Despite the conclusion of my eulogy for CJ the Labradane, when Lora and I came around to adopt another pet, we went for a change of pace, to put it mildly.
That’s a bit of an overstatement. There are a lot of aspects of the story of both CJ and Abbey* that are the same. They both came from rougher-than-necessary backgrounds, before lucking into the care of people who—understandably—didn’t have the resources to care for one more pet. Knowing we had more than enough room, we opened up the doors of Party Now, Apocalypse Later Industries HQ to another ball of fur.
The similarities ended there. Instead of a calm and assured dog of some years, we opted instead for a weeks-old kitten. She was mostly ears when we got her, so much so that we (read: I) was worried she was some kind of ear-creature from the planet ear-th**.
To date, Abbey has only displayed three modes of operation: biting, adventure, and sleep.
Don’t let that last one lull you into a false sense of security around our Abbey. We’ve bought her two beds in the five months since we got her, and she has rejected both of them, in favor of sleeping—ahem—between my legs. I’d like to try and blame my lack of sleep in 2016 on Donald Trump, but I think not being able to shift in the night without hearing plaintive meows is a far more likely culprit.
Meals at home have become less a quiet island in the middle of the day and more a prolonged exercise in target practice. Shots from a squirt bottle are the only thing that has any hope of gently dissuading her from jumping from place setting to place setting in hopes of procuring a new straw*** for her collection. Now, before you tell me that a squirt bottle will be an ineffective manner of behavior modification for a cat, let me save you the trouble. She already told us. She loves being squirted. She’s eschewed her water bowl in favor of the hydrations she receives from misbehaving. She’s either a genius, a maniac, or both.
And then there’s the climbing. Abbey The Cat may only have one concrete, cogent thought: I want to be higher than I am right now. In her efforts to elevate, she has found she gets a great reaction from Lora and I when she jumps up on and clings to the edge of any TV in the house.
For all the consternation this causes we feeble humans, I’ve sort of come to admire her bold efforts. Most animals—humans included—with any sense of self preservation would panic when they find themselves on a surface that is inherently unstable, and not wide enough to cover their body mass. Our Abbey, however, looks up. Maybe she’s aware that she made a terrible mistake climbing on that particular object, but the only way to rectify the situation is to, somehow, go higher.
There’s some sort of lesson there: When things seem to have reached their maximum scariest, don’t look for the solid ground of the past. Search for something even scarier. That, and if you can get away with it, sleep for twelve hours each day.
One imagines that Abbey will have more wisdom to share with the rest of us, and I’ll keep you posted as she decides to reveal them. In the meantime, I’ll wait patiently for her to grow out of the worst instincts of her kitten period…
She will grow out of them, right?
*If you’re not naming pets after characters from The West Wing, you might not be doing it right. Just ask Lin-Manuel Miranda.
**What the hell has happened to me, writing a line like that?
***This little one loves straws. She loves straws more than a creature should love anything procured from Sonic.