a year, because didn’t we always have him under our feet and trying to dart through the door? A house with three boys and a dog must have seemed absolutely empty before he came along and stole our hearts.
I am grateful to the gods of animal karma that we have been so blessed with gentle-tempered pets. Anyone who knows Katie will agree that she is truly a princess among dogs, and much as I’d never admit it in his presence, Willie is just as sweet. He’s a quirkly little cat, though. We had a suck of a tabby before, an affectionate lump that would start to purr the moment you walked into the room. Willie hardly purrs at all, and he’s not much for cuddling. If he’s been sleeping and you give him a couple of long, gentle strokes, you might get a quiet minute or two of purring, but he’s quite discerning about when and to whom he bestows the honour of a purr. And he does NOT like to cuddle, except when he does, which is usually at 3 am.
What’s funny is that it’s clearly Katie he wants to cuddle with. He still tries every now and then to snuggle into her furry yellow warmth, and to my ongoing surprise, Katie will have none of it. Willie will drop down beside her as she’s sleeping, pushing himself into her flank, and she will look at us with the same pained expression she gives us when the boys are poking or prodding or (cringe) using her as a step-stool to get on to the sofa — the look that clearly says, “Do you see this? Do you see what I put up with? I get extra dog cookies for tolerating this, right?” before getting up, moving six inches away from the cat, and going back to sleep. They’re cute when they play together, too — Katie is 147 times Willie’s size, but Willie will charge at her from across the room or leap up on his hind legs and try to wrap his forelegs around her neck while digging his teeth into her ruff. Katie bats him across the floor with a gentle paw swipe or sends him rolling by knocking him with the side of her jaw. It’s always fun to watch!
Willie clearly loves Tristan. He tolerates the rest of us, and is incredibly patient with Lucas carrying him around the house like a baby with his feet in the air, but it is clearly Tristan with whom Willie has bonded. Often as not, he’ll sleep on Tristan’s bed, and will come running at the sound of his master’s voice. I’m pretty sure Willie thinks that the boys are just big hairless littermates.
In truth, he’s a very un-cat-like cat. He loves to play fetch, for example. The boys will throw a small sponge ball or other stuffie toy down the hall and Willie will tear off after it, bringing it back as often as not. And oh yes, he does love stuffies. He carries them all over the house and we find them in the strangest places.
While he is playful and has chewed a few things he should have left alone (Beloved’s garden shoes come to mind) in general he’s been very good with his claws (which we decided to leave intact) and his teeth. I’m glad, in fact, that we decided to leave his claws in for another reason. Even though it has been our intention all along that Willie remain an indoor cat, Willie has other ideas on the subject. He’s dying to get outside.
One day a month or so ago, I was working from home. I heard a banging sound coming from the patio door in my room, but assumed he was just batting at bugs on the screen door. It was only when I went to close all the doors on my way out to pick up the boys at school that I realized what he had been doing is swatting the screen door open with his paws. It took me nearly 15 heart-wrenching minutes to find him creeping through the long grass at the side of the house.
We’d given up on trying to keep a collar on him in the winter, as he was taking just a few minutes to shuck himself out of the easy-off ones. I figured if he was going to escape, I’d better get him a proper collar, so I got one with a silver buckle. Which he chewed through the first day. Because mostly, I think he loves to vex me.
He still tries to run out the door between our feet a couple of times a day. We’ve found him outside half a dozen or so times now, when he’s managed to sneak out undetected either with one of the boys or as the dog has come in and out. He doesn’t seem to have made it any further than the edges of our lawn — yet. Mostly because I think he’s a creature of comfort, despite his occassional bouts of wanderlust.
He’s a photogenic little fur-ball, isn’t he? Since my first sales statement with Getty Images last October, I’ve sold a cat picture every single month. I’m just waiting for the May statement in the next day or so, wondering if the cat-streak will stay alive!
Happy cativersary, Willie. We do love you, you wee orange beastie, you…