The echoing pitter-patter of raindrops bouncing off the roof brings a rhythmic start to a new day.
It’s a grey day. A wet day. But for the first week of December, a warm day.
Even my cat, Braveheart, seems a little confused by the unseasonably mild weather. Normally meowing for food in the morning, when I awoke to his cries today, I nearly tripped on him on my way to the coffee maker as he sat in front of the back door, impatiently waiting to get outside.
Getting long in the tooth — yet absent nearly of teeth — my senior feline doesn’t ask to go outside as much as he used to. More content to eat and sleep, he’s usually found curled up on top of a shelf, dryer or other place that keeps him safely away from the boundless energy of his juvenile canine sibling.
Always an independent cat, Braveheart came into my home as a stray. I found him when he was just a tiny kitten playing between two parked cars on a busy Toronto street.
With two dogs at home at the time, one a puppy, adopted as company for my other dog who suffered from extreme separation anxiety, and two young children to boot, the last thing I needed was another mouth to feed and more responsibility.
I posted signs in the neighbourhood trying to find Braveheart a good home. No takers. I even brought him to work with me to entice my co-workers, desperate to relieve myself of this unexpected soon-to-be family member. No takers.
Resigned to the fact I couldn’t in good conscience drop him off at an animal shelter, I fooled myself into thinking it was meant to be given he was the same sex and colour as the rest of the four-legged creatures in my home.
After spending his first few weeks fending off my dogs, Jaws and Snoopy, the tiny spitfire of a kitten was christened Braveheart and the rest as they say is history.
My cat is now about 14 years old and has outlived his first set of canine brothers. He wasn’t impressed when I brought Woody home. Braveheart’s eyes glowed with the disdain he felt for the tiny puppy scampering towards him with the grace of a bull in china shop.
I feel bad at times that Braveheart doesn’t get to enjoy his golden years freely roaming the house, asserting his place as king of the castle. Instead he jumps from object to object staying high enough to avoid Woody, who just can’t understand why the kitty doesn’t want to play.
Late at night, however, when the world is quiet and every thing is still, the two animals occasionally enjoy a moment of solidarity, a truce from the dog-chase-cat routine of their lives.
In the mood for affection, or perhaps just too lazy to move, Braveheart will submit to Woody’s initial inquisitive probing with the tip of his nose, which morphs into a mini-bath of the cat’s head and ears. The fragile truce doesn’t last long. Woody will eventually nibble a little too hard as he bathes Braveheart’s ear tips or he will get too assertive with the snout poking.
Braveheart’s decision to leave triggers Woody’s instinct for play, and those magical moments are soon replaced by a mad scramble as the cat makes a break for higher ground, the dog in quick pursuit. Life returns to normal.
Until later ….