Monday, May 9, 2011
Bear’s fan club
“Poor Bear,” I say as I kneel down beside her and smooth my hands over her face. I start at her nose and work up towards the top of her head, running my thumbs along the space between her eyes as my fingers spread out across her cheeks, wiping away the wispy white cat hairs that cling to her black face.
She peers up at me with her big brown eyes, making her lips look extra droopy, “Yes,” she seems to say. “Poor me.”
Beside her, taking up about two-thirds of the blanket, Cleo sprawls on her stomach, shaped like a teardrop. Her front legs form two perfectly straight lines, stretched as far forward as her paws can reach. Face-on she becomes an inverted triangle, her paws are the tip, the base her relaxed ears. Everything in between falls neatly into place as though in her contentment she is melting downward, to a point, while her self-satisfied feline smile puffs out her chipmunk cheeks.
If Murdoch wasn’t lying nearby, Chestnut would be here too, purring his bulldozer-engine purr, snuggling up to Bear’s other side, boxing her in.
I don’t know if the cats think they are small dogs or if they think Bear is a really big cat, but if they could hold up banners and march around with them clutched in their front paws they would be painted with things like “We love you Bear!” and “Bear rules!”
They have worshipped Bear since the day they met her. Brought home in a box with four other three-week-old kittens, I doubt they had ever seen a dog before, Bear was probably their first and when she didn’t try to eat them, they installed her as some kind of idol.
Since then, their roles as Bear’s biggest fans have only grown.
When Bear walks into a room the cats leap to their feet and rush at her, winding around her legs and arching their backs to rub against her chin or belly. I imagine them squealing her name, “It’s Bear!” as though she is some kind of rock star disembarking from a plane, gracing them with her presence on her world tour.
They act as though their reverence is some kind of great honour. Cleo spends every waking moment keeping tabs on Bear’s movements, watching her from afar if not right in her face, while Chestnut embraces his flying visits when Murdoch is outside. As soon as the door is closed with Murdoch safely on the other side, Chestnut stomps purposefully down the stairs and makes a beeline for Bear on her blanket. If she has also gone outside, Chestnut contents himself with rolling around on her bed, inhaling the Bearness from her blanket, often burrowing in between layers and lying still, transported to some Zen place.
As far as Bear is concerned however, she looks like she wants to crawl into a hole when the cats show up. She mopes around with cat hair clinging to her fur and lets out deep gut-wrenching sighs whenever a cat encroaches on her space. She tries to look away when Cleo marches around in front of her meowing and prancing in some kind of bonding ritual only she understands.
Mostly, Bear conducts her daily routines as if the cats don’t exist at all. The cats have refused to acknowledge this, preferring, I think, to believe Bear loves them just as much as they love her. How could she not?