It’s been more than a week since Imp disappeared. I’ve lost hope. Even if she was lured away from a loving home by a visiting tomcat, Imp is or was the sort of kitten nobody ever wants to report having found. All kittens have cute faces and plenty of kittens have fluffier fur, but Imp was born a pet and spent her whole life working out ways to call attention to herself as being cuter than her four (social, adorable, thoroughly spoiled) co-mothers. Which took some doing. The world is full of kittens who just sit, or sometimes bounce, around looking cute. Imp seemed to put real energy and intelligence into acting cute, as well. She was The. Cutest. Kitten. Ever. Anybody who found her would have kept her.
Imp has been missed and mourned, especially by her surviving brothers, Tickle and Elmo. (Elmo is “red”; Tickle is white with buff spots; when they were little they used to grab and tickle my feet, and since the whole litter was an April Fool joke they seemed to need silly names, and those were the names to which they answered.)
The little guys are tame, all right, but they’re not pets. They’ve always known that they weren’t residents, and they’ve not put any special effort into telling me they wanted to be residents, either. Since they’ve not bonded with me I can’t really assess their communication skills, but they do (a) know their names (they don’t come when called, but they listen when their names are called and sneer if they’re called by other names), and (b) know the survival benefits of belonging to a family.
Some cats aren’t cuddly, especially when they’re four months old. That category did not include Imp but it does include her brothers. Occasionally Elmo watches wistfully when the resident cats are being combed and petted, but one stroke is enough for him or Tickle. They’d rather bounce about and chase things. For now, anyway. Their mother was not a cuddly kitten but she’s grown up to be an affectionate cat.
Neither of them looks Siamese but that’s what their father was, and both of them have their mother’s “Hemingway” gene. Each has only the standard set of five separate toes, but the “thumb” toes are big and have double claws.
Meanwhile, Sisawat has found her niche in the resident social cat family. Social cats work as a team; each of the three older cats has a specialty. Heather is the hunter, Irene is the homebody, and Ivy is the communicator. Sisawat does the same things her mother and aunts do, not quite so well.
Sisawat, as regular readers remember, was the kitten who was born with Siamese color points. Cats who grow up with the Siamese look are born a dingy white color, so the question was whether Sisawat would keep any trace of color points when she grew up, and the answer was no. She still has the classic Siamese build, voice, and temperament, but she’s just an ordinary smoky-grey or “blue” cat. She didn’t bond with me; I kept her around, first as a playmate for Gwai, and then because nobody seemed eager to adopt a cat with a Siamese temper and an ordinary look.
Like her great-grandmother Bisquit, Sisawat suffers by comparison. She’s a perfectly nice cat, usually friendly, usually well behaved, and her performance as a loving older sister went far beyond the call of duty; she just lives with other cats who are even more adorable. I like her. I feed her. I pet her. I just haven’t found much to say about her…except that she’s Imp’s, Tickle’s, and Elmo’s full sister, about a year older, and she’s avoided pregnancy this year and given herself time to grow up by inducing lactation and feeding her siblings.
Now, however, I can report that Sisawat has found something she can do that the others don’t do. She counts! She’s one of your slow-growing Siamese-type cats and has only recently found that, when she props her paws up on the rim of the bin where I store kibble, and I bend over the bin, she can reach up and kiss me, nose tip to nose tip. So she’s started doing this. She allows me to pet her strictly as a reward for behavior she wants to encourage, and she kisses and rubs against me for each cat meal I scoop out of the bin up to number six. She doesn’t seem to mind letting the others eat first. She seems to think she’s making sure I scoop out enough for everybody.
I scoop out the same amount of food whether Sisawat goes through this performance or not. Whether she or the other cats think she’s making a real contribution to their family life, I don’t know. I know she seems pleased to have found her own special job to do, and has been doing it daily.