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Thursday, January 28, 2010


tapo's eyes

Finally I got a picture of Tapo with her eyes doing like they sometimes do, appealing for something, like petting. When she was a tiny kitten she appealed with those eyes calling from the depth of her belly for food, then the bottle. I got one picture with a polaroid of her then that caught her eyes fairly well. Since then I've never been able to get another. When I hold up the camera, everything changes. They aren't quite sure about it. It's a foreign object and it's being aimed at them. Humans are notorious in the animal kingdom for pointing something at you that goes bang, you're dead. I saw her on the red pillow and liked her configuration. As I was getting ready, she looked at me like this and I went click, caught it just as she was moving out of it, first motion. The motion gives her eyes the life I see in them that photographs have a difficult getting.

When she was going outside a lot, Tapo learned to get my attention when she wanted in by scratching the glass window beside the door and looking at me with eyes that believe they can get my attention if they just stare hard enough. They do. Sometimes she won't scratch the glass, she'll stand at the window and bore a hole in me with the intensity in her eyes until they catch my attention. I look up and see Tapo's eyes telling me she's back, needs the door opened, would open it herself if she could, please help. Most often, the scratch on the glass gets my attention, her eyes do the talking.

She was born ravenous, wanting feeding all the time. To calm her down from climbing my pants leg every time I put her down, appealing with her eyes, feed me, feed me, I fed her with the bottle until she passed out. I felt a little guilty like sticking a baby's head in the gas oven to put it to sleep. But it was that or she's climbing me all the time with those eyes like headlights on high beam leading the way. Finally able to feed herself, she ate herself round as a soccer ball. She walks like a soccer ball with cat legs, kind of stiff legged and wobbly, black tail straight up, head bobbing, cat ears up like a Batman logo.

At a certain size she didn't get any bigger, stayed there. I feel like she's comfortable there because she's the smallest of the cats, bottom of the pecking order, and wanted to bring her weight up to Caterpillar's for better defense. Both TarBaby and Caterpillar can attack Tapo, but Tapo can't attack either of them. If she does, they teach her a lesson she won't forget. So she doesn't. In their time equivalent to our teens when they were establishing pecking order, TarBaby and Caterpillar jumped Tapo every day, kept her furious all the time. They did it to make her mad and it worked. Every time. The cats never hurt each other. But one of them would jump on her, start a screaming catfight and they roll around on the floor like a bowling ball with a mind of its own.

She hated it and I couldn't blame her. I thought I'd try talking to her, it was the only way I could explain something that might help. Didn't know if it would take, but it's ok to check it out. When she was on my lap I explained to her, talking like I would to a 3 year old child, which seemed to me about their human equivalent conceptually at the time. I told her that when they pounce on her, "roll over on your back and rip their guts out with your back claws. They'll quit in a hurry." I thought I was just talking to hear my head roar. Next time Caterpillar jumped on her, Tapo rolled onto her back and started kicking at Caterpillar's belly with her back feet, and Caterpillar found something else she'd rather do, like get the hell off this cat that went berserk.

It sent TarBaby on his way a number of times too. Before very long, they were pouncing on Tapo less. Even now, when they hardly ever do it, something will come over Caterpillar. She takes a bead on Tapo's eyes and tells her whatever it is she says, girl talk, I'm gonna splatter your guts all over that wall. Tapo's ears fold back, she moves her head closer to the floor, looks up at Caterpillar showing rattlesnake fangs, green laser beams shooting out of her eyes straight into Caterpillar's that say, you touch me, I'll make hamburger of your face and feed it to the dog. Of course, she doesn't. When Caterpillar reaches out a paw in slow motion to touch her, Tapo crouches down further to the floor and hisses like a poison-spitting reptile with big fangs, nightmare snake. Caterpillar laughs.

Tapo will be inside the cage of a wooden chair's legs and make a dash for another room after Caterpillar touches her. That's what Caterpillar wants her to do. And Caterpillar follows, her nose about 2 inches behind the tip of Tapo's tail pointed straight back. There's no tight space she can squeeze through that Caterpillar can't get through as well. Tapo goes to the smallest cubbyhole she knows in the farthest corner, Caterpillar right there in her face. They growl, hiss, growl, Caterpillar attacks Tapo and it's on, caterwauling that would make a soundtrack for a scene in an animated film of demons fighting in hell. No wonder cats had a bad name in medieval times when superstition was the same as fact.

I make it a practice to stay out of their tussles. I don't know what they're doing. They do. They're cats. I don't know how they think. I don't impose human rational mind on them, because they have no way to grasp it. It's the same as nothing. I let them lead the way. Sometimes, when I feel like Tapo has had enough and I see Caterpillar start backing Tapo into the corner under the chair legs, I watch. When Caterpillar starts showing intent to take this further than mental intimidation, I've called to her gently appealing on Tapo behalf, Caterpillar, let Tapo rest.

Every time, without hesitation, Caterpillar puts her slow forward motion into equally slow reverse motion, stepping backwards, one slow step at a time, eyes on Tapo in case she takes the sign of retreat for an opportunity to attack. Caterpillar backs up, backs up until she's satisfied Tapo can't get to her before she can turn around, she'll turn and walk slowly away, head high, I'm Caterpillar the Great and don't you forget it, pussy. Bullying is what it is. I expect it goes all the way back to lady bugs. Big birds pick on smaller birds. Big dogs dominate smaller dogs. Big kids pick on little kids. Big corporations put smaller businesses out of business. It's evidently something in consciousness that goes with living in this world in a body of any sort. Big'n rules.

Caterpillar and TarBaby have learned over time it does not please me that they like to pounce on Tapo and make her mad. They like to please me, so they only do it when the impulse is so strong they gotta do it anyway. Go to confession later. I let those times go by, because I don't want to mess with their circuits in a control way. This is their catness, totally their catness. It's what cats do. They don't hurt each other. I have seen TarBaby and Tapo run straight to Caterpillar out in the woods, a bee line and not even a split second pause for thought, when Caterpillar came face to face with a bobcat kitten and let out a squawl, sitting up on her back feet like a groundhog, arms high with 10 talons slashing the air. Caterpillar Buzzsaw. The bobcat was gone in a flash.

TarBaby and Tapo gathered round Caterpillar in support. The three of them stood and looked in the direction the cat ran. I doubt the cat meant harm to Caterpillar. Probably curious and wanted to say hi, scaring the fire out of her. The cats do care about each other. Seeing them go to Caterpillar's defense, not knowing anything about what she was facing, no hesitation, at her side in the snap of a finger, told me they're closer than I believed they were.

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