Lucas the street kitty is a wiry soul. When he first appeared, the size of a crumpled handkerchief, we were living in a place a few blocks from here. This is Lucas’s third apartment in three and-a-half years. Not once has he pottied outside the box or shown any other signs of maladjustment. He may have experienced a bit of stress shortly after his second birthday; but even then, he handled himself with aplomb.
The first sign that something was up was when a kennel-crate, smelling of pet store, was stationed in the spare room. No big deal, but it was obviously a mistake: Lucas was a streetcat, not an ocelot. Yet there the oversized cat carrier remained.
Then there was the behaviour change in his mommies. We paid more attention to him than usual, giving him soothing hugs when he wasn’t upset. Hmm. The last time we had done that was the day before he got neutered.
The final straw, though, was the exercise pen. Unaware that they come in shorter models, we bought the remaining one on sale at Canadian Tire, with four-foot-high sides. It’s made of metal wires the thickness of coat hangers, in six connected panels two feet wide each. Kinda heavy. Kinda bulky.
I grappled the thing loose from its cardboard packaging and opened it out, pushing back the furniture, to see how much floor space it took up. Then I flattened it in half, making it four feet high by six feet wide, and leaned it, almost perpendicular to the floor, against the kitchen table. Then I went to fetch a plastic tarp from the closet, to use as flooring.
All this while, Lucas was observing these latest shenanigans of his amusing biped and investigating the shiny metal contraption with delicate sniffs. Then I bumped into the table.
Down the pen tipped onto the hardwood parquet, with the force of an overturned piano and the sound of an exploding dry cleaner’s. Lucas tore around three sides of it and vaporized. He beamed down into the bedroom closet, from which he refused to emerge for four hours.
Two days later, the hominids arrived home with a funny-smelling, lop-eared, fuzzy brown thing smaller than any self-respecting cat. We tried to explain to Lucas that this was his new brother, just an innocent little baby, that’s all. “Oh, yeah?” Lucas hissed. “Well if that thing’s so harmless, why is it in a cage?”
Despite such an inauspicious beginning, Lucas has gradually warmed to the intruder. He has always been willing to teach the puppy proper etiquette (see photo); he has always slapped the dog with sheathed claws only; he has always left plenty of food for poggles after taking the first few bites. I suspect that his tolerance began changing to genuine love the first time the pup washed one of Lucas’s ears.
Now dog and cat rough-house together, greet each other with head rubs, sit side-by-side to watch a squirrel on the balcony, and hover in concern when their sibling is sick. We uprights spend more time with the high-maintenance pet than with the self-cleaning model; but the joy that the two brothers get from each other’s company alleviates any resentment that Lucas might otherwise have harboured.