I have previously said, or written, that cats are creatures of habit: they will follow a routine religiously – until they don’t. The truth is that cats’ behaviour evolves, usually along with their personalities. Cammie is a good example of this.
Her world changed fundamentally after her stroke at the end of May. She recovered, at least superficially, from all its effects save for her blindness. She cannot see. At first, I thought this might lead to her remaining stationary as much as possible. But I didn’t count on her spirit, a spirit which demanded that she rule her principality as a princess should. I have described how she will ‘make a progression’ (as it was called when the Tudor monarchs did it) through the length and breadth of the realm simply to take a drink of water from her favourite cup. Even so, she has changed, though how much this has resulted from her sightlessness I can’t say.
She has become a lap-cat. She can often be found in one of the two heated cat-beds these days – it’s cold outside now, and my princess is, shall we say, mature – but she waits at certain times of the day for me to sit on the couch. After dinner, for instance, I relax for a bit with a cup of tea. When she hears me sit, she gets up and makes her way over to me, climbing up her little staircase and lying down on my lap (getting up and walking away only to return a couple of times in the first one or two minutes…). Initially, she lie diagonally across my lap, so I needed one hand to support her, and keep her from falling off as she relaxed and the other hand to pet her. Now, she situates herself more centrally, and I can actually hold a book to read while she lies on me. Sometimes, she will stay with me for half an hour, purring the whole time.
Cammie’s meal-times have changed, too. She doesn’t always want soft food; now and then, she simply doesn’t feel like it. But when she does, she will sit up in her bed, or at least raise her head, showing some interest. I tell her, “Cammie, up up, up up.” Very often, she will walk to the sitting room’s couch, once more ascend the stairs and wait for her food. That’s where she usually eats now. I don’t know how this evolved, but I am pleased by it. It allows me to keep a ready eye on her, to see if she wants more food, to see if she is eating at all and, most importantly, to see when she is finished. When she finishes, she gets down and, though, since she was struck blind, she rarely tries to eat anyone else’s food, that is still a danger, so having her where I can observe her permits me better to guard against her ingestion of food that will cause one of her episodes.
Finally, there is the moment when, early in the morning, I must go to work. To relieve her of the stress of negotiating an apartment full of cats when I am not present, and to encourage her to eat the special hard food she is given, I isolate the princess in the bedroom. She has there a litter-box, food and three water-bowls (though I think she uses only her favourite.) Since I have started installing a heated cat-bed each day before leaving, Cammie is much less reluctant to go into the bedroom at the appointed time. In fact, now she frequently does it unbidden. I will sometimes see her slowly walking toward the bedroom of her own volition, or will find her already there, in the cat-bed or waiting for it. There, she has all the comforts and is, for the day, an ‘only-cat’, as is her fervent desire.
My Cammie’s habits change, as do those of other cats; sometimes slowly, imperceptibly; sometimes over night. I am thankful that her evolutions have been beneficial, helpful not only to herself but to me. When I think back to her arrival in my life, and how I was actually afraid of this hissing, yowling animal, I think that her time with me has been filled with marvels. But then, that is to be expected, for Cammie is a marvel herself.