I don’t know if Tungsten fears nothing or is simply apathetic about most things. These two qualities are sometimes the same, I suspect. My orange cat is not curious about things, as is my big boy, Renn, so her disinclination to run and hide has nothing to do with interest. Loud noises will not shake Tungsten from a restful pose, nor will the dropping of an object interrupt a snooze. She’s not deaf, so I can’t attribute her calm to an inability to hear anything. She is just not disturbed by many things.
She has stood her ground against the biggest and fiercest foster-cats. When Luther was living with us and battled my perma-cats, he found that the tiny terror did not give an inch. Luther, a solidly-built, young and strong male, has no malice in him, and assaulted other cats in an almost playful manner, though screams and fur flew freely. Tungsten did not see enjoyment in the activity, though, and fought with the ferocity of a trapped lynx. Years ago, when I had another foster-cat, Wixie, there was less fighting but as much confrontation. Wixie, too, is a sweetie, a gentle cat who simply wished to become top-cat. This was opposed by Tungsten, who, as she would later with Luther, did not back down. Wixie was twice Tungsten’s size and thrice her weight.
Vacuum cleaners are a bain of a cat’s life. They are noisy, relentless and have a sucking ability that animals don’t understand - similar to the incomprehension many humans experience when the sucking ability inexplicably ceases. Tucker fears the machine, and Renn hurries away to escape it. Josie climbs a cat-tree. Only Tungsten remains. In fact, she has recently becomes emboldened enough to sniff at a running vacuum cleaner nozzle. I ran the fabric cleaning applicator over her fur, and instead of being uncomfortable, she liked it, noise and all. Each of these pictures was taken while the cleaning machine was running, some while I was holding it, which accounts for the blur.
Just yesterday, I caught my foot in the nylon tunnel and accidentally sent it hurtling across the sitting room into the drinking fountain. Water splashed, the metal fountain clanged; Renn leaped from the cat-bed and disappeared, Tucker shot down the basement stairs probably without touching a step, and Josie ran into the bedroom. What was Tungsten’s reaction? “Oh, the cat-bed’s free. Neat.” And she leisurely strode over to the bed and lie down in it, next to the wreckage of the nylon tunnel.
I can’t believe that her dauntless attitude is the result of a life spent struggling for survival before she came to me. As ferocious as she may be, she is too small to have won many combats against determined enemies. Besides, she’s too gentle to have ever been a fighter. Perhaps it comes from intelligence, a brain that calmly and quickly evaluates any situation and reckons the low danger each presents. Her nerves are steel wires, and will not let her jump or start at any sudden sound.
I think Tungsten is just a brave little animal who isn’t afraid of much. I of course try to limit what could scare any of my beasts, and to provide them with a safe home, but I’ve observed that being a cat often means a life of concern and worry. Everything seems alarming to some of them. But not to Tungsten. To her, the world is filled with things unworthy of her attention; she disdains those dangers that frighten others; an easy-going cat without many concerns, one who knows her capabilities and lives within them. Tiny, orange and fearless.