Friday, November 14, 2014

Tungsten's Game


My oldest cat, Tungsten, has never played much. She used play at string-toys with me, and would zoom through the nylon tunnel when I walked beside it. I’m not sure whether it is age or apathy that is slowing her down these days. It may simply be disdain for my other cats foolish enough to leap and spin and chase things. But there is one activity that the orange one still likes. It’s one that I share with her alone.

When I come home from work, I go to my bedroom to change clothes. Tungsten always follows me. The other beasts will wander about, knowing that it’s dinner-time. Josie and Tucker may pursue each other. Their top-cat, however, comes into the bedroom and gets up on the bed. I spread my arms and shout her name.


Years ago, I would seize her and almost flip her over on the bed, then she’d wrestle and try to nip my hand. Now, she’s too old for such gymnastics. She will sometimes stoop, as if about to roll, but she doesn’t. In fact, she looks like she’s cowering and in fear of receiving blows from my hand. But she’s really just preparing. Periodically, she does flop onto her side - her current version of a tumble. These days, I grab her and gently ease her over. But then, she likes it a little rougher. I rub her fuzzy head until my hand is a blur, massage the sides of her face as though I were trying to use her fur to start a campfire, and finally, rub her boney sides with my fingers, while she claws at the bedspread, trying to stay in place. It looks as if she’s undergoing some painful torture, but when I stop, her little motor is rumbling.


This is often repeated several times. If I think we’re done, I will look at Tungsten. She may stoop, ready to fall over. That means she’s not finished. So we repeat the process. Then at last, I gather her up and take her to the bathroom for a drink of water, and I can feel her skinny frame vibrating.

This is our routine, something we’ve always done, in one form or another. Once in a while, a spark of youth fires through her, and we will wrestle, my hand against her whole tiny body. But mostly, she’s passive and simply enjoys the sensations, the interaction between us. I think it makes her feel good. I know it does me.

11 comments:

  1. What a lovely interaction you have with her, this time to enjoy each other and to bond. It's wonderful!

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  2. Aw, so sweet. What fun you two have.

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  3. It feels good to be able to do something you know they really enjoy.

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  4. Such a great routine, she obviously loves the attention! Mine, like the rest of yours are more likely to be grumbling while they wait for their supper.

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  5. The love expressed in a shared ritual is sometimes the most poignant love of all.

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  6. Tungsten is such a dear girl. She has such a sweet and sincere expression on her lovely face.
    Marty the Manx, above, said it perfectly.
    You know, as I think back, I don't think I've ever known an orange ladycat.
    May I ask how she got her name? Cats love their names, you know.

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    1. I'm told orange females are rare. This one is certainly unique. But then they all are. Tungsten's name comes from nothing more than it being my favourite element. Long before I had a cat, I thought it would be a good name for one. So when she came into my life, Tungsten she became.

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    2. Wolfram would have been hard for a girl cat.

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  7. I always feel a bit sad when I read some expert or other on all feline "do not do hand play." Yes some cats do bite or scratch but not all. Me and Timmy love a good wrestle. I grab him by putting my hand around his neck, he bites the web between finger and thumb, grabs my forearm with 4 paws and we are off. I roll him back and forth and make growling noises at him. He gnaws on my hand and grabs but neither does any harm to the other. We have a grand time with our game and have been doing it several times a week since he was small.
    Thanks
    Dad and Timmy

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    1. I agree. IT depends on the cat, of course, but most of them know the difference between play and fighting. I also wrestle with Tucker. I grab his melon-head and threaten to crush it, while he tries to bite and paw me. He does gets me sometimes, and he's more surprised than I am - and is always worried that he's in trouble for it. That's a cat who knows we're just playing.

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