Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jinx communicates. When I come home sometimes he is waiting at the top of the stairs, and yowls when I begin to turn the key in the lock. Yowling. The light is off and I put my bike on my shoulder to carry it up the stairs, and he's at the top, yowling and trying to lead me into the kitchen. I can't tell if he hears me pull up on my bike, which seems unlikely, or if he just happens to be at the top of the stairs, sitting in the dark by the warm radiator. What goes on when I'm not there? This morning I got out of bed and found him sitting in the back hallway in a patch of sunshine, he was looking up in the air and waving his head around. I said, "Hey," sharply, and he turned around and yowled. I think I caught him doing something but I don't know what it was. And so I did my routine, him following behind me as I made my way to the bathroom, flossing and brushing my teeth while he sat outside of the bathroom door by the radiator at the top of the stairs. We are both entirely predictable.

He does the typical cat thing, yowling when I go through the motions of feeding him. He didn't used, which I figure was because Kitty Girl would do it for him. He would just sit there mute, watching, while she laid it on me. I used to think that he was less interested in food, but I think he was just participating in the division of cat labor: KG does the food thing, he does the big cat protection thing. So now he sits by his food and water, watches me and yowls as I open a can of cat food, yowls, and yowls when I set it in front of him. Of course I'm not silent either, and I'm either singing to him, songs about cat food; discussing our relationship, of feeding him and other pet related burdens; or spouting joyous, cat related nonsense. He is, in this situation, a captive audience, and watches me with an attentive look on his face. It's nice to have an audience, and I wonder if I my constant talking to him encourages our constant inter-species dialogue. 

He is so skinny these days, like, really skinny, and I consider it a success if he eats half of what I put on his plate. We suspect (as in, me and my veterinary neighbors) that he has the typical old cat kidney disease illness, and so I've been injecting him once a week with saline solution to keep him hydrated. When I stick the needle in his back, holding him between my legs and my left hand lightly wrapped around his neck to keep him from bounding off, his eyes are wide with what seems either like pain or fear, and I speak quietly into his ear tell him that it will be alright. When all this is done, 100 milliliters a fluid later, and I pull the needle out, he bounds away and yowls. So loud. Like the worst thing in the world just happened to him. KG just took it in silence but he fights and resists and lets me know that he doesn't like it.

This is one of the things I like most about Jinx, his unabashed lack of pretense. I believe this is what has kept him alive so long. When he wants something he asks for it, and if he doesn't like something he let's me know. He is consistent and mature in this regard. If he wants to go onto the porch he stands by the door and yowls. When he's cold he'll wander around and yowl. When he wants food he'll sit by the bowls and look at me. When he wants a pet he'll get onto the couch, walk over, and paw at my arm. Granted this is what cats generally do, and I'm not saying that Jinx is special. He doesn't jump through boxes or know any tricks. But, he seems to understand the word "no," or at least the concept, and if he's asking for something, it's fairly easy to communicate to him that I can't give him whatever it is at that particular time. In this sense, Jinx is a good communicator because he listens. I try to listen too, and we negotiate. He is not smart, but he is wise in this regard, and he engages me in ways I can understand. I admire him and I think he admires me. He comes when I call him, and I think this says a lot for a cat.