Cats get finicky.
For instance, our cat Diva has recently retracted her agreement to take all the affection I offer in deference to her own self-sufficiency. I suppose this is a good thing -- a sign of her blossoming self-image over the past eight months in my house -- so why do I feel like an unwanted mother in the house of a newly independent teenager?
When we first met, Diva carried herself with a fragile uncertainty that required an obsequious amount of affirmation. For months after moving in with me, she'd follow me around the house, looking up at me with her plaintive blue eyes and emitting pathetically feminine "mews" every few moments, just to make sure I knew how sad and needy she was. And I'd comply exactly as she hoped: with a quick scratch behind the ears, a thorough rub on the back, or a swift lift into my arms for a celebratory parade around my 450-square-foot home. This hit parade included, invariably, a pit stop in the bathroom so we could stare at what she took to be the puzzling image of ourselves in the mirror.
Diva also demonstrated her need through the Art of the Paw-Paw. Have you heard of it? Given any textured substance -- and quilts and blankets are her favorite -- Diva fixates for long stretches of time on paw-pawing, or kneading, that substance to a pulp. You can even create a Time of the Paw-Paw by flicking the edge of a blanket on the couch within her direct line of sight. One glance at that flickering blanket and she'll get that old Paw-Paw Glint in her eyes. Then she'll make ready to pounce. Having mastered the jump, nothing else matters but that she fixate on a focal point directly in front of her and begin to push the tiny pink pads of her small front paws into the blanket as though kneading a bowl of dough. Over and over. As though digesting her internal woes on the journal of that blanket, one paw-paw at a time.
It used to be that Diva enjoyed the Art of the Paw-Paw with me. She had her own form of the 5 a.m. wake-up call that included a morning round of paw-pawing my stomach. Just after Solomon had nearly knocked the wind out of me by jumping off of it.
Ah, yes. With Solomon chirping for his fresh lamb-and-rice by the bedside and Diva kneading my stomach to death, they made for quite the early morning team. I sure miss those good old days.