I was sitting with Buddy last night (okay, we were both asleep on the couch) and as I petted him, I thought to myself ‘man, his fur is soft!’. And that’s interesting.
In case I haven’t talked much about his backstory before, I had another cat before him. Annie, a passive-aggressive though sweet tyrant, was the incumbent cat. She was older, around 15 or so. Her favorite activities were eating, drinking purified water, and sleeping or sitting in the doggie bed I bought for her a couple years before. She was a nervous thing and distinctly did NOT like other cats.
He would sneak in, grab a mouthful of food before Annie or I caught him, and bolt back out.
YES, she would go out sometimes too. She never left the patio. But if she didn’t get her 5 minutes of outside time daily, she’d be a little terror the rest of the day. Her outside time consisted of rolling in the dirt (which was like a chinchilla dusting itself), “making water,” and then rushing back in, looking slightly guilty and apologetic.
Moving on, I didn’t know Buddy then; he was just an annoying cat that scared my sweet little tyrant and ate her food. So I’d chase him away.
Sometimes they’d stand nose-to-nose at the back door, not doing anything just stare at each other, sometimes chattering at each other with the little short mewls cats do. Other times, he’d try to come in, chattering as before and she’d greet him with a quick, short (left-pawed) smack on the nose.
Aside: ever notice all cats are left-pawed?
So to prevent him from retaliating, I chased him off. He continued sneaking in and getting at her food and bolting – and I mean fast – out as soon as she or I stirred.
Fast-forward a bit and Annie gets sick. Very sick. I alluded to this before but without details. She simply stopped eating. That in and of itself was a major event, because feeding time was her favorite time of the day. Then she stopped drinking. And it was summertime, with temperatures in the low to mid 90s. Obviously something was wrong. The vet eventually ruled out the lesser (but still expensive) illnesses. More tests led him to say he thought it was cancer. He recommended putting her down. That was July, 2014.
I still miss her.
The next few days I was both sad and empty. I wandered around the backyard and saw him sleeping in the herb garden. He looked up at me and started to bolt. “Hey, calm down Buddy [yes, that’s how he got his name], I won’t hurt you. C’mere.” He cautiously walked towards me, probably remembering that I’d chased him off and remembering others who had done the same (and probably worse), and sniffed my hand. I stroked him, he pawed at me, and that pretty much was the start of everything that’s since followed.
But after I petted him, my hand itched. It itched every time I petted him. His coat was pretty rough feeling too, not at all smooth. Every time I finished petting him, I’d go inside and wash my hands before doing anything else, even before using the bathroom.
The itching was that bad. I never got a rash or anything, but the problems definitely came from petting him.
I would go out after dinner and look for him, he’d cry at me and come trotting over. We’d spend upwards of an hour or so together. I noticed that he started cleaning himself again. Over time, his coat got softer.
Funny what a little attention will do.
He slowly started insinuating himself into the house. First, a chair by the back door. Then the carpet a few feet farther in. Then on my lap on the couch and now . . pretty much wherever he wants.
But, again, that coat. The change. From coarse and dirty to soft. He still looks kind of ratty (he doesn’t like being combed too much), but he’s in far better shape than he was before.
The transformation is amazing.
It’s also pretty interesting.