Zora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. Or Something.
So our cat Zora is crazy.
I mean more than normal-cat-crazy. More than just chasing nothing in particular around the house, only to then turn around and be chased around the house by nothing. More than just deciding that on top of a pile of CDs or hanging halfway across the keyboard is the most comfortable place in the house to sleep. More than deciding that 3 am is really the best time to chase each other across the bed. No, no; those behaviors are normal in the cat universe. I mean crazy even for cat standards.
She has behaviors that I think might best be explained by the theory that she's a crack baby, except for the fact that I have trouble visualizing a cat lighting a tiny, feline-sized crack pipe without opposable thumbs.
Zora's twitchy. I was trying to take pictures of the cats the other night, because I was thinking about writing this week's column about them. The camera is a tiny little digital camera (thanks to my father!) and it has no flash, so pictures taken inside are a bit on the grainy side. It doesn't deal so well with movement in low light either, so I was waiting for the cats to sit still for a couple seconds before I took their picture.
It took two minutes to get five or six good shots of Tista. He was in a mellow mood, walking slowly and sitting down for a moment here or there to rest from the labor of cathood.
No such luck with Zora. It took about half an hour to get five decent photos of her, and one of them involved me holding her in place. She jumped on the table, jumped off the table, rolled over herself to scratch the scratching post (which is pretty much her favorite thing in the entire world), got up to look at a bug, jumped in a box, got bopped by Tista and jumped out of the box again, ran underneath the table (where it's way too dark to take a picture), sniffed the vacuum cleaner, ran away from the (peaceful and unplugged) vacuum cleaner, inspected the computer, and so forth.
The only way I could make her settle down was by getting out the flea comb.
Right. The flea comb. Did I mention she's crazy?
Zora loves the flea comb. It mystifies me, it mystifies my boy, The One And Only, and it sure as hell mystifies our vet. When we got our cats from the foster home, they had fleas, so in addition to buying various anti-flea products, I flea-combed them every day for weeks. Then their fleas were gone, and logically enough, I stopped the flea combing.
Zora's got the longest hair of any cat I've ever seen. As soon as the flea combing stopped, the matting started, so I went and got a brush.
Silly me. She hates the brush.
Instead, all I have to do is sit down on the floor and take out that flea comb, and there's Zora, in my lap and purring, pushing her head at the comb. If I pull out a dreadlock, she just purrs harder. The vet's never heard of anything like it.
And then there's her fear of The One And Only.
The One And Only - henceforth, TOAO - is her dad. We were living together before we adopted the cats, so it shouldn't be an issue of jealousy. And sure, when we got her, she was scared of everything. And I mean everything. She spent the first three days hiding behind the books in the bookshelf, sneaking out in the dead of night to get food. A few weeks later, I started a find-and-pet campaign, which involved tracking her down, grabbing her before she could run, and restraining her so she'd hold still while I petted her.
After a week, I'd still have to catch her, but once on my lap, she'd stay. A few weeks later, she'd not only come up to me if I was sitting, but she'd actually come when I called, which, given she's a cat, is just further proof she's certifiable.
Now we've gotten to the point where she only runs away from me when I'm walking, and then only half the time; the other half of the time she throws herself down on the ground and shows me her tummy, which she would like me to rub. No, I have no idea what makes her react which way. Who knows how the neurons fire in that little brain of hers.
But she still runs away from TOAO. He's tried the find-and-pet, never with any continued success. There were moments of détente, when Zora would come over to him, but largely, she avoids him. (I've suggested he rub himself in tuna, but he points out that projectile vomiting would probably scare her off.)
Not that TOAO is the only one she's afraid of. Those friends who've actually seen her live and in person have rarely seen more than a brown blur rushing from kitchen to bedroom at what is a remarkable speed given that she is pressed close enough to the floor to get rugburn on her belly.
Now, mind you, don't confuse this behavior with wimpiness. Because this is the same cat who, if there's a strange cat outside, will actually bust through the screen door to throw herself on said cat in an angry puff of fur, without a second thought. The other day she threw herself at a window - a closed window, and not a particularly clean one either, so it's not as if she didn't know it was there - because she was trying to get to the cat outside.
Of course, as soon as the other cat runs the hell away, Zora cringes in a corner of the carport because the world outside is just so... big.
Her other favorite hobby is ripping paper to shreds. Yes, I have a cat who would, if given the chance, actually eat my homework. And with a roll of paper towels, she's in heaven, and the floor is full of shredded tissue.
To see her throw herself at the scratching post with utter abandon, of course, you'd never guess any of this.
A friend told me today that her cat had mellowed substantially around about age two; Zora's a year and change at the moment, so that made me hopeful. On the other hand, I'm not sure how much I want her to change.
Yeah, less running away would
definitely be nice. Her making friends with TOAO would thrill me. But
on the other hand, I'd miss hearing that little "bonk" that
tells us that there's a cat outside and we remembered to lock the screen
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