Thursday, June 19, 2008

Love Pig, Lap Cat

Until yesterday, I've never had a lap cat.

I've shared living space with lots of cats and dogs in my time. I have had lap dogs (whether I wanted them or not): dogs that would willingly climb on top of my legs while I was sitting in a chair, because they enjoyed the closeness and a nice rub-down. I have had more or less dog-like cats, who came when called, obeyed commands, and came running to see me when I got home. In my last six years of uninterrupted catsmanship, I have had two cats who regularly perched on my chest while I was lying down; the third cat (Tyrone) only occasionally does so.

Tyrone, unlike Sinead, will sometimes let me pick him up and hold him in my arms (usually belly-up, so I can rub under his chin). Sinead has only ever let me do this once without immediately struggling (and usually scracthing) to get away; and that only lasted half a minute before I was close enough to the couch to let her jump down without a foul on either side. I'm still trying to train her to be a little more tractable, though there may not be any point to this; she is such a "love pig" that I can almost count on her to cuddle with me every time I lie down to sleep or to read. Plus, she often approaches me while I am working at my desk, or playing the piano, or walking around the apartment, and meows for attention. So it's not as if she doesn't want to cuddle.

Yesterday, however, the "love pig" surprised me. Considering that Tyrone is the cat who lets me pick me up, it's doubly surprising that Sinead was the one who made herself comfortable on my lap. This goes against all precedent. I had long since given up trying to obtain a lap cat by picking the animal up and putting it on my lap. I recognized that it was going to happen spontaneously if ever. But I wasn't really expecting it to happen at all.

Here's how it came about. I was spending the day at my desk (a project for work, honest). Next to my chair is the glider footrest that goes with the glider rocker that pretty much belongs to the cats. I put the footrest next to my desk chair so the cats can sit by me while I work without hopping onto the desk itself. This arrangement has done a lot to break the cats of their bad habit of trespassing on my desk. (I also hate it when Tyrone jumps on my dresser or on the kitchen counter; we're still working on those behaviors.) The cats were pretty much tag-teaming me. One was always guarding me on this footrest while the other went about its business elsewhere. Both cats occasionally used this as a vantage point for demanding attention, sometimes by a simple vocalization, sometimes by putting their front paws either on my leg or on the corner of the desk. I rewarded their affection each time with a brief rubdown.

Sinead was so delighted with the rubdown that she leaned farther and farther over my lap, hesitating only to remove her back paws from the stool. After a couple of sessions like this, she was finally ready to try standing on my leg with all four paws, but the instability scared her and she jumped back onto the stool. So I pulled back from my desk and crossed my legs, creating a wider, triangular place for her to stretch out. And with just a little enticement, she tried it out - and loved it! She stretched right out over my lap and luxuriated in caresses. She couldn't get enough of that lap. I finally had to push her off because I needed to get back to work. From love pig to lap cat! Wow, Sinead!

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