New cat in the house

“The naming of cats is a difficult matter…” T. S. Eliot

Last week I learned that the Salvageable household would be gaining a new member. A nine-month-old kitten was available for adoption; his sponsoring agency said that he is so friendly that “he never met a stranger.” We have had a vacancy in the household since Beau faded away last spring, so I was quick to approve the addition. Still, fees had to be paid and paperwork had to be filed, and his move-in date was delayed until yesterday. Monday being a holiday, it was a good day to welcome a cat into the house, since members of the family were going to be at home.

The new cat was to be claimed at 1:00 p.m. I waited at the house while another family member went out to complete the adoption. As she returned, she was closely followed by two other cars. Two of my daughters, who are championship dancers, had a holiday event at midday. Expecting to meet the new cat, they skipped lunch with their teacher and fellow dancers to rush home, nearly arriving before the cat had entered the house.

He explored thoroughly and quickly made himself at home. In very little time he was accepting affection, trying out laps, and playing with toys. The only fly in the ointment was the disapproval of our five-year-old, found-in-a-Walmart-parking-lot cat. She hid under the dining room table, hissing and spitting when he got too close. We still believe that the two of them will become friends. In fact, one reason for adopting a kitten was to reduce her loneliness when people are away and to give her more opportunity for exercise. However, even though she was able to accept a small dog in her house for a few hours last week with no emotion beyond mild curiosity, the addition of a playful kitten was jarring to her emotional equilibrium.

The new cat is black-furred with pumpkin-orange eyes. He has a long tail and big feet, all indications that he is going to get a bit bigger and stronger in the next few months. We are probably going to have to buy a squirt gun to enforce the house rules for cats: no clawing the furniture, no jumping onto the dining room table or kitchen counters. (Come to think of it, those actions are forbidden to human family members as well.) Like most young cats, he is playful, curious, energetic, but also eager to receive love and affection from the people in his life.

After supper, we had a surprising revelation about our new cat. My youngest daughter picked up a cat toy and tossed it across the room for him to chase. He scampered after it, picked it up in his mouth, ran back to her, and dropped it at her feet. We have a kitten who plays “fetch.” In fact, he continued that game much longer than any of his previous play periods of the day.

With three other people to meet, I was the last to get much attention from him. To me that comes as no surprise; bonding of humans and cats often seems to be cross-gender (male cats favoring female humans and female cats preferring male humans). So after a while I went downstairs to read, as is my custom in the evenings. Soon the new cat appeared, explored the library, and finally found his way onto my lap. He made it plain to me that he loves me just as much as he loves the rest of the family. For that matter, he woke me up twice during the night to make sure that I still love him and to reassure me that he still loves me.

The biggest challenge, apart from persuading the cats to be friends, is finding a name for the new cat. We agreed that his name must match his personality but also must have dignity. (We weren’t responsible for naming Beau, although we did change the spelling of his name.) This cat had been named Midnight, but we decided that Midnight did not fit him. Nor did he seem to respond to the name. One family member strongly urged the name Fiyero, the reason being that the musical “Wicked” has been in town this month. I was least appreciative of Fiyero, both because I didn’t enjoy the performance of “Wicked”—more about that in another post—and because the name sounds like a car model rather than a cat. Tybalt was strong in the running for a while. My youngest daughter opted for Sir Isaac Newton, and by evening she was already calling him “Sir.” With that inspiration, I suggested that we consider a name from the Arthurian legends. Once that was said, we quickly agreed upon Galahad.

So, now Galahad is part of the family. I’m eager to learn how his first full day in the household has gone, whether the other cat has calmed enough to accept him into the family, and how he deals with people coming and going because they have jobs, classes, and other obligations. I know that Galahad will be a valuable member of the family, even if I will have to close him out of the bedroom at night to allow me to get my sleep. J.

Tilting at windmills

Blogging gives me the opportunity to share some of my eccentric opinions and tendencies, but I am not the only eccentric person in my family. I have relatives who pursue interests and espouse causes that are, if possible, even more unusual than my own interests and causes.

One of my relatives is concerned about wasting time. Specifically, she is concerned about the lost seconds that remain when food, cooked in the microwave oven, is ready before the timer has stopped. Most of us take the food out of the microwave and press the stop/cancel button. My relative considers those remaining seconds lost forever. She wants them to remain on the microwave display for the next person to use. This, of course, does not work for me. The seconds she leaves on the microwave are never the number of seconds I need to use. The turntable inside the microwave makes one complete turn every ten seconds while the microwave is running. Whenever possible, I try to choose a number of seconds divisible by ten so the food is in the front of the microwave when I open the door. I’m pretty stubborn about that, so I tend to clear her twenty-five seconds and enter my forty seconds without being concerned about the time I have just wasted.

Another of my relatives also has a microwave oven concern. It bothers him that the numbers seven, eight, and nine are used less often than the other numbers, especially five and zero. He tries to equalize the use of the numbers by making numbers less round. If something is to be heated for one and a half minutes, for example, he sets the timer for 89 seconds rather than 1:30.

One of my relatives dislikes the term “happy hour.” She wants to make a rule requiring bars and restaurants to make their happy hours sixty minutes long. When they have special prices from two until five in the afternoon or from four until six in the evening, she wants to prevent them from calling the occasion a “happy hour.”

I have relatives who live down in Arkansas, and some of them are trying to change a name. It seems (if I follow their argument correctly) that when French explorers first sailed down the Mississippi River, they spent some time with the Illini. Before leaving, they asked the Illini who lived further south near the river. The Illini answered with their word for “the people in the south,” which sounded to the French like Ark-an-saw. The explorers recorded this word, although–being French–they chose to end it with a silent S. (They did the same to the Illini, creating the name Illinois.) When the explorers happened upon the villages of the Quapaw, they decided that these people must be the Ark-an-saw people mentioned by the Illini. The explorers called these people the Arkansas people, and they named the river which joins the Mississippi River near their villages the Arkansas River. When the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, people continued to call the river the Arkansas River, and the French fortress near that river, now occupied by American citizens, became known as Arkansas Post. When Louisiana became a state, the Missouri Territory was formed, with Arkansas County as the southern portion of the territory. Later, when Missouri became a state, Arkansas County turned into Arkansas Territory, and eventually it became the state of Arkansas. Now my relatives are pushing to remember the Quapaw. They want to start by renaming the stretch of river between Fort Smith and Napoleon the Quapaw River instead of the Arkansas River.

As far as I’m concerned, my relatives are tilting at windmills. No one else is going to stop “wasting time” with their microwave ovens or start using the seven, eight, and nine buttons more often. “Happy hour” is not going to be regulated, and the Quapaw River will never be shown on any maps. Sorry, kin of mine, but that’s the way the world works. J.