Friday, April 09, 2004

Size matters. I'm just not sure to whom.

I am the proud mama to a rescue kitty. This cat showed up on my doorstep in the middle of a Buffalo NY blizzard. I saved his life, and he knows it. And this little 8 pound ball of fluff - who looks like a peach-colored cotton ball - is very protective of me, I believe in thanks of the rescue. He had self-esteem issues - very UNcommon for a cat, as you probably know - and was shy and timid, although not a scaredy-cat. Because of his incredible temperment, and in honor of the brave heart that I knew lay hidden, his name became Aslan. Aslan, the allegory for God in The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. They are favorite stories of mine, and have been since I was barely old enough to read. Aslan the lion is a great, terrible beast, who fights bravely, loves deeply, and sacrifices all for his followers. And I thought my little loved one needed a name with such strength.

I never dreamed how well it would fit.

Aslan (the cat, not the lion) wants to be near me at all times. If I leave the room while he's napping, he walks up to GB and meows loudly until he's told "Mommy's in the bedroom" and then he comes to find me, chirping and purring happily. He plays in the sink while I shower, and lies next to me on the couch - under the same blanket with me - while I watch tv and/or knit. And I like being the object of his affection. He's an unobtrusive eight pounds, declawed (which, by the way, I feel is a HORRID practice, and I wish more people would learn what it really is before they put their cats through that, but it's the way he showed up at my door, and as it can't be undone, it's part of the greater cat that I love) so his front feet are like piles of raspberries in your hand, and like most cats, he emmits the warmth of the sun when he wants to snuggle.

You might say more of a lamb than a lion.

You'd be wrong.

It seems that while Aslan isn't afraid of dogs, doesn't run from them, or shy from their barking, he doesn't much care for dogs that don't stop when I say "no". Oscar, our 50 pound foster pit, was in the house with me yesterday afternoon. And one of the things we're working on is not jumping up on people. But Oscar was SO excited. So he jumped up on me. And I said, loudly and firmly, like a good dog trainer, "NO!"" And with a blood curdling scream, Aslan went wild. He lept off of his napping place on the couch and slapped the dog three or four times, hissing madly. Need I remind you we're discussing an eight pound cotton ball without claws? Versus a 50 pound pitbull with very strong jaws?

Well, that 50 pound pitbull tried to head for the hills. Aslan was having none of it. Oscar tried running, he tried hiding behind furniture, he tried hiding behind me, none of it was working. Running through my mind was every article I've ever read about integrating new pets into the family. You're supposed to clearly favor the older pet - holding him, while someone else holds the newer pet as they delicately sniff each other. And so I was trying to get to where I could pick up Aslan and reassure him, but anytime I'd dodge right to pull Aslan off, Aslan would feint left and slap Oscar again. Ali would have been lucky to land so many punches. Not a single shot went stray - even with my arms and legs flailing between the two of them, I never felt anything more than the puff of hair brushing past, while I could hear the contact of cat-paw to dog-nose. Poor Oscar.

To be honest, I don't really have a problem with the cats asserting themselves over the dog. Oscar's strong enough that if he figures out just how strong he is, both the cats and I would be at a disadvantage, so it's best Oscar not have a chance to question family dominance. And when Oscar is sitting calmly, Aslan has no problem with him. The only times there has ever been any tension are times that I have reprimanded the dog and he hasn't responded instantly. Even in calmer moments, if I said "no", Aslan would growl until the dog did as I asked. (Oscar, by the way, would cower slightly at the sound of that low growl.)

My fearless defender. My hero. My cat.

Thoughts for the Day:

Samuel Palmer - A baited cat may grow as fierce as a lion.

Oliver Herford - A cat is a pygmy lion who loves mice, hates dogs, and patronizes human beings.


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