You probably all know Larry, beautiful short-haired tuxedo cat with big ears, one of the “greeters” in the double-wide. With his sleek coat, soulful eyes, and funny little bow-legged walk, he is, in my eyes, the handsomest and most charming cat in the whole shelter.
I fell for him on sight, hook, line, and sinker, and I dared to hope he felt the same way about me – that maybe we had a little something special going on. His personality, though, is an enigma. When I look at those cheeky eyes and that little pink bip under his mouth, I think he looks insouciant – like he just stole something – or, as my friend said, like a young Hugh Grant, only with better acting skills. But as I got to know him, I discovered another side to him, a shy vulnerability behind the mask of saucy self-assurance. Or did I? The second time we met, here’s what happened.
Kitty Comforter walks into the double wide, sees Larry. Their eyes meet. Cue soft music. Larry perks up expectantly.
KC: Larry!! Precious Darling !! Perfect One!! I’ve been LONGING to see you.
Larry: Oh KC!! I know you luv me. Come and see me NEOW!!
KC: Tell you what. Let me get all my serious kitty comforting out of the way and then I’ll save some special time for you at the end. I like to save the best for last.
L: [Looks at her blankly]
KC: [goes into cage, comforts sick cat diligently. Comes out. Gazes adoringly at Larry.]
L: [Looks a bit crestfallen]. I thought you were coming to seeeee meeeee. Oooohhh.
KC: Perfect Darling. I am!! I am counting the moments. I am saving the best for last. [goes into another cage, kitty comforts responsibly and well. Comes out. Gazes adoringly at Larry.]
L: [Looks up hopefully]
KC: Sweet Darling! I’m coming. I will be there soon. Did you never hear of delayed gratification?
L: Wut? [looks at floor]
This continues for about half an hour, Larry becoming increasingly crestfallen as time goes by. Finally . . .
KC: [comes out of last cage]. Larry! My perfect one !! I’m finished my work. I’m all yours now. Think of what a lovely long, uninterrupted luv-in we can have together. It will be worth the wait, I promise you. [rummages in bag for treats and hastens across the room towards Larry].
L: [sees her coming and suddenly sticks his leg in the air and starts licking his nether regions.]
KC: Larry !! Sweetheart!! Beautiful One!! Darling !! I’m here !!
L: [Continues licking bottom]. Nope. I don’t know you. Never seen you before in my life. [Ignores her completely]
KC: I’m here now, Perfect Kitten. Do you want some treats?
L: Treats?? Noe !! I couldn’t swallow them now – they’d choke me. How could you possibly offer me treats?? [licks hind quarters more vigororously. Grinds his muzzle into a difficult bit of leg. Continues to ignore KC completely].
KC: O Larry wibble bibble. I wuv you. My special catting. My one and only.
[No response. KC finally goes home chagrined and humbled].
And fascinated too. They have such distinct personalities, like snowflakes, no two the same. And I find it kind of magical whenever I see such clear evidence of animal cognition and animal communication.
I decided I would have to be more careful with Larry from now on, as he appears to be more sensitive than his beautiful exterior would suggest. Now, whenever I see Larry, he gives me that mournful, hopeful, expectant look, and, conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs, I rush to him first and give him a super extra fuss, acting as if he is the only cat in the room, and lavishing treats on him while he looks all shy and vulnerable.
We are getting on well now. But I am never quite sure if he is really so demure and sensitive, or if he is so clever he has me wound around his little finger (paw).
But I do wuv him.
Blog & pictures by Moira Langley