Orange Cat Attack

It’s amazing to me that a six pound ball of fur has become such a force in our household. Some days I wonder”¦ what did we talk about before we got Nigel, our orange tabby cat?

When we adopted him, we already had two cats and a German shepherd, all who have been part of our family for years. We loved them, but unless something happened that demanded my attention, such as a cat barfing up a hairball on our new couch or the dog biting the UPS guy, our interaction with the pets was routine and unremarkable.

When we decided to bring a kitten into our family, I knew that it would monopolize the attention of my daughters, at least for the week that the cat was still a kitten. However, I expected that once the cat became an adult, it would be like the other two cats ““ loved, fed, and cleaned up after ““ but really only commented on if one of them discovered a new place to get cozy for its requisite 22 hours of sleep.

What has surprised me is that even though Nigel is an adult cat now, he actually gets more attention ““ not just from the girls, but from all members of the family ““ than he did when he was a kitten. When our 18 year old son comes home from school, never mind saying hi to the rest of the family, it’s Nigel that he cheerily greets before he disappears into his room and computer for the next 12 hours. When Steve wants a break from fielding phone calls from clients, he plays fetch with Nigel. When our teenage daughter stumbled into the kitchen for breakfast this morning, her first words were, “Nigel did the cutest thing yesterday.” And throughout the day, our youngest daughter is giving us reports from the front, “Nigel just did the biggest kitty stretch.”

One reason we talk about him so much is because he is ubiquitous. Whenever there’s movement in the house, he’s right there. It’s a little startling to open the refrigerator door and find Nigel sitting vulture-like on top of it. Or when I’m brush my teeth and just as I lean down to spit, I realize that his orange face is about two inches from mine. And when Steve and Ethan use the bathroom, they tell me that avoiding Nigel requires really good aim.xena-and-nigel-web.jpg

Nigel’s stealthiness, athleticism, and fearlessness are because he is at heart a feral cat, unlike our other cats who are descended from a long line of “slug muffins” as our daughter calls them. But since he is an indoor cat who doesn’t have to face mental challenges just to survive, Nigel finds interesting ways to occupy his kitty brain, such as flipping the door stops. While we’re lying in bed at about 5:00 am, we start hearing “thwaang, thwaang.” And then there’s stealing and chewing iPod earphones and cell phone chargers. But probably his favorite game is “take down the German shepherd.” After Nigel has run the dog around the family room a few dozen times, she comes over to Steve with big puppy eyes, as if to say, “Make the bad kitty stop!”

And speaking of bad kitties, he loves spending time on the counter when I’m preparing dinner. We’ve tried squirting him, clapping our hands, pushing him off ““ all with very little change in his behavior. We need a “Cat Whisperer,” but I’m afraid we’ve given up on cat discipline. This will ensure that no one ever comes over to our house for dinner again, but I’ve looked over to find Nigel on the table licking his butt while Steve is eating.

Did adding that third cat put us over the edge and we’re now into crazy cat lady territory where all we talk about is our cats? Maybe, but only to each other”¦and in blogs.

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