I can’t really pinpoint when the rift began, but I could definitely feel it all of last year. I suppose, if pressed, I would say that it started when we brought home King Boo. That’s when I would say BK got angry with me.
She’s always been Ian’s cat, more or less. When we first adopted her, she depended on both of us. I was her mom, he was her dad. But as she grew into a teen and then an adult, dependence turned into tolerance and she doled out affection like a reward, as most cats do. She’s now planted herself firmly into crabby old lady territory, where she will kiss you one day and swish her claws the next. It’s a gamble. She’s still sweet, but it’s balanced with salty.
I am not sure how to refer to our trouble, BK and I. She started sitting with me less. She had always slept on Ian’s pillow, but often she would wedge herself between us and sometimes lay next to me. That waned, and she would hardly deign to let me pet her. You’d think Gordo moving himself to the upstairs floor of the house would have been a clue, but I just assumed she was doing that thing cats do. Where they change their minds. Get moody.
But now I am almost certain that she was upset with me for bringing home King Boo. She was the baby kitty. She was the young’un. And then we brought home something that required her to confront the truth that she was no longer the youngest being in the family. Maybe she became aware of her own mortality, the way we all do when we hit middle age. And despite Ian and I both bringing King Boo home, she knew he was my baby. My cat. And so she started pulling away.
When we moved, I carried all of the cats in my car. I sweet-talked to her the whole ride here. When she was afraid to leave her carrier once it was in the apartment, even after Gordo spent time sitting with her, I sat on the floor and spoke in a calm voice. I told her she was safe. I smelled like home.
She was so mad at us for moving her out of her house. The house she was supposed to guard. She spent every day in bed for a month, and because I work from home, I spent some time every day with her as she lay in that bed. I pet her. I told her she was safe. I made sure I got her favorite toys and played with her.
Eventually, she started to get up out of the bed more. She still laid with Ian more often, but on weekdays she started coming out of the bedroom and finding me at my desk. She would nuzzle her head into my hand and purr. She would bring toy mice to me.
A month or so ago, I bought this giant cat condo that we call the Treehouse. I bought it for BK and King Boo because they like to be up high and climb on things, respectively. King Boo took to it immediately, scaling it using only his nails on the scratching ropes, but BK couldn’t figure out the ladder. Ian tried lifting her up onto it, but she couldn’t figure out how to get down so she would jump nearly six feet onto the hard, concrete floor. I winced a few times watching her. She rarely used it, and I can’t say I blame her.
But then I had an idea. I brought one of our kitchen chairs over next to the Treehouse and set her up at the top. Sure enough, she jumped down to the chair and then to the floor. And I guess once she realized she had a safe way down, she felt it was OK to use the ladder to get up. She stopped sleeping in the bed all day and began perching herself atop the Treehouse, where she could keep an eye on me or look outside over the traffic.
One day as I was driving to Nashville for work, Ian texted me a picture of BK and King Boo in the Treehouse together. Considering how previously she couldn’t be within three feet of him without growling or lashing out, this was incredible. I assumed it was a one-time thing, but I soon noticed her up there with him every day. For hours on end, they will nap next to each other in the Treehouse. I’ve caught her grooming him as he sleeps a few times.
And then, a strange thing happened.
I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I was spooning her. She did the same thing the next night, and has done it every night since then. At some point in the middle of the night, she wakes me up by licking my nose and paws at me until I lay the right way and spoon her, both of our heads on the pillow as she makes biscuits in the palm of my hand and falls asleep.
During the day, now, she sleeps in the Treehouse but will come down to check up on me. She will sit by me on the couch sometimes. The rift I felt before seems to have faded. I have to wonder if it’s because she finally stopped hating King Boo and doesn’t have to blame me for his annoying existence anymore. Or maybe it’s because we, as a family, moved to a new place and she realized that everything is temporary and she shouldn’t take her family for granted.
I can’t talk to her to figure out what she has been thinking, obviously. But if it’s possible to have, lose and then repair a friendship with a cat, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.