Saturday, March 1, 2014

Su-Mee at 47 Months

Su-Mee at 47 Months

As readers of this blog may recall, I did an exposé on our pet cat Su-Mee back in November 2012. 

Su-Mee is one of two Siamese cats we own. We had three, but our oldest one, Coco Rose ("Sunshine") died in November last year. Su-Mee and Coco never quite bonded with each other. Coco was already almost 16 when Su-Mee entered the scene, her place as senior member unchallenged. We had gotten Su-Mee, who was born in February 2010 to replace Lottie, who had died of breast cancer the previous January. I think Su-Mee and Lottie would have gotten along famously, but they missed each other like ships passing in the night. From a purely visual standpoint, they looked more alike than any of the other Siamese cats we've owned, both with pointed faces and darkly browned fur. 

Su-Mee has become the dominant figure in our household. He's grown into a substantially large animal, a little like Vanilla, the first Siamese we owned, who died at 19 some years ago. He's long, and would be lean but for his love of his "chocolate crunchies"which he consumes at an alarming rate. No appetite problems with this guy! 

Su-Mee has a facial expression that's slightly "dangerous"-looking. If you didn't know him, you might suspect he's a "difficult" character, but you'd be wrong. He's just a big pussy-cat. He loves to sit on your lap--which is what he's doing in the picture above, on my knees in bed--and in the mornings when I'm at my home computer, he's up on my right shoulder, purring for attention and kisses. He looks almost like a panther, with those deep-set eyes and sharp black snout. 

We had him fixed when he was just a few months old, so we've had none of the complications that arise from an hormonally mature male cat. No spraying, no skanky odors, no unpredictable moods. Su-Mee likes to joust with Mocha, our other male, but it's all innocent play. They never get really angry with each other, the way Mocha used to once in a while with Coco. I suppose it's partly the difference in their ages. They seem like very distinct personalities, Mocha stand-off-ish and private, Su-Mee gregarious and demanding. 

We've deduced that cats raised in "normal households" where there's freedom of movement and lots of touching and human contact, are better as adults than animals raised in strict confinement, which is characteristic of professional breeders' compounds, or public animal shelters. A cat raised in a small cage or room, with little or no contact except with other cats, may be excessively shy or emotionally "isolated" in adult-hood. We hear routinely these days that it's best to adopt animals from shelters, rather than from breeders. From a casual point of view, that makes a lot of sense. Animals left for adoption may be euthanized if not adopted, and there are always plenty available. But if you want an animal suitable for a pet, an animal raised in a loving household will likely be healthier and better socialized than a rescued animal, which may have been abused or neglected, or be suffering from separation anxiety, disorientation, or grief (from an expired owner). It's important to be "wanted" as a pet owner, just as much as you may "want" to own a pet. In the Bay Area, there are a couple of professionally run boarding facilities, where the animals are given play time each day, and not ignored completely. We've used them before, and will certainly do so again. They aren't cheap, but for animals you love and consider a part of your family, it's an expense we bear cheerfully. 

Su-Mee has become a great and dear companion, whom I expect to spend most of my remaining years with, God willing. A famous British publisher, Michael Joseph [18978-1958] was a serious cat fancier, who wrote a couple of juvenile cat titles, as well as Cat's Company [Geoffrey Bles, 1930], and later, Charles: The Story of a Friendship [Michael Joseph, 1943], a non-fiction account of his Siamese cat. The latter book is scarce in its first edition, and now commands prices in the hundreds, if you can even locate one. I once owned a copy, but to my present regret, sold it. 

The intimacy that may become established between a human and a cat is different than that between humans and dogs, or humans and horses. Cats are "domestic" creatures in a way dogs aren't. Dogs must be taken out and walked every day, and they require regular exercise. Cats can live comfortably in a household, and will thrive there, away from the terrors and risks of the outdoors, where they may be hurt or killed, become diseased or mistreated by strangers, or get into a number of difficult situations. Indoor cats are generally better off than outdoor ones, though I wouldn't necessarily insist that this applies uniformly to all individuals. Some indoor/outdoor cats live very peaceable lives, though on average they tend not to live as long. All cats are individuals, which is not always obvious to people who've never owned one. 

All in all, Su-Mee has me well-trained. He's my master, and I'm his slave. He has the perfect arrangement for his comfort and convenience, one I wouldn't dare to violate. It's a mutual thing, with both parties satisfied.         

No comments: