Monday, November 15, 2010

Cat Habits

I’ve found that cats are creatures of habit, even more than humans. They probably feel comforted by being able to do the same things in the same ways at the same times in the same places. My cats are like that. Their habits concern eating and sleeping, playing and sleeping, greeting visitors and sleeping. They sleep a great deal. Yet I’ve found that these habits can change, suddenly, succeeded by new ones. Why? I don’t know.

Tungsten, for instance, has a particular way of lying on my lap. When she lies facing me, her head is to my right. When she climbs, jumps or, periodically and painfully, crawls her way onto my shoulders, which is her favourite position on me, she always faces to my left. She drinks from a dripping tap. She can drink from a bowl, of course; I’ve seen her do it. But she prefers the tap, and will sit on the bathroom counter by the basin for hours to do so, if need be. Sometimes, especially if I’m sleeping, she will give a particular meow, asking for the tap to be turned on. I’ve been told to ignore her, and she’ll quit. This means ignoring the meows, which grow weaker and weaker, sadder and sadder, as if she were perishing from dehydration, ignored and abandoned. I usually get up and give her a drink. Even this habit, though, has changed: she has altered the position from which she drinks and turns her head to the right now, rather than to the left, as previous. Why? I don’t know.

Josie has a specific way and place for sleeping at night. The other cats do as well, but hers is to lie between me and the edge of the bed, facing the doorway, with her chubby body perpendicular to mine. Her big bum will be up against my side and her head near the bed’s edge. What prompted this attitude? I don’t know. She also used to lie on the back of my couch, so much so that it is now permanently deformed, bowed under her great weight. She would lie in a horse-shoe shape, and, initially, gravity and her bulk pulled her off from time to time. Then, after doing this for a year or more, she stopped lying there. Now she’s back. Why the changes? I don’t know.

Ren has an interesting habit. He has been fascinated by water for as long as he’s lived with me, and probably much longer. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, he will sit by the bathroom basin and watch the water run. He has sat on the rim of the tub after a shower (mine, not his) and observed drops run down the vertical surfaces. This habit he has broken, and he rarely does it anymore. His new habit is to stare at the bowl of water kept on the bathroom floor. I’ve known him to stare at it for up to half an hour. Sometimes, he will reach out with his paw and tap the surface of the liquid; sometimes he will change position and stare at it from another; once in a while, he will cock his head, to get a different angle. This patient gaze will, much of the time, end with a drink, though rarely one long enough to justify the wait beforehand; other times, he will simply walk away. It’s the scientist in him; he is always observing. But what is it about a bowl of still water that fascinates him so? I don’t know.

Tucker hasn’t been with me long enough to learn too many of his habits. He’s still creating them. He has started sleeping on the bed now, when he can find space, and though he has been eating out of the ‘communal’ food bowl, he still prefers the one in the library, that had been placed there during his days of isolation when he first arrived. When he is hungry, and there is too little food in the bowl, he will wait at the library door for me to fill it. Why doesn’t he go to the other food bowl? I don’t know.

But all of the cats’ habits are destined to receive a shock. At the end of November, I will be moving to a new home, a house. I of course will be taking my feline roommates with me. What will they make of this change? How will they adjust? Who will adapt the quickest? Who will be most upset? I don’t know.