Though our cat, Chrystal, is ours, we occasionally share custody with my wife’s dad. This involves packing up Chrystal’s litter box, kitty condo, food, and toys, and shoving our poor cat into her travel cage. She hates the thing. She resists fervently, laments audibly, and sobs continuously once we’ve finally got her in there. We pity her but we need to keep her under our control while we walk nextdoor to her dad’s building.
My wife found an inexpensive harness and leash which she purchased this week, and we’ve been trying to train her to keep in step with us. She’s a stubborn old cat and I’m sure she knows what we’re trying to encourage, but she’s stubborn and resists us by flopping over when we beckon her to follow.
We’ve been training her in the hallway of our apartment building in preparation for when the weather turns warmer and we can take her outside. This has worked pretty well these past few days, but last night there was an altercation.
A woman, returning home and opening her door, let her 2 excited dogs out into the hallway while Chrystal accompanied my wife on a walk. Through our closed front door I heard barking, yowling, “Chrystal, NO!”, and some exasperated apologies from both parties. My girls then returned to the apartment and my wife explained that Chrystal was startled and aggressively attached herself to one of the dogs’ bums.
Having been rescued from a shelter and exerting dominance over fellow pets over the past 15 years she’s been in my wife’s family, Chrystal has learned the law of the jungle and is affirmed by the fact that while other pets have come and gone, she remains. This seems to be her tireless attitude. We agreed to watch a friend’s kitten one afternoon and my wife sacrificed a good quantity of skin to keep Chrystal from tearing its mischievous little head off. She had to lock Chrystal in our bedroom for the remainder of the day, and when I saw my wife’s leg when I got home from work that day I scolded Chrystal thoroughly.
So when Chrystal returned to the apartment last night I was disappointed in her. When she came back in she didn’t even wait for her leash to be removed before perching on her kitty condo and turning her head away. I rolled my chair up to her and with a disapproving tone I said her name and exclaimed my reproach. She wouldn’t look at me. I gently but firmly held my finger under her chin and tried to turn her head to look her in the eyes but she proudly resisted. I clicked my tongue and let her be. She then hid for some time and didn’t respond to our calls.
Chrystal is an old girl, 15 or 16 years old, and has lived with humans pretty much all her life. Ordinarily she’s unbelievably sweet and affectionate, sometimes moody or clingy or finnickey. She’s a little vocal, oblivious to TV, is sometimes scared when I play video games with shooting, and she likes it when I sneak her a slice of pepperoni from my pizza. Her eyes never betray her mood, and 9 times out of 10 if you wink at her she’ll wink back.
I love this cat and I’m amazed at what a complex person she is. I don’t hesitate to use the term “person”. She is unique, communicative, and smart. Feeling this way about my pet makes me glad I don’t have to look my hamburger in the eye. It’s weird how reflection on a 60-second occurrence can evoke such philosophical contemplation. Meow.
Check out Chrystal’s web page for more on our kitty.