Saturday, February 24, 2007

c is for cat

Poor Cat. That's what we've been calling Ingrid lately, just Cat, because it's the same word we use when we point to the picture of the cat in the Book of Words that brings a smile to Daniel's face. Cat gets lonely at night. I sometimes hear her body scud against the door of the bedroom, as if she is settling herself down to lie as close to us as possible. Other times, she cries a lonely cry from the hallway that makes me want to relent and open the door and let her in. When I come out to use the bathroom, she always runs to greet me, swishing up against my ankle and angling for a head scratch.

She used to sleep on our bed with us, back when it was just the three of us, and earlier, when her brother George was still alive, and they jockeyed for the prime positions in the crooks of our knees or behind our heads. When I was pregnant, the vet came over for a house call, and I told her I didn't know what we were going to do when the baby was born because I worried about Ingrid jumping into the bassinet with Daniel and possibly smothering him. She advised me to get her used to sleeping outside the room before the baby was born because otherwise she might associate Baby with Exile. So we started, half-hearted, but we are softies, and soon she was back in the bed.

We had to get serious when we brought Daniel home, though, first sleeping in the bassinet and now between us. (His crib phase lasted about two weeks before he was back in our room. He sleeps better when he's in the bed with us.) Strangely enough, and despite her occasional loneliness at night, Ingrid seems to understand. Aside from the minor ankle-swiping freakouts when his crying gets to her, she has been surprisingly patient with the new little bundle, who now grabs eagerly for her ears and whiskers and legs and would put her tail in his mouth if she let him get away with it. For all the stray whiskers we've had to pry out of his fists, Ingrid has never once hissed or snapped at Daniel. And that's something. Because few people have entered our house and escaped the wrath of Ingrid. Cynthia knows. So does Anne, who once slipped on her stocking feet and landed on my wood floor, only to come face-to-face with a batting, hissing feline who thought her mommy was being attacked.

Ingrid is losing a lot of weight. Her tummy no longer swings back and forth under her when she walks, and her muscle tone makes it harder for her to jump and run like she used to. Kidney failure and nearly 15 cat years of life will do that. But she still makes it onto the bed, and during the day, it is her domain. She digs head-first into the down comforter until she's burrowed her way under it, and she'll stay there for hours, hibernating, dreaming, curled into herself. Sometimes when we bring Daniel onto the bed to play, we'll accidentally nudge her awake under her lump of covers. It shifts and moves, and pretty soon, her head pokes out, and her body is all warm and soft, and Cat comes and sits almost dutifully next to the smiling boy ("Hi, Cat!"), ready for another tug on the tail. The other day, she laid herself down next to him, and I thought that maybe it would be OK to let her back into the bed with us at night. We're not quite there yet, but maybe soon.


Susanne said...

What a nice post, Em! It sounds like Ingrid's been a really good sport, and that your love for her shows through, regardless of the (necessary) neglect she's had lately. Really cute pic of Daniel touching her!

Carrie said...

awww, I like Ingrid - what a good cat!! Hugs to you guys!

liz said...

Hmm, we're probably not ready for children if this post made me tear up at the thought of banishing my two little sweet potatoes from our bed. (Or, you know, the fact that I refer to cats as "my little sweet potatoes.")