I often mention our cats in this weblog, and I assume that most of you know their names and personalities. Obviously, given the nature of the internet, this is not a safe assumption. Therefore, this entry will serve as an introduction to the feline residents of Rosings Park.
Toto is black: black of fur and black of heart. She has earned a reputation as being one of the bitchiest cats alive, but in actuality, she’s rather sweet. Too sweet. She keeps Kris awake at night, demanding love and attention. She will purr and then gently paw Kris’ chin until she gets the scritching she feels she deserves. Toto used to love outside, but now she’s mostly housebound. She’s getting old. Whereas she used to run and play and leap around, mostly she sleeps on the bed.
Perhaps you remember the entry in which I am interviewed by Toto the cat?
Other Names: Princess, Bloato, Girly-Girl
Birthdate: 03 May 1994
Color: Black with a very few white hairs
Meow: A sort of whiny squawk or cackle, even when she’s happy.
Stature: Small and stocky. Toto is dense. Her body is far too big for her tiny head.
Nature: Loving, but particular. Often wants all of your attention, but she only wants it her way. A famous hisser and scratcher.
Intelligence: Toto is the smartest cat I have ever known. When she was young, we taught her several tricks. She loved to fetch, for example. She’s always come when called. She understands the concept of doorknobs, though much to her consternation, she lacks an opposable thumb.
Petting rules: Only pet her shoulder or head unless she is purring, in which case you may pet any part of her body (until she suddenly stops purring and hisses and scratches).
Favorite People: Dad, Mom (but only when Mom is asleep), Auntie Tiff, Auntie Aimee.
Mortal Enemies: Nemo, Auntie Pam
Favorite Food: Pork products! Tuna! Starches! (Toto has been known to eat baked potato skins, dinner rolls, and she’s especially fond of bagels with cream cheese.)
Favorite Phrase: “I hate you.”
Hunting Prowess: Toto used to be a wily hunter. When we lived in Canby, she was death to goldfinches. She often brought the birds into the house to show them to us. In one notable case, I was watching the summer Olympics while eating a bowl of hot soup. Unbeknownst to me, Toto brought in a bird and released it: it flew from her mouth, startling me so that I spilled hot soup on my lap. Toto leaped around after the bird, which was flying into ceiling, bumping it repeatedly, leaving bloodstains that remained even when we sold the house last year. Toto’s prowess has declined since her mysterious illness fifteen months ago. (She’s really become old and feeble, losing much of her grace and balance.)
Simon is a big lug. He’s a very attractive fellow, and he knows it, often posing for photographs. He’s surprisingly tolerant of children: he will let them rush up to him and rub him all over. Weekends are his favorites because he’s allowed to stay outside almost all day. And any day in which he’s been allowed outside, he’s a much sweeter cat in the evening. Simon doesn’t play much, but when he does, he torments his little brother mercilessly.
Simon wrote the weblog entry The Blood of a Squirrel.
Name: Simon Albert Gates
Other Names: Fatso, Big Guy, Big Goof, Gordo, Diplodicus
Birthdate: 02 August 2001 (the day that Tintin died)
Color: Brownish with grey stripes
Meow: A pitiful Mike Tyson-esque mew unworthy of his size and stature.
Stature: Enormous. Friends often say things like, “That cat is huge!” Yesterday Lisa said, “Simon is massive!” He’s not particularly heavy, but he’s long and stout and has huge paws. He looks dangerous.
Nature: Aloof, but friendly. Simon often likes to be near people, but he doesn’t really want to be touched. It is only in the past few months that he’s begun sleeping on the bed with us. Over the past couple of weeks, he’s become quite fond of sitting on the bath mat while I soak.
Intelligence: Simon is not particularly bright. In fact, he’s rather dull.
Petting rules: You must let him smell your hand first. Most likely he will move away, but he may deign to allow you to pet his head and back. Do not pet hard or long for fear of provoking his ire.
Favorite People: Mom, Uncle Jeff. Sometimes Dad.
Mortal Enemies: Flash (the neighborhood cat, with whom Simon frequently engages in Mind Games)
Favorite Food: The dregs of your breakfast cereal, especially the sweetened milk.
Favorite Phrase: “Whatever!” Also: “Outside?”
Hunting Prowess: Simon is strong and fast, but not particularly bright. If an animal is distracted, it is doomed because Simon will reach it and overpower it quickly. If an animal is aware of Simon’s presence, he’s never going to outsmart it. He seems to think that he’s going to score by sitting underneath the bird feeders, but he never does.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Nemo is not named for the fish. Nemo is named for a century-old comic strip character. Nemo is a bundle of energy, willing to play with whatever there is to play with. He looks up to Simon, and likes to wrestle with him whenever possible. Nemo also likes to play with the red stuffed cat (Red Cat) that sits on the dresser in the bedroom; he’ll jump up and throw the thing to the floor before attacking it.
Other Names: Neamster, Little Guy, Little Goof, Squeaky
Birthdate: 09 June 2003
Color: Typical seal-point Siamese
Meow: A plaintive squeak.
Stature: Thin and wiry. Squirmy. Nemo is medium-sized, but looks long and thin.
Nature: Nemo is Siamese. This means that he is always in motion, and not a little bit psycho. It’s difficult to get him to sit still for anything. He paces about, squeaking. He sits down for ten seconds, then gets up and moves two feet to a new spot. Nemo is very sweet, and fond of the entire family, though he loves to provoke Toto (who hates him).
Intelligence: Nemo is relatively smart, though he often lacks the patience to pursue more difficult tasks. (For example, he doesn’t understand doorknobs as Toto does; he doesn’t have the patience to play with them.)
Petting rules: If he’s in the mood to be petted, you may pet him as much as you want wherever you want. If he’s not in the mood to be petted, he won’t sit still, so it’s a lost cause.
Favorite People: Mom. Sometimes Dad. Anyone who will open the door for him.
Mortal Enemies: Walnut (the squirrel who lives in the tree just outside the front door)
Favorite Food: None. He never seems to eat.
Favorite Phrase: “I’m Siamese!” (As an explanation for whatever odd thing he has just done.)
Hunting Prowess: Inept. Nemo is the laughingstock of the neighborhood birds and animals. He has made a couple of kills over the past eighteen months, but I’m not sure how. Normally he makes blind charges that miss by a mile. The squirrels, in particular, love to mock him. They literally sit in the walnut tree and mock him. Once or twice a month, they lure him into the tree and then — I am not kidding — they play games in which they race up and down the tree past him, taunting him.
I told Kris the other day, “If you weren’t here to restrain me, I’d be one of those crazy cat ladies.” And I would be. I want more cats. I’m fine getting only one at a time, but I’d love to add a new cat to the household every year. Of course, this would only push Toto completely over the edge into insanity, and she would be hissing constantly. As it is, I’m patiently waiting for my little black daughter to die so that I may replace her with a new feline. Or two.