Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I have two theories as to why Jinx has lived so long. Three theories actually but I have nothing to say about genetics. Anyway, the first theory is that his middle years were spent in relatively spartan conditions, cold San Francisco rooms crowded with other cats. Thus he appreciates the life he has: plenty of space, warmth, permission to get on the bed, and wet food. My second theory is that he's always been around other cats, and now that he's alone, he finally gets to be the "cute cat," something that he's observed throughout his life but as an alpha male always in the company of other cats, his responsibilities have prevented him from being the baby. Cat fun fact #1: domestic cats follow the same kinds of gender roles that lions follow. The job of the females is to go out and hunt, and the job of the males is to protect the territory, including the lionesses, from other lions. Thus male cats sit around and boss everybody around while the females are social and hunt. From a contemporary perspective this arrangement makes the males look lazy and chauvinist (multiple-wives, periodic domineering gestures), but it seems to work. Cat fun fact #2: cats are the least evolved mammals. Meaning that they've had to change/adapt very little over the hundred of thousands of years they've been here .

I first met Jinx at Melanie and Collin's apartment. Amy and I were cat sitting while they and the kid (singular at that point) were away. There were four cats: Boo, Kitty Girl (KG), Jinx, and Kitty Buddy. I had an immediate liking for KG, who was cute and soft, a little heavy, and a her blue eyes were a little cross-eyed, that, combined with the serious expression on her face made her extremely cute. She would jump up on my lap and dig her claws into my legs and I petted her and she purred and she had found herself another admirer. Jinx, on the other hand, would just sit, either in the doorway or down the hallway, and stare. Sit and stare, usually right into my eyes. It was unnerving, and my initial impression of Jinx was that he was a creep. He bullied the other cats, either wapping them with his paws as they walked by or making them get up from their spots to steal their warmth. In relation to humans, he would jump up on counter tops and dressers and seemingly, intentionally knock things off onto the floor. Yet, at night, in the big bed, he was the only cat who would lay close to me, and would position his then heavy body, to lounge in the space between my legs. 

Part of what makes Jinx Jinx is that he's a big cat. Long legs, really long feet, and strong and stiff limbs that could probably do some damage if he wanted them to. In San Francisco Mitch, the neighbor across the hall, also had two cats. We (Chris, my roommate, me and Mitch) would leave our doors open so that the cats could intermingle and explore. At first the cats would just sit across from each other, stare, and hiss. KG never really expressed much interest Mitch's cats or his apartment, and typically stayed out of sight in my room. Meanwhile Mitch's cats would make occasional raids into the apartment, looking for KG (the only female of the four cats) or trying to score some cat food when Jinx was sleeping. Jinx, who never really cared much about food, eventually started going into Mitch's apartment and laying down on the couch. Like Russia in the Ukraine, there was nothing Mitch's cats could do about it. Or in Oakland, Jinx would wander down the rickety wooden stair case in the back and sit in the court yard amongst the picnic table, the orange tree, and the rotten oranges that fell from the tree. When I started to hear noises, I would come down and inevitably find Jinx sitting calmly, staring at another cat. Said cat would be hissing, arching it's back, and freaking out. All this is to say, since there aren't any more cats around, no KG to protect and not much interest in meeting other cats, his role has changed.