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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TAPO



Tapo is the leastun of the 3 cats. She was so ravenous as a kitten when I was bottle feeding them I learned right away to feed Tapo until she passed out. If she didn't pass out from fullness, she'd be climbing my pants leg for more the moment I put her down. Her kitten eyes were pleading all the time. Pleading for food, pleading to be picked up. She wanted the bottle so much she pushed it away by desperately groping for it. Getting it past those two windmilling front paws made me laugh every time to see her wanting it so bad that all her effort was pushing it away. It seemed something like a parable.
Tapo has a sense of humor that is gentle and funny at once. Caterpillar annoys her most of the time. A time when I was feeding them, Caterpillar and TarBaby were on the table I feed them on, about 3 feet square. They were walking in circles, round and round, excited I was opening the catfood can. They were both wound up and excited. I knew first time one touched the other, it would be on, and knew it would happen. They were too close to each other for it not to happen.
TarBaby bumped Caterpillar, she pounced on him and held him down while she boxed him, both of them howling and TarBaby squirming to get loose. She wasn't letting him go and Tapo, in the other room hearing the commotion came into the kitchen to have a look. From the floor she jumped up and landed on Caterpillar's back with all 4 feet. Caterpillar hissed with everything she had, TarBaby slipped free and Caterpillar slid out from under Tapo and stood when she stopped with a bewildered look in her eyes like she just woke up and was trying to figure out where she was. She was so befuddled she shook her head attempting to pull herself back together. Tapo stood there on the table and laughed.
One day I was outside and Tapo was hanging around with me. Caterpillar came along. She was 10 to 15 feet away. I saw Tapo look at her. Tapo's eyes flashed with inspiration. She saw it to do and she was going to do it.
She ran by Caterpillar full speed just a few inches from her nose and stopped a little ways beyond to turn and look. Caterpillar jumped straight up a couple of feet, turned half way around in the air hissing and landed facing the direction she'd come from. Tapo was laughing at Caterpillar getting so rattled. Again, Caterpillar was befulddled having to figure out where she was. She shook her head. No attempt to attack Tapo. It was like she didn't even know what happened.
Before the kittens came along, the house had what I call a spirit cat. It was what I took for a ghost of a cat that might have died under the house some time or other before I moved in. I'd seen it several times out of the corner of my eye. Mostly I'd see it when I opened the door and came in by surprise. I'd see a cat-shaped shadow dart behind something. One day after being gone 2 weeks, I came in the door and the shadow cat was in the middle of the room. It ran all the way to a corner giving me a good look at it, the only good look I ever got.
After the cats were born I never saw it again. My feeling is that it found a body in the newborn kittens to get back into. And I suspect Tapo is the one. She was shaped like the shadow cat and she walked like it with her tail straight up and ran in short dashes. She's been eagerly hungry since she was born, leading me to wonder about the shadow cat unable to eat, longing to eat. To see how she looks, imagine a black basketball with 4 legs and a little cat head with ears and eyes. She waddles like a black 4-legged duck.
There was a time when they were a few years old and Caterpillar and TarBaby were wearing Tapo out pouncing on her so much. They did it just to aggravate her and it worked. One day when she was on my lap I told her in words, explained to her she doesn't need to take it. I said, just roll over on your back when they jump on you and rip their guts out with your back claws. Next time TarBaby jumped on her she did it and he jumped right off. The same happened next time Caterpillar pounced on her. It didn't stop them, but it got them off of her in a hurry.
Then about a year ago Caterpillar had been intimidating her with the look in her eyes for her entire life. Again, she was on my lap and I explained to Tapo with words that she doesn't have to take it. I said it's just a look. Give her a look right back and see what happens. Same day, Tapo was crouched on the footstool like the Sphinx facing the open doorway. Caterpillar started in the door. She looked up and saw Tapo and Tapo was giving her the eye. Caterpillar stopped, backed up and growled, couldn't look at her and backed out the door.
For days after that I'd see Tapo give Caterpillar the look that says I'm gonna pounce on you, and watch Caterpillar back down and ease away like she was afraid of Tapo. I was so dumbfounded I felt like Caterpillar trying to figure out where she was. Twice Tapo did exactly as I'd explained to her in words, phrases and sentences. Of course, it was telepathic as I don't believe she understood the words, because her vocabulary of words she recognizes doesn't include words she'd never heard, like "rip their guts out." Moments like that convince me we're in closer touch than I imagine.








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