Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Does My Cat Think I'm Mommy?

I always thought I knew the answer to that question. My first cat, Gandolf (more about him at some later date) would never ever have thought I was his Mommy. Gandolf didn't need a Mommy. Gandolf was King of the Outdoors and Studly Manhood to boot. I don't know about Seamus, our sweet and short lived kitten, maybe I was Mommy to him and didn't know it at the time. To Finnegan I was more like She Who I Adore And Provider Of Delicious Sustenance. To Brendan I am probably Giver of Comfort Whose Lap I Demand and Deserve. But to Fergus and Silas....I might just be Mommy. It's a bit embarrassing to tell you the truth. I've never thought of myself as the Mommy type.

We had changed vets after Finnegan died. Not because of anything our vet had done. For years and years we had the one vet that everyone in our small town had. He was a rather gruff straightforward type who would never have referred to you as your pet's Mommy. He retired and sold his practice and shortly after the new vets moved in, Finnegan became ill with kidney failure and I had to decide to put him to sleep. It was an intensely traumatic experience for both me and O and four months later, when I adopted Fergus and needed a vet, I realized I couldn't go back to the room Finnegan had died in. Never. So I asked around and everyone recommended a group of vets 45 minutes from our home with a lovely new facility. That's where I took Fergus for his first check up the day after I adopted him and he had the upper respiratory infection. The vet took his temperature, admired his outgoing personality and handed him back to me saying, "Here's Mommy."

And I thought, isn't that silly. I'm not his Mommy. He's a cat.

That first week I couldn't put him down without him peeping and peeping like a baby bird. One time I had to run out to the studio and when I got back he was cowering under the bed. So I just put him in a little basket or in a pocket and took him with me or left him with O when I had to shop. The third night after he had come home with us I was getting worried because he hadn't pooped at all. I had put a tiny litter box in the bedroom so he wouldn't have to go far in the night. Pee was coming out alright but nothing else. I realized he was constipated from the change in diet when I heard him in the litter box making a fuss and peeping in distress. It was night and I was worried. So I thought about what a mother cat would do and I took him into the bathroom and with a warm wet washcloth I rubbed his little butt with it.

Shortly afterwards as I lay in bed, he climbed down the vast mountain of the bed, hopped up into the depths of the litter box and found relief. I knew things came out ok because he climbed back up on the bed peeping with pride and joy. He settled down on my neck with a heartfelt satisfied sigh.

The next time we were at the vets Fergus was having a rather violent double ender and I was afraid that being so tiny, things could go wrong quickly. The vet said he was dehyrdrated and they should give him fluids under the skin and I needed to leave him for at least the day. Six uneasy hours later they called and said I could come get him and when the assistant brought him out he squealed with joy and indignation. The girl said, " Here you are, back to Mommy." I wondered if all the vet's employees were told to refer to the pet's owners as Mommy and Daddy. Had things changed in the pet world since Gandolf's time? Obviously.

Lately it seems to me that Fergus just might think of me as Mommy. He greets me in the cat fashion, rubbing his nose on my face. He sleeps cuddled up close as he would with another cat and he comes running full speed when I call him. Last night after Brendan had claimed my lap Fergus sat on the table next to me making big sad eyes, communicating his great need for me and refusing to settle down on O's perfectly fine lap. I provide food and warmth and control access to the outside world. I am in fact, the source of security, food and comfort. When I remember that Fergus was found along a road side and brought to the shelter at four weeks of age and then given to me at eight weeks it's quite possible that Fergus has decided I am Mommy.

So I could be the Mommy type after all, even if it's just in the eyes of my cat.

Zuleme would like to hear from Caturday readers on this important issue. Please comment with your experience. How do you think your cat sees you? As a meal ticket? A pillow? A big cat? A big lug? Or Mommy and Daddy?


Omnibus Driver said...

Yes, you're mummy. There's no denying it. Just like human children, some of them show their love for you more overtly than others.

Niobium said...

I have no idea how my Beasts see me. I call us Mama and Papa to them, but after I started doing it I regretted it and by that time it was too late, they knew the words.

Certainly two of em see me as the door opener.