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Thursday, August 26, 2010


I was about to say Tapo is a peculiar cat, but all cats are peculiar in their own ways. They haven't been to school to train them to believe they must all be alike. A cat doesn't have the least inhibition about being itself unless its humans are mentally erratic. It must be difficult for a cat to figure out human behavior and expectations. They like to be around us. They need us and they know it. Some don't act like it, but we don't always act like we need us either. Tapo spends most of the day, up until dark, sleeping on one of her cushions. Before I'm finished here, she'll be up on the desk to lie down beside my left hand to be nearby. I think she's in her napping place in the bathroom. She doesn't bother mice anymore. She turned 13 last Mother's Day. Mice skittle across the floor in front of her and she follows with her eyes. The play has gone out of her and her interest in catching mice. Since TarBaby has been gone the mice have been moving in. The birds are back, too. TarBaby was a busy cat.
In Tapo's advanced years she has changed since TarBaby's absence. Caterpillar has too. Dogs come around during the day. When dark comes the dogs are gone and they can go outside for whatever they go outside for. They've both stopped catching mice. They don't take an interest in birds, either, for which I'm grateful. They lay about, eat, and lay about. Both require some of my attention every day, but they don't ask a lot. Once a day of being petted and talked to satisfies them. They were raised and protected by a dog their first 6 years. By now they've learned dogs are their enemies. I'm teaching them not to trust any dog, even a friendly dog. When TarBaby was with them they would all run and hide when somebody came to the house. They'd come out after half hour or so to see who it was. Since TarBaby has been gone, Tapo and Caterpillar don't ever come out til company is gone. I don't attempt to make them more responsive to people, because I don't want somebody parking here to visit the waterfalls seeing a nice cat and figuring it's a stray because nobody lives in that abandoned house.
Caterpillar came in from being outside a few hours. She had to stop and adjust her eyes to the light, looking like she'd just woke up. Tapo came out from her bathroom hideaway. She likes the security of the bathroom too. She can run behind the tub/shower stall where nothing can get her but another cat. Tapo is on her way up here for a visit. She's jealous of my hands on the keyboard. I don't think I've made the cats very neurotic. From birth I've allowed them their catness and their own personalities. I regard them with love always and they always want to please me. Once they learn I don't want them on the keyboard, they happily oblige by walking around it on the way to the other side. TarBaby could walk on the edges of the keyboard and never touch a key. Tapo, when I insist on typing while she's wanting my hand on her, will reach over and put a foot on the keys and make a letter like d take a run across the screen. She thinks it's funny. I don't scold her, just remove her foot and put it back off the keyboard. I don't think she knows what it really does when she puts her foot on a letter, except that's where my fingers like to dance, but she knows it messes me up, though not bad. She's a prankster and has taught me a great deal about cat humor. Cats think it's funny to see a cat jump the same as we do.
She was such a wiggly kitten, frantic at feeding time with the bottle, eyes that believed looking at me really hard would get my attention. In the winter, her method of letting me know she wants in, her form of knocking is to stand up with her front feet on the window ledge and stare at me so intensely she pulls my attention like a magnet with her pleading eyes. She's as gentle a cat as I've ever seen without being timid. She was so wiggly a little black kitten with big round blue kitten eyes, I started calling her Tadpole. From the start she didnt' seem to take to it. I went on calling her that a couple weeks, getting the feeling from her she doesn't resonate with that name. I looked for another name that wouldn't be too far away in sound. I took out the d, l and e. I presented it to her as an option, to see if she took to it. Tapo, pronounced like Taco, but with a p, or like Toppo. She liked it. I looked at the sounds of both names. Both syllables of Tadpole have a downward sound to them listened to musically. Tapo is 2 syllables of upward sounds. And it doesn't have any meaning other than her name. She likes to hear me say Tapo. It relaxes her when I speak her name.
She has one white whisker now. No single white hairs in her coat, all black, but the one whisker. It stands out looking like her only whisker. She and Caterpillar get along much better with TarBaby gone. It shocked them to find themselves stuck with each other. They can pass each other going opposite directions without hissing or having a stare down. Tapo is of a better nature than Caterpillar's when it comes to attitudes. Caterpillar still huffs up inside when Tapo is too close, and Tapo appears to get a kick out of pushing Caterpillar's buttons, seeing how much she can take short of having a hissy fit. I love having the cats that were born here, that I knew from their first day, mothered them, and couldn't get rid of any of them. They were my babies. I wanted them to have good lives where they're loved. I couldn't entrust them to anyone. I couldn't part with any of them to give them away. They were never weaned. They've lived the same place all their lives.
We are bonded in that beautiful interspecies friendship, communicating over the lines of love. They're friends loyal as a friend can be. Knowing these cats so well helps me to know other cats. At somebody else's house with a cat, I'll speak to the cat when we make eye contact to let it know I see it, and then pay it no mind. I give it time to adjust to a change in the house routine, another giant, stay back and watch. When the cat is satisfied I'm not a threat, it will walk over and rub my ankle. I let them smell my hand before I rub my scent onto their coats they're vain about. I'll make no effort to touch the cat until it shows me it wants to be touched, have it's head rubbed, neck rubbed. When they let me know they want to be touched, I'll go gently not to frighten. From then on the cat is my friend.

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