Paddy: The cat came to stay

My long haired black cat, Nash, came to me from the streets. I was cautious about taking him in mostly because I was afraid that he belonged to someone else. There is such an animal as an ‘inny-outy’ cat, and I didn’t want to be swiping someone else’s cat.

Nash came in, and initially, he seemed to enjoy the life of ease and comfort, sprawling on a sofa staring suspiciously at an unused kitty condo, ambling out to check his food dish regularly. He was brushed, and petted, and there was a pretty good selection of cat toys to keep him from getting bored. I mean, I’m not a cat or anything, but it seemed like a pretty sweet set up to me.

Tim was doing some work in the basement, and propped a basement window open. Nash became accustomed to coming and going as he pleased. That wasn’t my plan, but the cat seemed to know his own mind, and it seemed unlikely that he would listen to reason. So once again, he became an ‘inny-outy’ cat.

As autumn went on, the intervals between his visits became longer and longer. He became increasingly critical of his food. He stayed inside for shorter periods of time. After a couple weeks, he simply stopped coming home. We’d see him out and about, but he appeared to have lost all interest in being my cat. I blame it on the call of the wild.

Now this left me in a pickle. I did not want to replace him, at least not before the cold weather. What if he came back? I’d had a hard enough time convincing Tim to co-own one cat. If I got another cat and Nash came back, Tim would buck a major fit at owning two of them.

So for a couple months a kitty condo sat in the library with a vacancy sign, cat toys were artfully arranged in small quiet corners, and in the kitchen, a place mat with two china bowls in a gilt edged pussy willow pattern sat forlornly empty. When Cara came home at Thanksgiving, she said, “You know, you’ve got everything. You just need the cat” and I said, “Yeah. I know.”

It was about that time that I figured that Nash was gone for good. Maybe it WAS time to pick a cat, and perhaps I’d be better off without a feral cat. It was about that time that a friend’s daughter-in-law posted two kittens on facebook, ginger cats, unbelievably small, fetchingly wide-eyed, newly weaned from their bottle feedings. They needed homes.

Nash was a quiet cat. He played, vigorously, always at 3 AM or so, as if trying to cover up that he had a playful streak at all. He allowed himself to be petted, and he curled up beside you on the couch, and he let you know, insistently, when the food dish needed attention. We liked having him around. Our normal response to Nash was to give him a pet as he wound around my legs. He frequently heard he was a good cat.

A kitten is a different critter, however. They are forever skittering sideways about something, jumping, leaping, rolling balls of spastic energy. Legs are for climbing, socked feet are God-created specifically for their entertainment. Kittens are just comical, with a permanent look of quizzical surprise. I am forever unhooking him from a leg, or shaking him off a foot, and when I talk, it is in high-pitched tones with lots of hyperbole and baby talk. You find yourself saying ridiculous things like “Get off the shower curtain” in the same breath as “You are so stinking cute”

We named him Paddington Paw-cat, Paddy Paws for short. He eats voraciously out of the gilt edged china dishes with a pussy willow pattern. The kitty condo now has a no-vacancy sign. Those toys seldom sit in dark corners anymore, being stalked and pounced upon, batted from one end of the house to the other. They have also been joined by several new toys and a laser light.

Paddy is a social creature. He adores company. He views William as another kitten, albeit a larger and strangely hairless one. A jewelry making class meets in the living room every week, and the participants all love cats. Lucky thing. He loves them and their sparkly beads too. A recent guest gushed, “I want one exactly like him” a line of discussion that was shut down immediately by saying, “As a matter of fact, he has a brother” When Dylan and Brittani came home for Christmas, they were so besotted that they offered to swap their antisocial cat for ours on the spot.

He’s a charmer alright. The only one who seemed to be immune to him was Tim. Initially, the house rang with the cry of: “Hey! You want to do something with Yo-yo here?” That furry bundle of cuteness would stare forlornly at Tim as he was carried out of the room, not understanding where he had failed. If Tim headed off to another room, Paddy was right behind him. He enjoys supervising showers, and Tim does not get a pass on this either. But Tim remained stubbornly unswayed for several weeks.

Last week, I walked in to the living room to catch Tim on the floor playing with the cat and William both. A couple days later, Tim was curled up In a chair with his Christmas novel. Paddy was asleep on his knee and Tim absentmindedly rested his hand on him as he read.

That cat is ridiculously cute, and so darn sweet, he makes your teeth hurt to look at him. His superpowers render everyone he meets incapable of resisting his charms. I’d like to figure out what it the magic is. I think that it might be the secret to world peace.