… all animals are divided into one of 14 categories:
- Those that belong to the emperor
- Embalmed ones
- Those that are trained
- Suckling pigs
- Mermaids (or Sirens)
- Fabulous ones
- Stray dogs
-Those that are included in this classification
- Those that tremble as if they were mad
- Innumerable ones
- Those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush
- Et cetera
- Those that have just broken the flower vase
- Those that, at a distance, resemble flies
J. L. Borges, Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge
I do not like kittens. It’s not that I have a dislike for them but I don’t get that well-studied feeling of cuteness overload when I see kittens in real life or on pictures. I love mature cats. So when a new management of the complex where we lived changed the rules allowing small pets, on our trip to the shelter we intended to offer our home to a 1-2 year old cat. The only other requirement I had at the time was that it had to be a male cat.
All cats we saw that day were either much older or females. But I think we looked like people who were seriously going to get a cat so shelter workers kept showing us all the cats they had there not paying attention to my insistent “young but adult male cat.” And then we saw Him.
Four months old, playful and not in the least shy kitten had no objections to us picking him up and petting. And he was white and orange and resembled a little our first cat (see Part I: Found and Lost). And even his name on the cage’s label – Rusty – was reminiscent of that first cat’s name Rizhik (not surprisingly since words used in both languages were intended to describe the exterior). We just couldn’t leave without him.
When we got home, I told Rusty another requirement I had in mind: I would not have a cat who doesn’t like to be petted or sit on my lap. I even threatened to take him back to the shelter if he decides to be too independent. Either he took the warning very seriously or we both just lucked out but whenever I sit down Rusty almost always comes to me.
“Medium hair orange tabby” it says in his official documents. Judging by his look and behavior there was a Maine Coon climbing Rusty’s family tree at some point. And nine out of every twelve months in the year I really want to invite the kind person who thought of that “medium hair” joke. Rusty’s hair is everywhere!
Even though from the beginning we were feeding him cat food, he doesn’t discriminate: cat food, human food – food is food – and it never stays in his bowl for longer than 2-3 minutes. And he never stops foraging around hoping to find anything edible we left unattended. Rusty is so strongly food-motivated that he would do tricks for treats: “Sit“, “(another) Paw!“, “Down“, “Up“, “Jump“. Also we suspect that eating for him is a social interaction as well: both my vSO and I love fruits and Rusty also developed taste for some of them. He loves (as in actually tries to pry them from my hands) oranges, peaches and apricots.
Before we got Rusty, my vSO and I had two favorite Dunoon mugs (different shapes but both with cats on them). For years, unless we had guests over, we would drink everything only from those mugs. While I managed to train Rusty in many areas (for example, not to wake us up in the morning) there are rules that he refuses to follow. Rusty knows that he’s not allowed to be on counters and tables but every time he hopes to find there something to eat or wants to annoy us because he thinks we’re withholding food beyond the allowed schedule, he keeps jumping to where he’s not supposed to be and then plays “dead weight” when we try to remove him. My favorite mug has become a casualty in one of those battles. Since I couldn’t replace it (retired pattern) my vSO out of solidarity (and not to lose it as well, I guess) retired his mug into a cupboard.
Same as my other favorite cat Garfield (see Part II: Grin without a Cat), Rusty doesn’t like spiders. He hunts them and eats them – if he can get to them and if they are not too yucky. Otherwise he attracts our attention to them meowing loudly and gets a treat for each spider. Rusty also gets a treat for each “Awww…” (see Part III: Love from the First ‘Awww…’) or other expression of admiration from my readers for his appearances in my perfume pictures.
Since the age they told us when we adopted Rusty was approximate, we made a decision that he would be our “Christmas cat” and we celebrate his birthday on Christmas Eve. This year he turned five. As a birthday gift he got a new cat bed. I was afraid he wouldn’t like it and had an elaborate plan of pretending it was something I brought for myself to sit on… I didn’t get a chance to play it out: Rusty loved it immediately and he slept in it through almost the whole day.
My vSO found a back-up for his mug under the Christmas tree so his favorite mug came back from the retirement. And this concludes the Orange Cats in My Life series. In January I will go back to my kind of perfume-related posts with Year 2013 Entertaining Statistics.
Happy New Year to all my friends and readers!
Images: my own