It’s been a little more than three years (April 2020), since I first posted this, and perhaps it deserves another airing. Psymon, who entered my life in mid-March 2019, is–without doubt–the smartest, nicest, kindest, best companion and most charming cat I’ve ever known.*** I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘gingers,’ (perhaps it’s because I was once–before anno domini took its inevitable course–one myself) and he fits the bill to a ‘T.’
Psymon (the “P” is silent, as in “psychedelic” and “psittacosis”) is just the most recent of many feline friends to have ingratiated themselves unexpectedly but permanently into my life and heart over the past four decades. I first noticed him during the dead of winter 2018, when I saw him, often accompanied by an all-black cat I’ve named, ummm, “Blackie.” (The “B” is voiced, as in “bafflegab” and “blowsabella,” which, I’m sorry to tell you, isn’t the name of one of Old Possum’s Practical Cats. I completely agree that it should be, though.) I’d see the two cats hanging out in the barn, or running in the snowy woods, and sometimes, worryingly, on the road. All my best efforts to entice them onto the porch for food failed, and I’d resigned myself to the thought that they’d either freeze to death, be run over, or be killed by predators. “Can’t save ’em all,” I’d think to myself in an attempt to bring reason to bear, while I fretted from day to day. Story of my life.
But. One cold day, almost exactly a year ago, I opened the front door and found an orange and white cat waiting for me, glaring intently at the entrance and drumming his paws rather impatiently on the brick patio. The moment he saw me, tail waving high, he marched into the house and has never left.** Proof positive, I suppose, that any cat can be saved, once he decides he wants to be. (I think that’s pretty much the way it works for members of the two-legged species, as well.)
The newly-dubbed “Psymon” spent slightly more than a week in my largest dog crate, stinking up the place with his toxic and overbearing (I’m not being catty about this) masculinity. Phew. Fortunately, a session with my veterinarian “fixed” this odiferous and argumentative problem, and he’s come up nothing but roses and agreeableness ever since. Would that all such problems could be solved so easily. She said. LOL.
My lady cats adore him. Well, with the exception of Fat Alice, AKA “Psycho Cat” (silent “P” again, as in “psalter” and “ptarmigan,” just so you know). She is naturally catawampus about everything, being excessively needy and looming large in all senses, particularly those of self-regard and self-interest; I’m not sure she’ll ever recover her equanimity or let go of her resentment that there’s a new cat in the house. (I’ve thought, every now and then, that she must have browsed through my copy of Who Moved My Cheese one day, and rather missed the point.) But aside from Alice’s occasional outbursts of lèse-majesté, Psymon is king of his indoor forest, and lord of his little harem. This may have something to do with his exotic ginger coloration, or perhaps it’s his devil-may-care demeanor. Either way, the other two girls find him utterly charming.
He’s the smartest, most engaged cat I’ve ever known, and he loves to play. As a result, and for the first time in my life, I’ve bought a number of actual cat toys for him, because it’s worth it, to see him enjoying himself so much. Fabric tunnels. Magnetic “fish.” Corrugated cardboard climbing/scratching trees. He loves them all. Everything’s a toy for him, and, if it’s not, he turns it into one. (Sometimes, when I’m knitting, this isn’t so much fun, at least not for me. I used a photo of Psymon to illustrate this point on a post several months ago.
Mischief, thy middle name is Psymon. In that same vein, and after weeks of wondering who kept taking the lid off the cat food bin so that the dogs could empty it out, I finally solved the mystery!
Levi and Xena love it when he does this because after he’s eaten his fill, they can stick their noses in the bin and finish off whatever is left. Psymon doesn’t mind, because he’s already replete, and he bolts before the dogs move in and make a mess of things, in the way that only giant, hairy dogs with huge paws, floppy ears, and long tails, can. (Slobber everywhere. Cat food all over the floor. The bin and the lid flung far and wide. Other things knocked over. Thunderous crashing about.) By the time I hear the commotion, Psymon is long gone, and Levi and Xena are the ones who get in trouble. Win-win for the cat!
But the two things Psymon loves most are watching TV while sitting on my lap (he likes Animal Planet) and hogging any leftover room in the bed. On the rare nights that he doesn’t secure his place on it before I get there (thoughtfully leaving me a very narrow strip, right on the edge, so it’s easy for me to get in and out), I can almost guarantee that I’ll be woken up sometime in the wee hours, by his throwing himself against the door in an effort to crash his way into the room. Once he’s done that, he quickly elbows his way into the bed. (Since he’s got four elbows, it’s a very unfair fight and it’s pointless to argue with him.) Anyone who’s ever slept with a cat knows how much room they occupy (the Great Pyrenees, on the infrequent occasions that they’re allowed on the bed (right after a bath–theirs, not ours), actually take up far less room than Psymon, even both of them at once), but I find myself unable to resist his importuning or the pathetic yowls which prevent me going back to sleep, and in he comes.
Most recently, he’s developed a taste for climbing up the library ladder in the living room and making his way into the small loft above where he can observe events from the royal box, and where–what he really has his eye on–there are pillows and yarn! It’s only about an eight-foot rise, but the ladder is completely vertical, and he makes quite a meal of his effort. I’ve been trying to collect video of this feat for weeks, and I finally managed it a few days ago when he got himself stuck halfway up, fell off, and then tried again as I hoped he would.
Next up? I’m going to teach him how to fold laundry, and show him how to load the dishwasher.
What special or charming tricks do your beloved pets exhibit?
**Except for a rather faithless and disloyal episode last summer in which he buried himself deep in friend’s RV, with an intent to visit an airshow some distance to the North and West of us. I expect Psymon thought he might like to learn how to fly a plane. (No names, but you know who you are. Cat. Thief.)
***2023 update: In this vein, he’s befriended my late friend’s cat who came to live with me at the end of October, 2022. Like my friend, this cat (Penny) has suffered with cancer for many years. Also like my friend, she’s not giving in without a struggle. She’s rather timid around the other cats, and we weren’t quite sure how things would work out, but Psymon has taken her under his wing–err, umm–paw. I think he’ll really miss her when she’s gone. He is, like Christopher Smart’s Geoffrey, the epitome of gentleness–“For if he meets another cat/He will kiss her with kindness.” And so he has:
P.S.–“Blackie” hasn’t yet succumbed to the inevitable, but shows up regularly on the porch now, for food and drink. He’ll come round. It’s just a matter of time. She persists.
P.P.S.–My granddaughter usually names my creatures. This is how the lambs end up with names like “Adventure” and “Triangle Triangle Fluff,” and the bunnies with names like “Mup” and “Nest.” I have a dog and a (barn) cat which are both named “Levi.” (Their full names are “Little Levi,” and “Big Levi, so we can tell them apart.) She’s very creative. And she likes logic puzzles, puns, and word games.