I haven’t written much about Josie lately. She’s my chubby white cat. She maintains a low profile, and keeps a great deal to herself. That’s mainly through her own choice, though I get the feeling she would be a much more social animal if there were no other cats in the household.
She’s a people-cat. She’s not like Renn. My big boy is a people-cat, too. In fact, I think he would be miserable without people. But he gets along well with other cats, to an extent. He likes Tungsten, bullies Tucker a little and enjoys trading blows with Josie when one or the other is in the nylon tunnel. But Josie doesn’t care for other cats. It may be that she doesn’t dislike them; she simply has no use for them. When they get too close - Tungsten sometimes sniff at her tail in passing - Josie lets out a squeak and hurries away.
She’s my pacifist, is Josie. She prefers to avoid fights and altercations. That doesn’t mean she won’t stand up for herself. The cat-trees, especially the taller one in the sitting room, are her favoured domain, and she likes to have her choice of where to sit on them. She likes the top platforms (the top of the lower tree for watching out the window and the top of the higher for snoozing) but can be found on the middle platform of the taller tree when she wants to peer out the window from the right-hand side. It’s quite interesting how complicated a cat’s habits can become… Anyway, the point of this digression is that my Chubs doesn’t care for other cats taking her places on the cat-trees, or trying to take another position close to hers when she’s already there. Renn seems to be the main culprit in these situations, and punches may be exchanged under certain circumstances. But these are extraordinary events, and for the most part, Josie thinks one should live and let live.
Josie came to live with me three years ago, on Christmas Eve, 2008. If you’ve read any of the articles I’ve published here, you’ve probably heard me mention that Tungsten did not take kindly to this big white interloper in her little kingdom. But that’s past now. In fact, just last week, I woke on a Sunday morning to find all four cats on the bed (one of the reasons I like Sunday mornings); a while later, Tungsten, who doesn’t like Josie’s proximity any more than Josie likes hers, was grooming the white one. And the latter stayed put - for twenty seconds or so. But that’s quite an improvement on past behaviour.
There has been quite a change in my Chubs over the last three years. She’s lost a little weight, for one thing. But it’s her personality that has altered. She’s certainly not a different animal now, and I don’t think ‘friendlier’ is the correct word. She has become more open about showing her feelings, if you will. The time was when an ephemeral brush past against my leg was her principal sign of affection. She liked being petted, but not for long. And she didn’t like a person’s face close to hers.
Now, she ambles over relatively often for a rub on the head. She comes over for no other reason. It’s certainly not with the frequency with which Tucker comes to me for some attention; that’s thirty or forty times an hour, it seems. But Josie will see me in the kitchen and waddle up to me, say ‘hello’ and waddle away again. And she doesn’t even expect food out of it. She even comes to sit on a chair next to mine once in a while as I write at the table.
When I go to her, Josie usually rolls onto her side; when she’s on a cat-tree, she anchors herself with a paw, ready to receive some petting and stroking. She is eager to receive it and purrs audibly during it. Her purr used to be just a silent gurgle in her throat. She retains that, but now expresses herself more strongly. And once in a while, while I’m close to her, talking to her, she’ll sniff my face, which she never used to do.
She’s not a lap-cat, and never will be. But when I am on the couch, with Tungsten on my lap, Renn hard by on my right and Tucker on the couch’s arm to my left, I see Josie watching us. Is she envious? Some animals may be like some people, wanting to be close but not able to bring themselves to that point. I put her on my lap now and then. She purrs and kneads, but doesn’t stay long. She likes it, but it’s just not her thing. So I try to spend time with her on her own terms, which isn’t as easy as providing companionship to a cat who simply flops down beside you while you read a book.
Most nights will find her on the bed with the other cats. Her place is on the near side, against me. If I’m awake when she jumps up, she’ll normally stump up to me to say ‘good night’, have a two- or three-second head-rub, then settle down. She comes and goes during the night, not as settled as Tungsten and the boys.
Josie was about five years old when I adopted her. She’s now eight, probably eight and a half. She still likes to be alone sometimes, but rarely avoids attention when I find her, and comes to me for it more and more. She’ll always be inscrutable in some ways; I will always understand her less than the others, I think. But friendship doesn’t depend on understanding. It’s not born in the brain, or maintained by the mind. It’s an extension of the heart, and Josie’s keeps getting bigger.