Tuesday, December 8, 2009

About Alex

Amazing Alex... I've written about him before, my cat Alex. But since I've come home from El Paso, I've marveled at his ways. Let me tell you some of them (as he chases Annie - my other cat - throughout the house and I say, now and then, "Hey, hey - stop that!").

Here's an example. Every morning, for the last six months or so, I've given Alex and Annie wet cat food as soon as I wake up. Well, as soon as I get up - I usually don't get up as soon as I wake up... Well, and as soon as I've made the coffee - I make the coffee first so it's brewing while I dish out the cat food. The point is, I have a routine. I don't break from that routine, unless I'm traveling, and then the cat sitter follows that routine, for the most part.

But for Alex, there is doubt. There must be doubt, because he spends the entire time in the kitchen meowing and winding his way around my ankles, watching my every move, wondering, (must be) wondering - will she feed me this time? What if she won't feed me this time? "Don't forget, don't forget," he meows as I dish out the food on their separate plates. Every so often he jumps on the counter - presumably to "help" - and I have to scold him off of it, which creates delay, so he does this only when he can't stand the uncertainty for another second.

Annie, on the other hand, sits calmly, patiently. She knows what's coming. She knows it is coming in the next 30 seconds or so. When I set down the plates, she gives me one sweet meow, as though saying thanks, before starting to eat. Alex, on the other hand, is already inhaling the food on his plate.

Contrast this with the two of them pre-kitchen. Here is where Annie is antsy, and will meow in my face if she thinks I'm not moving fast enough from the bed to the kitchen. This must be where her doubt lies - before the movement. Alex, on the other hand (now this really makes no sense) is happy to lounge, curled up next to me, sleepy still, letting me have my wake-up time.

So what is that about? Why is he so calm before the process gets started, but beside himself at the point of inevitability? Is it a guy thing? That's all I can figure out. It must be a guy thing - at the moment of movement, he gets anxious, has all kinds of doubts. He knows he wants to be fed - but why does he need to rely on me to accomplish that task?

Another Alex thing. He's perfectly happy to have nothing to do with me for hours at a time - days, in the summer, as long as I feed him. But if just for one moment I should try to be friendly to another cat, it's Armageddon. He (reluctantly) has accepted that I'm nice to Annie, but that's where he draws the line. This has made for some scary and hairy times since I've come home from El Paso, because there are several new cats in the neighborhood and they've decided to camp out on our front porch. I've worked hard not to be friendly to them - I know how that drives him nuts - but he still is beside himself because of the porch liberties they are taking. Nearly every day, I hear cat growls outside the house and must go out to stop the cat fight before it begins. The other day, after I'd let Alex in from outside, he came over to me and meowed once. "Are you okay, honey?" I said, and went to pet him. My hand hit the cat claw that was sticking out of the top of his head. We had to go to the vet to get it removed. The vet assistant tried to be sympathetic. I shook her off. "I'm sure he started it," I said.

How can a cat be so sweet and loving and yet vicious at the same time? He only attacks other cats. He adores people, and they adore him. It's the other-cat thing that drives him crazy. That for sure is a guy thing.

I've said often how I feel bad for him, putting up with Annie and me - the two old ladies. He should be out on the town, "catting about" as it were, the stud that he is. But there's something about this home that draws him, keeps him near. It must be that cat food.

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