Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dexter the Cat

They say all cats have nine lives...I think it may be possible that my cat has a few extra. Why would I suggest that notion, you may ask?

It was just after my divorce, and having grown up with cats, I felt the need to have a cat by my side during that difficult time. So off to the animal shelter I went--incidentally, it was right around Halloween, so there was an inordinate amount of black cats available which I thought was a little strange, yet how perfect because that’s exactly what I was looking for. I found him in amongst all the weirded-out, fur-missing, eye-scratching bunch--a somewhat docile, one and a half year old black rag-doll who immediately head-butted me with affection. His tag said his name was Shadow and that he was chatty--but he didn’t make a sound. After a bit of paperwork and a payment on VISA, I packed him into the car--where he “chatted” all the way home. Fortunately for him, the chattiness stopped when we arrived at my place, and he was known as Dexter thereafter.

I’ve always thought Dexter was very special from the start, and he has managed to prove it over and over. One of the first “incidents” was him thinking that the metal rail on the deck of my 4th floor condo was wood--so one day, over he went, and thankfully landed on my first floor neighbour’s patio table, with a barking dog next to it. She brought him upstairs and he was as stiff as a board, with a kind of Pet Semetary look in his eye, but still all in one piece. You can still see the scratch marks on my railing. Being a rag-doll, he tends to have many dog-like qualities, such as hiding and burying things (like my Betsey Johnson rings)--I can’t imagine what I will find when I sell my place some day. He learned how to pull the leaver door handles in my place--this was discovered one night when he was banished to my bedroom due to a friend’s allergy, and we all freaked out when we saw the door being opened from the inside.

His insatiable appetite has been the cause of a many laughs. My friend and her teenage troop came over one night to watch scary movies. It was a particularly quiet part in the movie, and no one was moving, yet we could hear crunching sounds--it wasn’t Freddy coming to get us, rather it was Dexter with his head in a bowl of chips. He has lit himself on fire many times without even realizing it--apparently his hope of gaining food somehow far outweighs keeping the fur on his body. He has tried numerous times to catch birds on my deck, but feels that just looking at them obsessively from a distance will do the trick. I have literally, to no avail, tried to show him the fish in my pond so he can see the potential food swimming around in there but he continues to not recognize them as such, perhaps seeing that the effort to catch them is just too great.

In an attempt to prove me wrong that he is a bit on the not-so-bright side, Dexter actually was successful in learning how to use the toilet like a human (see photo insert). Three months of training, along with my friends and family having to put up with, in disgust I might add, removing a stainless bowl full of cat litter in the toilet between the bowl and the seat whenever they came over, and it was done. I always stare at people in disbelief when they ask “That’s great that he uses the toilet, but does he flush?” I also find it awkward when I accidentally walk in on him using the facilities--I feel the need to apologize and then slowly back away and close the door so he can have a little privacy as he gives me a very weird, embarrassed sort of look. There are also clear signs that he is trying to get things moving, so to speak, when he starts tearing around my condo at lightening speed--then

I hear him get up on the toilet, and it all makes sense.

I still maintain that he is trying to kill me each and every day--the weaving between my legs as I walk, the evil staring, and sitting over my air passageways as I sleep at night--it’s all to get rid of me so he can have the place to himself. I have a friend in Kelowna who expects that Dexter has his poker-playing cat buddies over during the day while I’m at work. You can actually see the look of disgust on his face if I’m home unexpectedly--it’s as if his plans have been thwarted and he has the right to revenge.

All in all, I love my little furry buddy. Ok, he’s not so little and furry is an understatement. I still say that everyone who has ever eaten at my home has ingested at least a small amount of Dexter’s fur--it’s even come on trips with me. Just to give you an idea of Dexter’s size, the veterinarian's office has a chart from 1 to 10, from light to heavy. Three years ago, Dexter was a 7--”Some jiggling when walking”. Two years ago, he was an 8--”Noticeable folds that sway to and fro while moving.” I’m pretty sure we’re holding at an 8 still.

Dexter will be 12 in May, and not one day goes by where I have any regrets taking him home on that fateful day. He has been a true source of comfort, enjoyment, and unconditional love to me. The question is, what would he say about me?

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