Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lily-Lou:Who's on First

There is no question about who is on first at my house. Lily has seniority as well as the personality to make sure everyone knows it clearly. It is kind of surprising because she spent most of the first years of her life under a bed. Not even counting the fact that I rescued her and her twin sister Calla from under a bush.
So what I want to tell you about Lily is that she has changed. She is the one in charge but even more amazing is that she has become a lap cat. She finds my lap wherever it is, on a chair in front of a computer, on the sofa in front of the T.V., on my bed while reading. Even as I try to savor my coffee before getting started on my daily activities, she helps me dawdle for a few more minutes.
I rescued Lily with her twin sister Calla from under a bush in Northglen when I kept my horse, Teddy Bear, at a boarding stable. I had to drag them out.They had been born in the barn but their feral mom moved them under the bush after she had been disturbed somehow.
Calla and Lily were sisters in behavior as well as looks. They both exhibited feral behavior for a long time, running from everyone except me. The best thing I did when I first got them was sleep with them. I put them under the covers with me, one in front of my knees and one behind and they slept that way for at least the first week or two. To this day Lily finds her way under the covers most every night. When she jumps up I feel the bed shake, then a ‘paw, paw, paw’ while she tries to pull the covers open so she can slide in and curl up. She is not there in the morning so I don’t know how long she actually puts up with my tossing and turning but she always starts out there.
Their history included relentless running and hiding under my bed when anyone else came near, sitting on my lap (when they were small enough) to watch the mouse (on the computer), their tails and heads moving in tandem, curling their tails around each other as I got their food ready, taking their time welcoming me home when I was gone on a trip, ignoring me for at least a day when I returned. As they got older Calla became a door dasher. Lily never did. Then one day after we moved Calla slipped out and never came back. It took Lily a long time to get over it. She spent most of her time the following months grieving under the bed.
Later, after we had been in our current house for a while two kittens came to be our barn cats. But since they came at the end of November I brought them into the house to keep them warm at night. Somehow they just became house cats instead. I though that adding the two adopted barn cats to the house would be something she would like. But I was wrong, even after a week of meeting them under the doors she was not ready to welcome anybody else into her private domain.
As time went by and the kittens grew even bigger than she was she continued to hiss and growl and even chase them, especially if one of them found their way to the bed. For a long time it was like they didn’t know they were bigger than Lily.
As they say, time heals and they all had to interact.They started getting used to each other. One of the barn cats, Taffy, my big orange tabby got so she was totally not intimidated. In fact, she would lie in the doorway and when Lily went buy, out would go a paw, like “so there! I got ya”
So, Lily she has changed. Now, when I come home after I have been gone a while she welcomes me home, she follows me around the house, meows loudly at me when she wants something, comes when I call her. She likes her new name. I now call her Lily-Lou. It just grew because I named the barn cats Taffy-ta and Cookie dough.
She continues to have a hard time with jealousy. When she takes a swat and hisses at one of the other two cats I clap my hands and say “No!” in a loud voice. I pick up the offended cat to calm them and sometimes put Lily by herself in the bathroom for a while. I know she knows it is not acceptable behavior. I do have to say she has been doing it less and less. One of the other things I have done that has helped is to give her an extra session of petting, using short strokes similar to the way her mother licked her when she was a kitten. You can’t allow an aggressive cat to beat up on other cats. They can learn, but you also can give them more special moments for a while too. That probably helps most.
She is a now a very healthy, elegant 11 year old tuxedo cat. She poses, lies in the sun and is able to ignore Taffy and Cookie most of the time. For a long time when she jumped up on my lap she would raise her tail toward me and lie down. I started turning her around, looked in her eyes and told her I wanted to see her pretty face. She now lies down facing me. Sometimes when I am working on my computer with her on my lap I’ll look down at her and see that she is actually gazing at me with a look of total adoration. And I know she is happy.