Ever have one of those moments when you’re making loud cat sounds with your toddler and you turn around and see the cat, watching you quietly? Awkward.
I encourage silliness as a way for both of us to blow off steam, and I’m proud of my son’s wacky sense of humor. The cat, however, sees things differently. In fact, he’s not so sure what to make of the two of us, especially when we start dancing around the room, making silly noises. Almost against his better judgment, he finds us fascinating. You know that Monty Python sketch where they have to hire a company called Confuse-A-Cat Ltd. to get their bored cat out of a rut? No danger of that in this household.
Since my son was born, nearly three years ago, I’ve had a complicated relationship with our cat. At first, bringing home a newborn who was — let’s face it — smaller than the cat, I regarded him suspiciously. In those days, he seemed more of a threat than a companion. Confined to bed rest in the days after giving birth, I kept a water bottle next to the bed, in case the cat should overstep his bounds and try to snuggle with the sleeping baby.
Although I’ve been a cat lover since I remember, my feelings towards the cat took a long time to return to anything resembling normal. Only about a year ago, when my son was finally big enough and independent enough to be able to defend himself against a (admittedly rather smallish) cat, did I finally come to a realization that the cat was… cute! Yes, cute and fluffy and soft and dying for attention. He’d had just as difficult a time with “Baby Boot Camp” as I had. Perhaps harder, since cats are so sensitive.
These days, we have settled into a routine, of sorts. In the morning, my toddler wakes me up: “Mommy, it’s day.” Immediately, with a happy mew-purr, our kitty, Luke, is by my side, demanding morning pets. My son and I pet him together — my son a little clumsily but as gently as he can muster. Luke tolerates it, even seems to like it, and lately there’s even a playful kittenish spirit about him. He’s been very understanding about the fact that my son has claimed his first precious toy — a little blue plush cow — because he knows I always defend him when he bats around my son’s plush baseball.
The two boys — kitty and human — have their moments, of course. My son has been known to yell, “No, Luke!” because the cat had the audacity to rub his kitty face on my son’s book. And Luke, for his part, occasionally tests us both: padding nonchalantly over papers I’m sorting, or playing “tag” just out of reach of my son’s grasp.
Yet, I’d like to think that Luke is teaching us both some valuable lessons: my son is learning to respect and care for a living creature, and I am learning how to perplex and amuse a cat.