My husband Allan loves cats, he just never knew it until he moved in with me. Luckily for both of us, he quickly realized that this was high on the list of essential criteria for anyone wanting to join our household. With nine cats and other assorted animals already living there, it was important for him to adjust if he was going to fit in.
He was marked for ownership early in our relationship by Minki, the sometimes irascible, but surprisingly thoughtful matriarch of the cats in the house. After his entrance into the household she began rubbing foreheads with him on a regular basis, which we only learned later is the way cats establish their ownership and dominance of their possessions. She must have known that her razor like claws could hurt him, as she was always careful to wait politely while he put a pillow on his lap before she would climb onto him, with all the dignity inherent in her nature.
Another cat that was quick to mark him out as her person was our Siamese named Thais. I had seen her in the pet shop one day, and something in her small, frail body appealed to me. We went back the next day but couldn’t find her in the window. I was disappointed, thinking she had been sold. Then I heard a strident kitten voice from the closed off section at the back of the pet shop. She must have know that the help had arrived to pick her up. We went into the pet shop and asked if the little Siamese in the window had been sold. They said no, that she was in such bad condition that they had put her out the back, while they decided what they could do with such a seemingly weak and underfed runt.
They gave her to Allan to hold, while I discussed her health problems. She quickly climbed up to his shoulder, cuddled into his face, and started purring in a loud and self satisfied way. Now that he was here she was ready to go home, she seemed to be saying. And to this day, she is still only really happy when on a cushion, cuddled in the curve of his arm, with her head resting on his forearm, and her paw in his. No matter where she is, she only needs to hear the sound of his feet pounding down the stairs like a baby elephant, and she appears as if by magic.
He shows his affection by letting all the cats that will fit perch on every ample and available surface – stomach, lap, head or shoulder – and is careful not to move and disturb them. Or at least that’s what he says when it’s his turn to make the dessert.
He also likes to ensure their freedom from parasites by checking them for ticks and fleas at all possible moments. Actually I think he just likes to hear the sound of the little blood filled bodies “cracking” between his finger nails. It brings out all his latent bloodthirstyness, or primordial instincts and grooming behavior – one or the other.
I’ve enjoyed watching the change in him over the past fifteen years as the cats have tamed him and taught him the proper way to interact with them. It has proved the truism that dogs have masters and cats have slaves.