My girlfriend and I are three weeks into a companionship with a cream-colored, 3-year-old snugglebutt we call “Wallace.” His given name at the Humane Educational Society was “Hawk,” but that didn’t make any sense considering his felid species. We searched for weeks to find a cat whose personality was something like a 50/50 split between cuddling and independence. In other words, we wanted him in our laps when we were home, but we also needed him to be okay with long hours of free time. We named him “Wallace” because I was reading a biography of David Foster Wallace when we acquired him. A week later and he would’ve been named “Whitley” or “Strieber” or “Wolfen.” He now even has his own Instagram account. Here are few thoughts from some novice cat owners. Maybe you could provide some helpful insight?
Why does he lick so much?
Wallace enjoys licking everything. This includes our hands while we pet him and our faces if we decide he needs our kisses. We’ve read that licking, purring, biscuit-making are all signs of outward affection, but we also want to make sure that’s not just a bunch of b.s. propaganda from a bunch of cat freaks who don’t have a better explanation. Could his licking be a sign of weakness? Is his water intake sufficient (we keep his bowl filled, I promise) or is he—like a dying a man in a desert—desperately trying to glean as much moisture as he can from our skin? Both of us are hoping his licking means that he loves us. I hope he’s not dying.
I get why people dress up their pets in stupid costumes
We were at Walgreen’s the other night purchasing some last minute items for a weekend bender of stationary TV watching. I found myself wandering into an aisle filled with Halloween costumes and the following conversation took place:
Me: Lauren, come here now!
Lauren: What do you want? I’m loading up on Pringles over here…
Me: Look at this devil costume. Does it not beat all you ever seen in this world?
Lauren: We don’t have a baby, you said you could never love a human child as your own…
Me: Shh! Shut up...wouldn’t he be so cute in this for Halloween? Imagine the reactions...
Lauren: ...AHHH! We could carry him to the door and people would squeal with delight!
Me: Oh my god! What are we talking about? What’s wrong with you?! We have become THOSE people.
Lauren: Love is a battlefield.
Lauren always quotes Pat Benatar song titles when she feels embarrassed by something she’s said. And she should be embarrassed! That was ridiculous to think we should dress our cat up in a costume...for Halloween…ugh. We left our Pringles and contraception at the store and drove home completely disgusted with ourselves. Look, we want to be good cat parents, but we definitely don’t want to be crazy cat people. That brief moment of ill-thought in Walgreen’s made us realize how easy it is to become one of them.
Wallace had his first trip to the vet and came back with a clear bill of health. A few odd things happened while we were were there. The vet asked me what we fed him and what times he ate. I froze up and said “some wet stuff mixed with the dry niblets,” which was a stupid response and I could tell she was concerned that I might not be equipped mentally to handle cat ownership. Wallace is healthy overall and has a “pleasant demeanor.” He got microchipped so we could track him down if he ever lost half of his body in an accident or something. I made a joke about a microchip being the “literal mark of the beast” but she didn’t laugh. The flea medication didn’t come with obvious instructions, so I asked if I should just “squirt it directly in his eyes” and I thought she was going to have a heart attack. These veterinarians take their jobs SERIOUSLY.
We bought Wallace a bunch of stuff to make him comfortable in our apartment. He has a scratching box and post, a covered litter box, a perch and a fluffy bed. We also bought him a selection of toys which he is slowly learning how to interact with. His primary focus right now is food and lovings, a cycle which repeats itself over and over again (which is the definition of “repeat”). Mornings are the most difficult. He has realized that he gets food after a long process involving showers, human breakfast and closet time. That last sentence makes it sound like we eat naked which I cannot deny. It is in Wallace’s best interest to jumpstart this process as early as possible. He’s not dumb. His first game is to play as loudly as possible with a Q-tip or, surprisingly, the outside of his litterbox. I’m a very light sleeper and the first moment of noise sits me bolt upright in bed. The bastard knows my weakness. Other than this morning routine, Wallace has no interest whatsoever in play. Any tips?
Ultimately, Wallace is just a pile of warm fur that we pay money to snuggle with. And you know what, that's exactly what we wanted. Plus, he kind of made it clear to us that we were his new parents. We let him pick us at the Humane Educational Society one Thursday afternoon. The great thing about HES—other than the amazing staff—is the ability for potential pet owners to exists in the cat’s own environment. They have several large rooms filled with adoptable cats. Lauren and I walked in, sat down, and Wallace was in her lap. Then he was in my lap. And then back into her lap. It was almost as if he were saying “where the hell have you been all my life?” I signed the adoption form and picked him up a few days later. Other than becoming a bit more bold with his manipulations, Wallace is the puurrrfect cat. Yeah, I just did that.
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