I’ve been adopted by a cat. Her name is Acorn. She’s the neighbor’s kitty.
The garden has always been overrun with neighboring cats to some degree. There was one I remember in particular that my daughter named George though it should have been Georgette. George was always over in the garden the moment I came out. George was so affectionate that she apparently forgot she was a cat and adopted some very un-catlike behavior of coming when called, licking your face, and rolling over so you could pet her tummy.
But now we have Acorn. Like George, whenever a door is opened, Acorn is up over the fence and at your feet for some petting. After a few successful infiltrations into the house, she is now trying to convince us to let her stay. If we did, I would be miserable as I’m highly allergic to cats.
Aside from the allergies, I’ve never been a huge fan of cats. Their sinister look and capricious nature has always left me suspicious of their intentions. It doesn’t help that their bites are especially nasty. Why keep a pet whose bite requires laboratory analysis?
Like George, this kitty has been well behaved and seems to genuinely love us. Aside from some dramatic bird run-ins, she’s never given us too much trouble. Still, I don’t leave the kids alone with her. Once she did lightly scratch my daughter’s face by accident, although on the rare occasion when our 18-month-old has backed her into a corner or been too rough, all she’s ever done is give a little warning swipe that barely brakes the skin.
But kitty behavior is still so inscrutable. I’m constantly asking my husband who came from a cat household to interpret. “Why does it come up and stare in my face?” “Her ears are turned back. Is she angry?” “Why is she stretching out and baring her claws while I’m petting her?” “Why did the cat suddenly hiss while we were petting her and run away?” “Why does she start rolling around the minute I start petting her if she doesn’t want us to pet her tummy?” Mysterious.
C’mon. Pet me. I dare you.
But, after years of seeing gardens that have cats as fixtures, I finally understand why. While dogs win at being great companion animals, cats get gardens. A cat will walk among the plantings and rub up against the fragrant ones and rustle the ones that make noise. They chase after bugs and lay down among the flowers. They are a garden ornament that moves and lives in the garden and loves it in ways we can’t ever perceive. Given that none of my neighbors garden, it’s small wonder I’ve been a popular destination for cats with all the catmint planted around here. At least there’s one area that cats and I both appreciate.