Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meeting Seamus

Marcie was keen to pay attention to my memories and try to heal me where she could, as I mentioned in previous posts. Seamus is a living example of this trait of hers. When we first moved in together in early 1994, I commented that I missed having a cat.

I had had only one cat of my own. Garfield, named so by my little sister Virginia, was a beautiful part-Siamese, part Burmese with grey-striped points. He was tall and strong, and I got him from a newspaper delivery customer when I was 13. He was like a dog in a lot of ways.

Garfield came to his name being called, and usually with a loud, very Siamese "Miaaaaaaooooowwwww" as he walked, letting me know he was on his way. He would leap onto me when he got into range, into my arms, and either curl onto his back or hang his paws over my shoulder. He simply trusted and loved me absolutely, and I loved him too.

He was amazing.

His life was not ideal. I was not allowed to let him inside. Nonetheless, I sometimes snuck him in through my window when it was frosty or dangerous outside, often getting caught and punished for the effort. His beautiful long fur was always needing brushing and flea control. I tended to it with joy.

When I entered foster care, at 15, I had to leave him behind. I do not know what happened to him. I have been told he ran away by some. By others, I was told that, in a spiteful fit, an uncle drove him onto the freeway and dumped him there. Still another claimed he was sent to my grandfather's ranch but died there. I do not know which is truth, but they have all hurt very badly over the years to contemplate.

Marcie knew how much this wound still sat with me some eight years later. She noted and enjoyed how much I bonded with little Samantha, her family's cat. So, on my first birthday with her (actually a bit before), she decided to conspire with her mother for a very special gift.

When we took Seamus in, he could sit in my palm and clean himself, which he did. He also like to perch on my head, then sleep at Marcie's, his paws and belly straddling her, a furry little insulator.

He was also a little fervid ball of furious fur. He was bright and loved to play fetch, and battled endlessly with his ultimate enemy, a vase full of peacock feathers. Marcie fought with him for her right to decorate, and he advocated heartily for her continued replacement of the savaged plumes. His other apparent enemy was the foe of all kittens: the villainous moving feet of humans under bedclothes. He dispatched them with aplomb regularly for almost a year.

In his kittenhood, Seamus also had a fixation. Socks were collected and secreted into unknown places, never to be seen again.. No sock was safe from his collecting habit. Many a time I wondered where my socks had gone just moments after removing them. For months, the mystery continued.

One night, I removed my socks and left them on my shoes. As I began to tune into the X-files, I saw a little paw snake out from under the coffee table and snag on, dragging it away. Seamus trotted rapidly by with the purloined hosiery in his teeth. With a rustle behind the television styand, he was gone. I peered behind the stand, and no sign of him was visible.

Then, a little pink-brown nose peeked out from the small circular hole in the back of the stand cut for cords by the manufacturer. I wondered how he fit through, then suddenly he burst out from the back of the stand, pushing the flimsy panel open and racing off to some priority destination in another part of the apartment.

I opened the rarely seen interior of the stand and gazed upon a fetid lair lined in socks and a variety of catnip mice (referred to as 'catnip mousies' in Seamish). Here, then, was the mystery unraveled. I removed the most needed socks, my own stock of them being somewhat low, and left the rest, sharing my discovery with Marcie.

Seamus looked on nervously as we sifted through them, and yowled agitatedly as we collected a few for more appropriate use. As soon as we moved on, he crammed himself noisily into the back of the stand and rustled about. We did not see him until bed time.

"You put all those in there for him, didn't you?" Marcie asked. "I mean, it looks like it was all arranged in there like a bed for him."

The socks were three inches deep when I opened the door. It looked designed, not the casual and random collection of footcoverings one might expect of a cat. I was, however, innocent and as bewildered as she was.

"No, honey," I said. "We just have to face the reality that our cat is not only a little crazy, he's also a foot fetishist."

And as it turns out, he had more strange habits and practices to share.

For the moment, we had discovered the first unique item of personality in our new family member. But more importantly, he and Marcie developed a deep and special bond of their own over time that mirrored our own relationship closely, a subject for another post.