We tend to think of cats as being aloof and detached, and of dogs as being more needy – Emery has his moments of detachment, but he also has moments of extreme neediness!
This elegant-looking tabby manx boy has been with us for more than five years now. And in that five years, not much has changed. He still hates other cats – though perhaps less hates them than avoids them. He still pees wherever he feels like it, no matter how many litter boxes are more convenient. But at the same time as he indulges in all this antisocial behaviour, he’s a very needy cat, and has discovered how many of the volunteers will indulge him.
Few cats ask to be held; there are many who will happily jump on a lap when it’s offered, and settle down for a stroking session, but actually being held is not so popular. KitKat will jump on a shoulder, but she wants the freedom to jump off again. A few of our “Garbo” cats look for a Sunday visitor to snuggle them – Tigger, Timmy and Leland are all cats who look for visitors like Ronald and Sadie to offer them a blanket and half an hour of quiet attention.
But Emery waits till his favourite people appear and hovers anxiously, reaching out an eager paw, until you get close enough for him to climb across to you. A lap is not enough – if there’s a lap, there are also other cats. Emery wants to have you all to himself, and he wants to be held while you stand upright. His paws reach around your neck, his head butts in under your chin, a cold wet nose is tight against your neck – and he’s in heaven. I have to admit that my heart melts when he does that, and I will often interrupt the changing of water-bowls or the doling out of more dried food to give him the cuddles he needs so much.
We think there’s probably some Bengal in Emery’s ancestry; his long muscular back legs enable him to launch himself to the roof of the breezeway cupboard that holds canned food, from where he has his solitary view over the proceedings. Unlike Hannah (now adopted), who used to take a flying leap from there onto the shoulder of an unsuspecting passing visitor, Emery waits till the shoulder is offered, and steps down carefully. In some of the beds he chooses, his long legs obviously don’t quite fit, and they sometimes stick out at odd angles, or in what I call his Supercat Pose.
Let Sleeping Cats Lie, is his motto; he does have some favourite beds within reach, but he doesn’t like to be disturbed, unless you are one of his Special People. He’s not really food-motivated, like so many of the others – what he wants is affection (and being out of sight of other cats). I am sure that part of his favourite snuggled-against-the-neck pose is to shut out the view of all those other cats – on the ostrich principle, if he can’t see them, they’re not there.
His other love is a very Bengal trait – he adores running water from the tap, and waits anxiously till the sink is empty of cans, and the tap is flowing to refresh water-bowls. Ignoring wet feet, he laps from the tap, and like our much-loved departed Bengal Lucky, he can spend twenty minutes in the sink waiting for the tap to be turned on again.
But nothing beats a real hug, and he waits anxiously to see when his next Chosen Hugger will come within reach.