My home life has become a virtual cat video. All day and into the night, cat cuteness abounds.
The star is Jack, a calico Brooklyn cat who moved in with us in June along with Julia, her owner, companion, best buddy and, let’s face it, mom.
As Julia and Jack’s arrival approached, I had reason to worry. Jack was exclusively an indoor cat. Her white paws had touched that outdoor substance we call dirt maybe once.
I had no desire to share my living space with a fur-shedding, poop-box-using feline, even a cute one. I’d just as soon share a room with one of those evil clowns.
Cheryl advised me to cool it. Jack would be a benign presence, she predicted.
What about during the day when I’m at work and can’t defend my pillow? I said.
Jack will not curl up on your pillow, she said.
Indeed, my fears were overblown. Jack’s mostly been living in the upstairs of our house with Julia, while Cheryl and I are in the garage waiting for a kitchen-living room improvement project to wrap up.
However, these lines of separation are frequently blurred. Julia’s always on the go. Here and there, everywhere. And when she’s away, Jack is bundled up and trundled over to the garage.
That’s right. I’m now a cat sitter.
Initially, I gave Jack the stink eye. What, you again?
Cheryl is far more welcoming. At the sight of Jack, she coos and begins high-pitched baby talk. To watch a mature woman transform instantly into a puddle of mush is something to behold.
Where did you get that voice? I asked. It’s unearthly. You’re freaking me out.
Before Jack, I thought I knew cats. I’ve had ‘em most of my adult life — indoor/outdoor cats that enjoyed mixing it up with the real world, then retreating indoors for a little snooze.
Jack is nothing like them. Even in full adulthood, she is pure kitten, all softness and playfulness. During spirited play, her claws and teeth NEVER come out. She prefers to flop on her back, exposing her white belly.
But for her ties to a litter box, you might suppose Jack was an animatronic plush toy. I’ve never petted softer fur. I’ve never petted a gentler creature.
No one ever explained to me that a cat raised from birth in a protected bubble could turn out like a Jack, the Eternal Kitten.
So, what’s the down side?
Having an animal that is forever in your domestic space can be a negative. At 5 a.m., maybe I don’t want to wake up to a feline engaged in a mock battle with her own tail. Maybe I find her obsessive raking of her litter box — at 3 a.m. — a little irritating. And maybe I don’t like stepping on the litter granules that have dropped out from between her toes.
And the cat hair. It’s everywhere. It chokes the vacuum filter. And where there’s hair, there’s certainly invisible dander. I hate to even think about it.
That said, sharing my domestic life with a cat hasn’t killed me. I may even have a more robust immune system. And yes, petting Jack, she of the throaty purr, is sublime.
A final word: Heaven forbid Jack should escape into the rough-and-tumble real world while under our care.
Jack knows next to nothing about the real world.
From a window overlooking our backyard, she can see our outdoor cats, Kitten and Calico. Does she know they’re felines like her or does she suppose they’re wild cats of the African savanna?
Increasingly, Jack is venturing down our spiral staircase to the base of the door that opens into the car bays, with the great outdoors just beyond. In apparent fascination, she sits there, listening to the sounds of Kitten’s and Calico’s random cat noises and far-off bird chirping.
These are the sounds of an unknown, unexplored world.
What are you thinking, Jack?