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As I descend into crazy cat person …

Wednesday, 3 June, 2009

To be honest, Bob might be too energetic for me. I know things about him which would have frightened me away, and I am therefore pleased I did not know these things.

At this point I have quite a lot of energy vested in the name of my familiar. I did not name him. I use the name issued to him by the shelter. However, other names have crossed my mind as I get to know him.

  • Daniel Striped Tiger, after the character from Fred Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make Believe. This would date quickly as he was small and brave in his early days, but he will not be small much longer. He is the most polite cat I have ever known. Among other things, he closes the door when he uses the bathroom-placed sandbox and cannot always open it again. He is currently teething and wants to nibble on my arms, but looks up and has second thoughts about it.
  • Hobbes, which is of course from Bill Watterson’s landmark daily comic Calvin and Hobbes. Hobbes is the one seen as silent and quite plain to the outside world, but in the eyes of his naive keeper he is wise and strong. This also plays on the “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” business.
  • Rags, aka Ragland T. Tiger, the faithful companion of Crusader Rabbit with whom I am insufficiently familiar but I like the name and implications of adventure.

I’m sticking with Bob. He seems to know that I’m talking to him when I use that syllable, although shows no particular inclination to come over. If he were eligible for registration (I’m not really the kind of person to do that anyway) he would be registered as Roberto Regalo Tejano de San Francisco. Roberto, a gift of Texas from St. Francis of Assisi. The first white settlement around here was the mission of San Francisco, so that adds something to it.

My new roommate and I just came in from the rain. This is my first experience with wet Bob. He smells not unlike the big cat enclosure at the zoo, and decidedly different than a mundane house cat. This may be the final clue.

I was introduced to the situation by one of the techs at the vet’s office. It is part of the service when you go to the vet, for someone to walk in and make a fuss over your critter. The technician (nurse?) made a fuss over my Bob saying, “Look at those stripes and those beautiful colors. He must be part Bengal.”  I didn’t know what Bengal meant at the time.

Bengals are a specialty breed. Specifically a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat and a “dish” or DSH, domestic shorthair. The wild cat’s generics predominate. These cats have distinctive coloring, and are especially clever. Humans who live with Bengals typically do not return to the company of mere house cats. Typically Bengals are bred with other Bengals. The general public are allowed to own “F3” Bengals, or those from the third generation following the cross. Occasionally a Bengal gets loose and breeds with a common DSH. In these animals, the wild genes predominate as well. They tend toward a distinctive coat which is both banded and spotted, tend toward vocalization and have an uncanny ability to comprehend human commands absent in both DSH and true Bengals. The smallest of these animals are 10 lb. as adults, and can grow to around 20 lb of lean body. They do not tend to territoriality and if allowed out of the house will invariably get lost and depopulate an entire zip code of birds and rodents in short order. This may be why formerly wild, lost or abandoned Bob eschews all fish and wants fresh poultry and mammal, or something which smells like it.

Poking around this infernal machine with Bob on my lap and in my mind, I discovered the phrase “Brown Mackerel Tabby” which specifically describes his coat. This now seems insufficient. Further, after viewing some videos of Bengals and halves on Youtube, I realize they look pretty much like my Bob, especially the shape of the face, distinctive striping and size. Although physically smaller than this implies, the bathroom-scale method implies that he is about 10 lbs. at not quite 7 months old. These animals bore easily and can be trained to do tricks or to walk on a lead more readily than common cats. The experts recommend that you train, because these animals appreciate the challenge and may grow surly without stimulation.

When wet he smells more like a big cat than a house cat. As Bengals and halves allegedly are, Bob is very charming and leaves an excellent first impression. Bob somehow worked out how to unbuckle his collar and twice I’ve caught him running around naked. Even more so than dogs, they tend to bond with one person. Some half-Bengals like water. Bob would not be among them. Bob bores easily and annoyingly curious. He is particularly big for his age and knows his name. His coat is distinctive. It is soft, slightly oily and very, very dense. Topical application of medicine is somewhat difficult. I have read that he produces less dander, or the allergic factor, than common cats.

I am now totally convinced I live with a semi-exotic cat. I know of no way to independently confirm this.

This means I have to give him excessive amounts of affection and attention. This comes quite easily. I also have to teach him stuff. Among the things useful to teach a half-Bengal is to walk on a lead. Bengals and halves tend to figure out how to get out of almost any sort of harness typically used for this purpose. A “cat walking jacket” and the recommended six-foot leash is shipping to me as I type. Bob is curious about outside and we have ventured out a few times, but only to wander around the balcony for mere minutes. For the first couple of weeks, he really did not want anything to do with outside. It is entirely possible that he had had quite enough of outside. I hope the leash and jacket make things a bit better. I aspire to take Bob to a park or even walk dog-like around the neighborhood. I keep reading tutorials about how to train him to walk along with me instead of wandering around as cats do. Remember, like a dog, the training is stimulating to him.

Because of my ongoing paranoia, and the advice of every expert with which I have consulted, Bob shall remain a predominantly indoor cat. However, with an eye toward the inevitable he is started on an anti-flea, heartworm, &c. regimen and I intend to keep this up until he loses interest in going out entirely.

I have to get a collar less likely to be finagled away. The present one is blue which does not flatter his coat. He has worn this collar through his healing period. The collar covers a large patch where the fur is only now filling in. It itches. Scratching is not good for a nylon break-away collar. I have found a truly attractive leather collar via Internet which I really want for him. However, it is a handmade $45 item. When I tell you I went ahead and purchased it, please come over and slap me around a little. (But just a little.)

For the record, Bob’s new collar shall carry his stainless-steel HomeAgain (the chip) tag, his very official looking rabies vaccination tag and a St. Francis of Assisi medallion which is engraved with his name and my number on the back. I looked into this, and it isn’t sacrilegious.

Yes, this is all a bit much, but I’m going with it.

  1. Brian permalink
    Wednesday, 16 December, 2009 3:41

    Just ran across this and was curious if you located a leather collar yet? The wife of the old man that runs the feed store I get livestock food at does very nice leather work….Would be a nice gift for bob, possibly?


    • Wednesday, 16 December, 2009 4:01

      I appreciate the recommendation, but my ideas about cat collars have changed. Bob is losing collars regularly. He’s on his fourth. Because of a cat’s inclination to wander among branches, over and under fences, and so forth, a break-away collar is recommended by every notable authority on the matter.

      The hippy-dippy pet shop where I get his dry feed carries “all natural soy fiber” collars which I like because they don’t have little pictures of fish on them, and they make a tag while you wait. If I’m paying every couple of months for a collar and tag, I should probably avoid quality leather work.


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