How old is Tungsten, really?
The truth is that I don’t know. When she was rescued, it was estimated that she was six years old. The rescue group with which I volunteer had rented a building at the time in which many of their cats resided, and Tungsten was deposited on its doorstep. She was a foundling, without any information provided for her. It was a veterinarian who suggested her age, and that, I believe, was based largely on the condition of her teeth. Her exact age is unknown, and its estimation is an educated guess.
She has always acted mature. The rescue group believed she had lived with an old woman who had, perhaps, passed away. Tungsten’s demeanour was gentle, and sad. In the years that she has been with me, I’ve come to know her well. She is an intelligent animal, who is largely indifferent to anything that doesn’t matter, and contemplative toward that which does.
Hasty decisions are not for Tungsten. She has watched foster-cats come and go (and two who came but did not go) and tolerates their presence, if it’s at a distance. She weighs situations and acts accordingly. It is an adult’s attitude. This contrasts to Tucker, for instance, who is eight years of age and acts like an eight year old - and eight year old human.
She is the top-cat of the household, reserved, not in the way Josie is, staying physically apart from the other cats, but simply because she isn’t quite like the younger ones, and never has been. I have a mechanical game called ‘Undercover Mouse’, which consists of a wand on a nub that revolves around a circular motor. The wand is largely hidden by a sheet. The cats chase the wand. Tucker, predictably, gets the most enjoyment out of it. Renn, just as predictably, studies the toy and its motions. Josie will watch with interest. Tungsten is mostly uninvolved. She will jump on the circular sheet, stopping the revolving wand, after which she seems to think the game a silly one. If she were playing ‘jacks’, she’d simply throw the ball hard enough to give her time to pick up all the jacks at once. It’s an adult’s decision, not a child’s.
Tungsten does have fun. She shoots around the house from time to time, rocketing faster than any of the others. She will periodically grab at Josie, as if showing her who the boss is. She will wrestle with a string-toy. But, usually it seems, games are something childish to her, something to indulge in once in a while, in a rare frivolous mood, but which are, for the most part, for other cats.
When I think about Tungsten’s age, I remember a scene from the Frank Capra movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. James Stewart’s character, George, is sitting with his father, discussing Stewart’s younger brother, Harry, who is attending his high school graduation that evening. The boy is ebullient and raucous in a good-natured way; Stewart asks if he had been like that, and his father affectionately replies, “You were born forty years old, George.” That’s how I feel about Tungsten.
Now, she has age spots, something to which orange cats are prone, and her face is starting to reflect extra years. She is slowing down a little, and I’m beginning to notice that she doesn’t like jumping high, which she used to do as easily as walking. I will be taking her to the veterinarian for a check-up in a couple of weeks, because she is at a certain age (or uncertain, since I cannot pinpoint that age). But she’s not too old for my lap, nor too old for purring. She still fits into my hand when we sleep at night and greets me at the door when I come home. She jumps onto my shoulders and pushes her fuzzy head against my face.
Any age at which she does those things is young to me.