February 23, 2011
My cat’s name is Denis. He is a six-year-old tabby, and he’s been with us for five years.
We adopted him from an animal shelter. It seemed like he was about a year old at the time. Although he was quite young, he was already fixed, and his back paws were de-clawed.
Denis is my first pet. I hadn’t had any experience taking care of animals before.
Of course, when I was a child, having read so many Astrid Lindgren books, and I began pestering my parents to get us a pet; a dog if not a cat. Unfortunately for me, all my plans at getting an animal companion for my adventures had failed. I can imagine their thought process now; how they could see that they’d be the ones to do most of the heavy-duty caretaking work. As Meryl Streep once said in an interview – family life is when everybody in your house loves your pets, but you are the one cleaning up after them.
There is a pet store/animal shelter that we would keep passing by on our walks; sometimes popping in to meet and pet the poor abandoned animals.
I wasn’t planning on adopting anyone on the day my daughter and I visited that place for yet another time. However, what happened was love at first sight. The very feeling they sing about in all the songs, that makes you abandon all reason. And so we picked up Denis.
The most surprising and significant thing of all was that my husband really approved of our new friend. He was brave when he heard the news; with a big of sadness (because, when he was a boy, he had a cat who fell from the balcony). Then he uttered a phrase that I didn’t quite understand at the time – “This is going to be your cat”. And so Denis became a member of our family.
Until we brought him home, he behaved perfectly. He rubbed against our legs and hands, as if to say “You’re not going to have any problems with me. I’m just a source of endless joy and delight.”
And then, as soon as we settled the formalities, and got ready to place him into the cat transporter, he turned so ferocious that it took my husband, my daughter, and two strong fellows who worked there to get him to cooperate.
The first few days in his new home, Denis had a hard time adjusting; he was very shy around us, and then he jumped up on the dinner table, stole two crackers, and ran off to chew on them loudly under the bed. And please don’t think that his food dish was empty at the time.
Pretty soon after we got him, my allergies started acting up. The tests showed that the cat might be the reason. So began my ordeal. I couldn’t breathe without the pills, but the thought of giving up Denis didn’t even enter my mind.
Around that time, Denis was behaving terribly. He would pee on the floor (whilst standing in his litterbox, as if to say “Well, at least I was trying”), yelled and screamed day and night, scratched, bit, and ruined all the furniture. He would occasionally throw up. Then he would refuse his food. And – what was the hardest for us to endure – he would wake us up at night.
To get our attention while we would try to sleep, he would yell behind the bedroom door, jumping up and down, trying to open it. After he’d be let into the room, he would leap onto the bed, and prod us right in the ribs with his paws.
I really didn’t know what to do, and whether I would have the patience to take care of him. His bad behaviour continued for about four months. My husband spent all that time in a half-asleep state (whether he was trying to stay awake during the day, or trying to go to sleep at night), which got him to acquire a coffee addiction.
My birthday came up. When I woke up that morning, my husband and my daughter were waiting with a bouquet of roses for me. And Denis had a little green leaf in his mouth, which had fallen out of the bouquet. He jumped up on the bed, and put it next to my pillow.
We started getting presents from Denis on a regular basis. Everybody got a little surprise from him. My daughter received a huge dragonfly, which she found on the floor in the middle of her room. My husband got a little bird (whom he managed to rescue, and release back into the outside world after it recovered a little).
A little while later still, I’d discovered that Denis and I have the same tastes. We both love French cheeses.
One day, I decided to take a risk and offer him some Stilton. He sniffed it, looked at me in horror, and proudly walked off. This left me wondering if he was really an heir to some magical cat kingdom, who somehow ended up at the shelter by mistake, perhaps after getting banished from his homeland by a rival to the throne. And now he thinks we are here as his servants.
Denis really changed throughout the time. He is no longer wild and neurotic, and he doesn’t drive us crazy in the night. If you were to come over, he would confidently stride out of the bedroom (his favourite place) to meet you, whereas before, he would hide from the guests underneath the bed.
My husband’s mysterious phrase did not come true. Our cat is everybody’s pet. He has a special relationship with each of us. He loves all of us.
The most unbelievable thing of all, though, is that my cat allergies miraculously disappeared. When I was tested for allergies recently, it came out positive for a number of things, but cat fur was not among them.