« August 3, 2002 | home | Kitten Tummy »

The seamy underside of romance

Today he drank from my bathwater. I thought it was the pinnacle of romance until I discovered his water bowl was empty. He did seem suspiciously eager at the edge of the tub; he braced himself with his front paws actually below the water line.

His balance is improving daily, but his increasing size is a disadvantage on the edge of the tub, and he fell in again. I caught him and wrapped him in a towel, and he remains perfectly calm about the aftermath of these incidents. It's becoming a ritual with us. Perhaps he even enjoys it.

I began the day with not quite enough sleep. Kitten alarm, which involves numerous direct hits to the monkey head, has no snooze button. I rolled out of bed and into bike clothes and did a quick 30 miles before I could think clearly about what I was doing. I went out along Skyline, which has lovely views but succeeded primarily in making me wish I had a motorcycle. I didn't go very far, both to cut short my longing and to get on with my day.

Kitten's energy was high when I got home, and we had an extended game of kitty fishing pole. Today saw another developmental milestone: first stuttering while chasing a bird-like object. This chattering sound has always struck me as a feline attempt at a bird call, but I've read that it doesn't have any purpose or at most is a dry run for the killing neck-bite. If that's true, it seems like a singularly arrogant sound to make while stalking prey.

By midday the lack of sleep had caught up with me. Apparently, the mere whisper of my desire for a nap was enough to send him into a fresh bout of kitty crazies. Regretfully I closed a door between us, albeit not until I had determined that it would be impossible to sleep through repeated (and vigorous) attacks on my toes.

On waking, the first thing I did was open the door. The kitten purred upon seeing me and was quite calm and willing to forego toe-biting. He was also feeling somewhat needy and commenced nursing behavior almost immediately. This mostly involves licking and kneading. I've tried to discourage earlobe-sucking for practical reasons. He drools all over the place, and his teeth are getting big, which invariably leads to a painful allergic reaction on my part.

Kitten is trying to find a good substitute for my earlobe somewhere in the vicinity of my neck, and today he settled on my collarbone. Wumpus used to do some nursing behaviors (limited to kneading and nosling) at my collarbone, so I let my guard down. I ended up with a drooly neckline and a hickey. A hickey is never an attractive thing, whether on an adult or a teenager. I'll be wearing higher necklines for the next day or so, because this is something I definitely don't care to explain again.

We are developing our own peculiar relationship. Wumpus's long, early illness gave us some odd rituals, but these seem odder somehow. I do give in and refer to myself as his "mommy," but the bathing and nursing behavior makes him more of a child surrogate than I feel comfortable with. The nursing in particular, since the bathing is another practical matter to do with my allergies.

I remember thinking this afternoon, "Maybe I should get him a little bottle or some kind of kitty pacifier so it's not my skin at least," and then shaking my head. I can't get my kitten a pacifier, and the last thing I need is to train him that sucking results in food. Just the logistics involved in going on vacation make me shudder. The whole point of cats is their relative independence -- leashing oneself to a bottle-feeding schedule is not on. Bottle-feeding. I can't believe I considered it. Oh, I can believe it; he seems so happy, and he purrs so loudly.

The purr, what an amazing sound. I wonder if the world would be a more peaceful place if humans purred? Would we have made it out of Africa? Or would humans still be concentrated there, perhaps alternately sharing fruit and greeting each other, bonobo fashion, and just curling up in piles, purring. No art, no science, no technology. Religion would be unnecessary. In a society intoxicated by purring on demand, there would be no weighty questions. Who cares how we got here or whether there is life after death, just rest your nose near my ear and purr, close enough that I can feel the faint vibrations on my skin.

August 4, 2002