A photo essay of Hera (left) and Tippy (right). They would like you to know that they are not blood-related.
I am sitting in my bedroom trying to take advantage of some quiet focused time to write. Our internet connection is flickering in and out, and I’m not getting much done. Frustrated, I look up and catch sight of a minor miracle: our two cats are sleeping together.
Tippy and Hera are each, individually, wonderful cats, and I like to tell myself that they are secretly fond of each other, but I’m not 100% sure that they agree. I’m not even 50% sure they agree. They are sisters only because we chose them at the same time at the Humane Society. They are both calicos. Their resemblance more or less ends there. But now – will miracles never cease? – they are *grooming* each other.
This will almost assuredly end in a fight. It pretty much always does. I’ve been parenting so much for the last two weeks that I am highly attuned to “things which usually end in fights.” I wait. They settle. I am stunned.
And then, just like that, Hera is done. She gets up and leaves. Look at Tippy’s shock.
I imagine she’s thinking, “But I was being NICE. WHY ARE YOU LEAVING?” To be fair, pretty little Tippy is not usually nice. Hera was probably smart to leave when she did.
And Tippy doesn’t seem too bothered by it all. She settles back in for a nap, moving to the center of the chair seat, her rightful spot reclaimed.
Nine months was a long time to be out of our house for renovations, but at least the humans in our household understood that our tiny apartment was only a temporary space. Tippy and Hera, our cats, were less fortunate. They clearly thought our move to the apartment was a significant turn for the worse in their lives. They were particularly grumpy about the change from being indoor/outdoor cats to being indoor cats.
Tippy – who, after we got her, spent long hours lying in wait, hidden, so that she could escape every time the smaller humans opened the door to leave – is the reason that they are allowed outside. The apartment was practically an affront to her existence, and she was, frankly, dissatisfied with the only alternative to the great outdoors that we had to offer her: a tiny back porch.
When we moved back in, our house was so dramatically altered that we didn’t know if they would recognize the place. We didn’t want to risk them getting lost, so we kept them inside for a few days. Hera was pretty relaxed about the whole situation, but Tippy was not impressed.
So yesterday, we relented. Tippy kept begging at the front door, so we let them out. Look at their cautious excitement.
This morning, as I sat in our new kitchen, enjoying the sunshine, I noticed that neither of the girls was begging to be let out the back door, even though they were right next to it. Then I realized that they had never seen a sliding glass door before. I promptly stood up, walked over, and opened the door. I thought their heads were going to explode. Tippy who is, honestly, way way smarter than Hera, kept looking at the door and then looking at me as if to say, “Um… you just opened a WALL.” Hera actually stuck her paw through the opening and then pulled it back in several times, like some character in a Disney film who’s testing a magical portal. Eventually, they both went outside. Hera freaked herself out and came right back in – what if that magic portal turns back into a wall?! Tippy looked back as if to say, “See ya!” and disappeared into the neighbors’ yard, probably to let the neighborhood know that she’s home and will be requiring her previous rations of adoration and food.
And I returned to my sunny spot in the kitchen, chuckling and glad to be home.
Hera has trapped a black hairband and is yowling insistently. “Come!” she bawls. “I, the intrepid hunter, have rescued you from your carelessness! I have caught another of your discarded objects! I must be admired!”
Between her squawks, meditation music trickles serenely through the floorboards. Our upstairs’ neighbor’s dog has anxiety and will bark all day without the music to keep him calm. Hera is nonplussed by this feeble attempt to lull her into complacency. She yowls again and trots toward me, hairband firmly in her jaws.
As I open the door to let her take her treasure to the porch, a black squirrel chitters indignantly, its paws scrabbling over the wood railing to the safety of the next porch . Hera eyes it disdainfully: she will not lower herself to chase such a creature, not when she has already vanquished this fearful foe. She turns back to me and drops the band. I know what is coming: she must be adored.
She leaps to the back of the couch, inches from the desk where I’m trying to write. I know better than to ignore her, but I don’t demonstrate my fealty quickly enough, and Hera is in my lap, prodding my typing hands, stepping on the keyboard, purring loudly, insistently. ADORE ME NOW!
And honestly, how could I not?
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