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Friday, April 22, 2011


caterpillar doin all right

Since Caterpillar's brother and sister have gone to be with Jesus, we're alone together getting to know each other in new ways. Her Maine Coon nature could not adjust to having two other cats around. They were a nuisance to her. She stayed in a back room in a secluded corner much of the time. She came to me for petting every 3 or 4 days. TarBaby and Tapo were getting their handling every day. I really never noticed they were in my attention much more than Caterpillar was. She was something of a bitch with the other 2 cats, especially Tapo, the smallest and female, bottom of pecking order. Caterpillar and TarBaby could pounce on her and start a fight at will, which they did, and she couldn't pounce back. It's frustrating at the bottom of the pecking order. Tapo tended to stay away from Caterpillar, actually did not like her. I feel strongly that when TarBaby died and left Tapo, she went soon after, I've become convinced, to get away from Caterpillar.

I have never wondered which one would be the one I'd live with after the others were gone. They were born the same morning, Mother's day 1997, and have lived with me since birth. By the time they were old enough to find homes for, I wasn't even going to take a chance one of my babies might be mistreated somewhere along in its life. The only way I could be assured they would not be mistreated was to keep them here. By then I already loved them so much I couldn't let them go, bottle feeding them for weeks, watching them grow, learn to walk, learn to run. At the beginning they were like 3 bodies with one soul. They began to individuate as their experiences increased and their individual natures came into play one step at a time. I saw them gradually become themselves as cats. Cats tend to be solitary creatures and don't want other cats around. When it came time for them to establish their pecking order, they fought sometimes fiercely.

Their play taught them how to use their claws and teeth in play and at war. Caterpillar became the dominant one right away. Her Maine Coon nature makes her go all out in a fight at the very start. Play with Caterpillar amounted to a serious fight in an instant. She'd go completely outside her mind. Her mind wasn't anywhere near when she fought. Same when she looks at birds through the window. She goes into an unconscious zone, her lips twitch, making her whiskers wiggle up and down, and she makes a squeaking sound several times. TarBaby and Tapo walked as far around Caterpillar as furnitue allowed. They had little to do with her, but to watch her go by out the corner of the eye to see if she's going to suddenly pounce. I always had them eat out of the same bowl. Fed them in a rectangular casserole bowl, a trough, wanting them to eat together because they are family. They never fought at the trough, and rarely growled, unless Caterpillar was in an especially rotten mood.

One day when they were perhaps 3 or 4 years old, I was at the kitchen sink opening a can of tuna for them, their occasional treat. TarBaby and Caterpillar jumped onto the table where I fed them. Aster the dog lived here then and any food at floor level was hers. The 2 cats started walking in a circle, like the yin-yang, one black, one tones of gray, walking around and around, getting more excited as they circled. The sound of the can opener on the can excited them. It put me in a hurry, because I knew about the time TarBaby touched Caterpillar it would be on. TarBaby touched Caterpillar and instantly she had him down on his back boxing him. Instead of fighting back, which TarBaby was quite capable of doing, he let her box his head with her big paws.

They were howling like an outdoor cat fight and Tapo from the other room came running into the kitchen, made a flying squirrel big air leap and landed on Caterpillar's back with all four feet. Caterpillar went into a hissing fit, wiggled out from under Tapo. TarBaby wrestled his way out of there the moment she let go. Caterpillar spun 180 degrees around hissing, in another world. She looked around a moment and shook her head so fast her ears buzzed like hummingbird wings, then looked around getting her bearings on where she was. Tapo stayed on the table laughing. It was the funniest trick I ever saw her pull when it comes to making a cat jump. It seemed to be her way of getting back at Caterpillar for pouncing on her so much. Scaring Caterpillar so bad she lost all sense of what happened, Tapo got away with her jests. Caterpillar didn't seem to have any recollection of what sent her into that zone. The only reason Caterpillar didn't jump straight up was Tapo was on top of her. It was like Caterpillar had no recollection of what just happened. She flipped into another zone and when she came back she was on the table and I was serving yummy tuna.

For a couple weeks after Tapo died, Caterpillar seemed glad she was gone. Then I saw and felt a sorrow come into her that she lived with for a few weeks. I comforted her and she comforted me. We got through losing TarBaby and Tapo together. I began to see after awhile that Caterpillar and I barely know each other. Of course, she knows me inside out, it was I who knew her so little. We didn't know how to communicate. Gradually, we worked out getting our meaning across. I was going to say without language, but I have language and she knows an awful lot of words I use talking with her. Plus, I'm learning she understands what I'm saying when I tell her something in words like talking to somebody who understands. I've learned from several experiences that she understands me now. She has made a connection with my mind we didn't have before. I had that with TarBaby and Tapo. I feel like it's Caterpillar's turn now to communicate with me by however they do it, a kind of telepathy I've come to suspect strongly I've had with all my pets, even before I became aware of it.

Wednesday I took her to the Twin Oaks vet to take care of a skin problem she's had several years. Little scab-like things on her back from the middle of her back to the tail. I figured they had something to do with fleas, but when I kept her flealess they were still there. Dr Thompkins explained to me about steroids, how they've found a steroid shot helps relieve her. Dr found "flea dirt" meaning she does have fleas. Of course. Put some Revolution one spot flea remover on her. While Caterpillar was getting her shot I was thinking how funny it is, now she'll never be able to play pro baseball, ride a bicycle in the tour de France, and they may even write about her in National Enquirer. CATERPILLAR ON STEROIDS. Her career possibilities ruined before they started. She'll have to accept her fate as my cat and go on laying about the house, which she doesn't seem to mind too much. She loves getting all my attention. I'm happy to give it to her. She used to go about with an attitude like she was in charge and no cat better get in her way. That attitude is gone. I've discovered the Caterpillar behind the attitude that was something of a mask, her top of the totem pole face. She has new eyes.  


1 comment:

  1. I have never wondered which one would be the one I'd live with after the others were gone. They were born the same morning, Mother's day 1997, and have lived with me since birth.