Tim is a cat, but he can talk. He talks often to us. I don’t know why I don’t blog about him more often except that he’s a rather private person – er, cat, and doesn’t enjoy having details about his personal habits splayed about the internet. He has hinted that he doesn’t approve of my blogging on the the grounds that it isn’t respectable, but I persist. I’m not going to allow myself to be unduly influenced by a mere pet.
Tim has been with us for over 11 years, longer than most of our children. He came to us as a scraggly young cat, half-grown and sadly unsocialized. No, he was not homeschooled. That’s a myth. Homeschoolers tend to be far better socialized than kittens raised in institutional settings. He was just shy and unused to human attention and company, and to be quite frank we only allowed him to live with us out of pity at first. We were pressured into the arrangement, and I’m sure it made him feel awkward about being in our home.
He was too shy to tell us his name, so we took to calling him Tim after a redheaded friend whom he resembled. I was great with child at the time and if our child turned out to be a redheaded daughter, our redheaded friend Tim was jokingly pressuring us to name the poor babe after him. We thought the cat was a girl, so it all made sense at the time. Friend Tim had the newest redheaded Coghlan female named after him, just like he wanted. Cats like to keep their gender traits hidden, you know. Most young human males have been mistaken for a female when they answer the phone, and they are quietly affronted. Cats are quietly triumphant because they have kept you guessing. It’s all part of the game.
Now that he is more comfortable in his skin, Tim tries to convince us that he’s just a dumb animal, but we know better. “Just ignore me,” he purrs at us as we prepare to shower. “I’m only a dumb animal. Why would I care how you look without your fur?” But then he winks, and we snatch the towel up higher as we show him the door.
He shows himself in my own bedroom at the most inopportune moments. If I let him see how self-conscious he makes me, he grins carelessly. “I’m only a beast, and neutered, at that. Why should I care how you humans carry on?” But is it just my imagination, or does he leer as he says it? I don’t quite trust him.
He’s choosy, like most cats. When it comes to food, he only eats dry cat chow. He often expresses interest in our food, but when we offer a taste of meat or milk or other such goods, he is politely disgusted. “Egads! I was only curious about what it was you were putting in your mouth. I didn’t say I wanted to eat the nasty stuff myself!”
The dogs are content – nay, thrilled to drink from the toilet. The water is cool and clear and plentiful. Tim, in contrast, prefers glass over porcelain or plastic if he is forced to drink still water. That is something he will only deign to do late at night, when no one is available to turn on the faucet for him, if we happen to leave a glass of water on the coffee table. Has has asked for white wine glasses, since a red wine glass hardly seems fit for serving water.
He much prefers running water, and isn’t shy about making demands. “Water, please,” he says as we pass his perch on the bathroom vanity. If we don’t hear, he reaches out with claws barely unsheathed and gives a tap. “Pardon me, old chap. Would you be so kind as to turn on the cold tap? A little more – no, too much now. There, that’s good. Just leave it on for me. For heaven’s sake, I’m not going to watch as you do your business. Get on with it and let me drink in peace.”
Tim is a cat, and we like him in spite of it, perhaps because we often fail to notice that he is a cat. I think he forgets too, sometimes.