Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cuddling with cats 2

Speaking of cats hopping on you, one of the special things about my relationship with the late Lionel was his way of climbing up on my chest for a good snuggle. Wearing a shirt and/or a sheet was an important pre-requisite for this type of man-cat bonding. The reason for this might surprise you. Since Lionel was declawed, it wasn't the risk of getting poked and scratched - though having him stand on me could be a little trying, even without claws. I definitely felt better once he lay down, distributing his weight more comfortably. Actually, for some reason Lionel didn't like being in contact with my bare chest. He would only "hop on Pop" when I had a shirt or sheet on. Pulling a sheet over my chest was a way of inviting him aboard; pulling it off was definitely a deterrent.

I gather this is true for cats in general, because Tyrone has recently begun crawling onto my chest more often - but never my bare chest. He never did this at all until about a year ago. Even since then, he rarely climbed onto my chest - until Lionel died. Now he seems determined to climb up into my arms every time I sit down in the living room. It's very surprising, very nice - and very inconsistent with the Tyrone I have known all these years. It's like he's been saving all these cuddlies up until Lionel was out of the way. Like he saw Lionel doing it and thought it looked great, but held back because it was Lionel's turf. Until now.

I have made another surprising observation since Lionel went. Until recently, whenever I scooped the two litter boxes, I found them about equally full of cat dirt. I had always assumed both cats used both litter boxes about equally. Over the past several weeks or months, I noticed that one of the litter boxes tended to be more heavily soiled than the other. Since Lionel died, I have left both litter boxes where they were for Tyrone to use, and set up a third one in the bedroom for Sinead. But when I scoop the boxes in the kitchen, I consistently find that only one of them has been used - always the same one.

What this tells me is that Lionel and Tyrone probably never shared the same litter box. The one that has been used since Lionel died has always been Tyrone's personal toilet; the one that stands unused was for Lionel's use only. I never realized how territorial they were, even over two identical boxes of clay that have stood side-by-side for five years. Even now, days after Lionel stopped being around, Tyrone respects the boundary.

It also tells me things were failing inside Lionel's body long before I noticed that lump on his side. Since his litter box was getting less custom for some time, apparently something wasn't working right in the pee and/or poop department of his body. The poor mite was very unwell!

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