Saturday, January 29, 2011

Aidan Learns a Lesson

Aidan mashed himself more firmly against my side, the bed shaking from the power of his snores. He had his chin nestled cozily into my pillow and was breathing his foul breath all over me. On my other side, down past my knees, Rex has settled himself, all 17 lbs, solidly across my shins and was dozing happily. On the other side of the bed, Davey was having the best sleep of his life. I, on the other hand, was stiff and achey from trying not to roll atop and subsequently squash one of the little pets as I slept. My instinct for preserving the 3-dimensionality of smaller beasts is strong, so I'd spent most of the night waking up to reposition myself as comfortably as I could between two sworn enemies who wanted to rest their weary bodies on mine. I was too happy that my dream of having all four of us on the bed had come true to give into my longing to fling the cat and pug to the floor and commence ruining Davey's slumber with my bed hogging and sleep sprawling. I strongly suspect that the reason Davey had been encouraging Aidan to sleep between us was because small animals are the only known objects able to emit a force field powerful enough to keep me from migrating to the center of the bed and throwing my leg across Davey as he tried to sleep.

When I got up in the morning, creaking and ornery, I began to wonder how long the pets' tentative truce would last for. Aidan had come back from his sleepover at Grandma's the evening before, and, to my surprise, both boys behaved with utmost gentility towards the other. I knew it couldn't go on much longer, but oh how I hoped it would.

I watched them carefully as they started their mornings. Rex seemed oddly at ease despite Aidan's presence and Aidan seemed unperturbed by the threat Rex posed to Aidan's self-proclaimed status of #1 Cutie.

"What is going to snap this fantasy back to reality?" I mused, watching Rex peruse the carpet for intriguing odors. The answer came more quickly than I expected when I heard the click of toenails on tile and the jingle of dog tags as Aidan came trundling down the hallway after being forced, once again, to watch his Davey abandon him. Who knew when he would come back? Nobody. He could be gone forever.

Rex looked up, startled by Aidan's appearance. He had been far too absorbed in smelling the floor to pay much attention to his surroundings. Aidan grunted and snorted. "My Daddy is gone."

"That noise is too distracting," Rex mumbled to himself as he moved past Aidan to go out the door and smell the carpet in the living room.

"I"M GONNA CHASE YOU!" bellowed Aidan, leaping after him ecstatically.

"No thanks!" Rex bolted down the hallway.

"Dang it," I swore, jumping up. "Aidan! No! Bad! Bad chase!" I followed the little hooligan down the hall. Aidan took one look at my displeased frown and his elated, cat-chasing smooth brow crinkled and folded in on itself. When Aidan is happy, he still has a few puggish wrinkles around his nose and forehead. As soon as his mood turns south, however, his whole face collapses into a miserable walnut. It was with this walnut face that he scrambled onto the couch, looking contrite. For some reason, Aidan seems more cute when he is sad on furniture than on the ground, which he frequently uses to his advantage. I glared daggers of imminent discipline at him, unassuaged by his clever furniture ploy. I was about to lay down the law.

Normally Davey is the one who reprimands Aidan for misbehavior and it goes something like this.

Aidan chases Rex. Davey grabs him by the chin, makes him look into his eyes, and says sternly, "Don't chase that cat." Aidan blinks and pouts. Davey bursts into a flurry of adoring chuckles and throws his arms around Aidan. "Oh my God! You're so adorable!!!" he gushes. "I love you thiiiiiiiiiiiis much." He then showers Aidan with kisses and gives him his favorite toy to play with.

I was not going to be so easily swayed. I grabbed Aidan's chin like Davey would and said sharply, "Bad. Do not chase my cat. Bad. Bad chase, Aidan. Bad." He tried to look away but I kept a firm grip for an extra moment to make sure he realized I was serious about the severity of my displeasure. When I released him he blinked and pouted in a way designed to be heart-rending.

"Yeah right," I said. "You're in trouble. I'm not talking to you." I turned my back on him and went into the kitchen to boil water for tea. Aidan followed me.

"Can I have some salami or toast?" he ventured.

I ignored him.


Aidan stared at me, dismayed.

"Kariana, why are you ignoring me? Kar Kar?"

I shot him a dirty look and went back to what I was doing. Aidan blanched, his eyes growing larger.

The front door opened and Davey walked in. He had stopped by to pick up something he needed for work. Aidan glanced at the door. He normally went crazy with happiness when Davey returned home, but there were more pressing matters at hand. He hovered anxiously at my feet. "Kariana? Remember that you like me because I'm a good boy?" he entreated.

Davey frowned at the scene before him. "What's wrong with my dog?" he demanded, concerned.

"I'm punishing him," I said. "He chased my cat and now I'm giving him the silent treatment. He hates it."

Aidan added a few new wrinkles to the walnut.

"Please say, 'Hi Aidan" and pet me," he begged. 

Davey laughed, completely smitten by Aidan's adorable sorrow. I wandered into the living room to complain about my back, taking a seat on the couch. Persistent Aidan, seeing his opening, charged after me, leaping onto the couch and flopping down with his chin on my thigh before I could stop him. "I really like you and want you to like me," he whispered, sadly. "I'm sorry I made you mad."

Satisfied that my objective had been reached, I gave him a hug. It had been hard to be so mean to him when he was just a silly, insecure little dog, but I knew it was for his own good. He settled against me, relieved that he was back in my good graces, not knowing that he had never been out of them in the first place.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rex's New Best Friend or " Catnip Bubbles Won't Make Your Cat Love You"

Aidan and I arrived back home feeling pretty tired after our shopping trip. Aidan wandered into the house, panting and grunting as I shut the door behind us. Aidan had a nice new sweatshirt that would turn out to be the only item of clothing in his figurative closet that he didn't like wearing. I had gotten Rex something, too. I unloaded his presents from the bag. I put the scratching post next to the furniture he liked to dig his claws into and then excitedly pulled out the piece de resistance. Catnip bubbles. Even though my cat had been icily presenting his shoulder to me, I had a good feeling about the bubbles being a way to get him to play with me again. Rex has turned his nose up at catnip in the past, but one of the many men living in my house told me he had been going nuts for it the other day and I thought maybe I had been wrong about his disinterest in doing feline drugs, so when I saw the bubbles with their promises of human-cat bonding printed right on the label along with the low low price of $3.99, I knew I had to try them with Rex.

I don't know what I thought the outcome was going to be, but I expected it might be something like Rex having a fantastic time popping the bubbles while I laughed indulgently at his antics. Somehow, our fun game would make Rex decide that he was no longer distrustful of the dog, and they would become best friends because they actually have a lot in common. Then, Rex would actually spend time with me and sleep on my bed. He'd spent the past couple of weeks slowly and pointedly replacing me with my father-in-law.

"I'm his new best friend!" my father-in-law liked to announce as I stared morosely at my cruel pet, who was busy pretending not to see me. I had tried and failed to shrug off the fear that Rex really had replaced me with some man he barely knew. If I didn't do something I was never going to see my cat again. These catnip bubbles were my only hope. I had a feeling like my four dollar gamble was going to work.

My mind full of foolish notions, I went to find the boy. He was curled up, as usual, on my father-in-law's bed and not mine. I peeked through the cracked door. "Hey, Rex," I said ingratiatingly, "Come out here and let me pet you." I was disgusted with how needy I was being.

"He doesn't want to!" said my father-in-law, opening the door and startling me with his prescence. I hadn't known he was home, much less in his room "He wants to hang out in here with me because I'm his best friend."

I looked at Rex, entreating him to get his ass off the bed and come rub against my shin at least. He shrugged dispassionately.

"Rex?" I asked.

My father-in-law threw himself onto the bed next to my cat. "Yeah, you wanna stay in here with me, huh?" he asked, scratching my cat behind the ears.

Rex beamed at Big Dave. "Uh-huh! I like this bed and the no dog and your fluffy white robe best!" He didn't even glance at me to see the damage his dis had wrought upon my fragile emotions. That's how little he cared.

"Oh, okay," I said softly, trying to save face. "Well, I got Rex these catnip bubbles to play with but I guess he doesn't really want to come out and see me, so I'll just leave them here by the dog food so you can play with them with him..."

"Okay," said Big Dave, too immersed in petting my cat to pay much attention to anything else. I turned away, gently placing the bubbles next to Aidan's giant bag of kibble, and then hurrying into my bedroom so I could stare at the ceiling and come to terms with the fact that I was going to always be alone.

"Hi!" Aidan and Davey chorused as I came into the room and perched on the edge of the bed dismally.

"Look at me watching video games!" Aidan burbled from Davey's lap.

"I like you," said Davey kindly, before returning to his important business on DC Online.

I'll always be alone, I moped, willfully ignoring the fact that I was married and had three brothers in addition to parents and in-laws, among other relatives. Seeing that I had started setting out bowls of chips for my pity party, Davey spun his chair away from the game at a good stopping spot and demanded that I know Rex loved me.

"Go try those bubbles," he said, convincingly. I nodded and wandered into the kitchen, fumbling to retrieve the bubble wand from the pungent bubble solution.

"What's that?" asked Rex curiously from the armchair. I sat on the floor.

"Come here, check these out," I said, holding the bubble wand up in front of my face. Rex leaped to the ground and crouched at a safe distance to evaluate the threat level of what I was holding.

"What are those? Smells like drugs," he said.

I carefully blew a bubble.

"Oh shit!" Rex lurched backwards, staring at the bubble with fear. It landed on the carpet and didn't pop. I blew another one. Rex stiffened, trying to keep an eye on the one in the air and the one on the ground simultaneously. "I don't like those guys," he said.

They did look like cheap sci-fi representations of hyper-evolved life forms, but I didn't expect Rex, as a cat, to make that connection. He obviously found something else about them terrifying beyond words. I tried blowing a few more bubbles, hoping that he would realize after six of them were caught quivering in the carpet that they were actually a fun way to spend quality time with humans. He was no less appalled by the spherical monstrosities than he was before. I tried popping a few as an example. He seemed relieved that I was capable of killing them, but not much else. I gave up, capping the bubbles and putting them back next to the dog food.

I tried one other time. Rex seemed interested in the bottle, but as soon as I blew a bubble his eyes bugged out and he sprinted across the kitchen into the safety of my father-in-law's bedroom.

It was this incident that I thought of sitting on the lawn at Davey's work site, watching the mailman and trying to believe Davey when he said that Rex really did want to be my cat.

Missing Rex

I sat dejectedly on the lawn of Davey's work site, Aidan planted happily in my lap. Every couple minutes Davey would walk by, sending Aidan into paroxysms of delight and longing. He'd go running for him, halted only by my unsympathetic grip on the leash. 

"But I want to go put my feet on him," said Aidan as I reined him back in.  

"Too bad," I said. "He's working." 

Aidan put his head on his paws sadly. I went back to my melancholy thoughts. Rex hadn't come near me in days. He wouldn't sit on my lap or take naps with me or anything. He didn't even greet me at the door when I came home any longer. He was right about Aidan always being around. When I sat down at the computer, there was Aidan. When I went into the kitchen to make dinner, there was Aidan. When I got home work, there was Aidan, twirling with joy to see me. And always, hiding just around a corner, was Rex. I could tell by the expression on his face that he was keeping tally of all the ways that he thought the dog was usurping his position as my special boy. He started giving me the cold shoulder and refused to be in the same room as Aidan. The only way I could even sort of tell that he still loved me was that at night he would sneak up next to my bed and meow softly, waking me up. 

"What is it?" I'd ask, blearily. "Come up here with me." I'd pat my belly encouragingly. Rex stretched himself up to peer over the mound created by my body and the blankets, fixing his gaze on Aidan curled up between me and Davey, snoring and grunting and gurgling as he slumbered. 

"No thanks," he'd decline, and drop quietly back to all fours, quietly disappearing into the shadows on the floor. I'd wilt a little at the rejection and wait for sleep to return. Sometimes in the morning, I'd wake up to discover Rex had spent the rest of the night in the closet, presumably keeping an eye on me as I dreamed my macabre dreams. I always discovered him when I opened my closet to get a sweater. He'd come creeping out, trying to act casual although I could tell by his demeanor that he had not intended for me to find him watching me from the closet in this way. 

"Hi, honey," I would say, hoping for a greeting in return. 

"Just give me my breakfast," he'd order, walking into the bathroom to stand by his food dish.

Sighing, I would comply. 

Davey came past again on his way to load something into the truck. Aidan strained against the leash, trying to reach him. Davey glanced over at me. He'd spent the past 20 minutes of my depressed mooning about my cat trying to convince me to tell him what was wrong every time he walked by, but I suspected that talking about it might make me cry and I was not about to do that in public if I could help it so I was refusing to tell him. He walked over and bent over me, sticking his face right up in mine. 

"What's wrong?" he asked.

I shrugged. Aidan tried to clamber up his bent legs. 

"Hi, Aidan!" Davey cooed. "I missed you, buddy! I missed you when I was inside!"

"I missed you too!" crowed Aidan, thrilled that they had been thinking the same thing. 

I looked down at the grass. I missed Rex. Every day that went by without him coming near me was digging a jagged hole deeper and deeper into my chest. Davey caught my expression, and put his hand on my knee. 

"You miss Rex, huh?" he asked. 

I nodded, my eyes beginning to sting. I blinked to try to keep them from watering and giving away the depths of my sorrow. 

"We'll take Aidan to my Mom's for the night and let you spend the rest of the day with Rex, okay?" he said.

I nodded again, pouting like a little baby. 

"What... what if he doesn't want to hang out with me?" I asked, sniffling. 

"Of course he does," said Davey.

"Okay," I said, still harboring doubts. 

"There's no reason to think he won't. He loves you. He thinks you're his Mom. He's not going to just stop wanting to be around you," said Davey, standing up to continue loading up the truck.

I stayed on the lawn with Aidan, willing my eyes to dry themselves and thinking about what Davey had said. Maybe he was right, but I had my doubts. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aidan's New T-Shirt

"You always have that stupid dog on you," Rex accused me this morning when I tried to get him to come sit with me for a little bit.

"Come on, Rex. I love you," I entreated, avoiding the issue. "Let me pet you."

He turned his back on me. "Always that stupid dog, doing all the stuff I used to do. Sleeps in your bed, helps you in the kitchen, sits on your lap," he grumbled to himself. "You like him better than me."

That was not true at all, but there was no way I was going to be able to convince Rex of that. I tried to pet him but he dodged my hand. "Please, Rex. I miss you," I coaxed.

Right at that moment Aidan saw me with Rex and came scurrying over to make sure I wasn't forgetting that he existed and that he was, by his estimation, far more important than some cat that, from his perspective, appeared one day out of nowhere. He planted himself by my side, glancing at Rex dismissively before looking at me.

"I like nacho cheese sauce," he said, thoughtfully.

"I'm done here," said Rex, coldly, walking away.

"Oh, good. He's gone," said Aidan, watching him go.

I sighed, slightly irritated. I could hear Rex jingling down the hallway.

"I'm mad, by the way," he meowed from out of sight, in case I hadn't realized that.

I looked over at Aidan, the source of my pet woes. I wasn't exactly pleased with his antics, but I knew it wasn't his fault that he had the mentality of a human 2-year-old. "Well, Aidan," I said. "If we're going to the store you probably want to wear a shirt, huh? That one you have is dirty. You want to wear one of mine?" I went to fetch an old t-shirt out of the box I've been throwing junk I don't need into as I unpack, Aidan jogging happily behind me.

"Do you like the Justice League?" I asked.

Aidan looked the shirt up and down approvingly, sitting still so I could try it on him. It was too big, so I took it off. Aidan fidgeted. He wanted the shirt back.

"We just need to make it fit you first," I told him. I didn't know where my scissors were so I went into the kitchen to get a knife, Aidan trotting along behind me, anxiously eying his shirt. I started by tearing off the sleeves.

"You're gonna look like Davey with no sleeves, huh?" I said, smiling at him and holding up the shirt.

Aidan wagged his tail.

It still didn't fit so I took it off again, sitting on the tile floor with the knife to butcher the cloth. Aidan sat by, watching his shirt. After a few more adjustments and shirt fittings, the shirt was about as good as I could make it look without scissors or sewing skills. The back end flapped around his legs ludicrously, but I couldn't bear to separate Aidan from his new shirt any longer to fix it. He looked so disappointed every time I took it off of him. Rex peered at me around the corner as I inspected the garment.

"I'm still mad," he reminded before withdrawing from view once more. I sighed.

Our housemate, Dan, came into the kitchen to get some coffee.

"I'm trying to make Aidan a shirt but I need scissors to cut off that crap at the end," I said, explaining why I was sitting on the floor with Aidan and a steak knife, staring at the pug's rump.

"I have scissors," said Dan, who is very helpful. He brought them out and we circled around the pug. I held him still while Dan cut off the loose ends. Aidan squirmed a little bit, but for the most part he patiently bore the annoyance in the name of beauty. The scissors were dull, so it took a long time.

"Hey, what are you doing to that dog?" Rex meowed curiously as we toiled away at trimming Aidan's shirt. I could tell he was hoping it was something awful. He slunk up next to me. "Oh. It's just his dumb shirt." He turned around and left, muttering to himself about Aidan and his stupid outfits.

"I feel very handsome," Aidan announced once the tailoring of his garment was finished. He gave a little wiggle to get it comfortable. "Aren't I handsome in this shirt?" he asked. He looked like a redneck, but the important part was that he thought he looked good.

"You look very nice, Aidan," I said. He wagged his tail.

I smiled at him and went to go to the bathroom. I stopped when I spotted Rex in the living room. "Hey, sweetie. Wanna come with me while I brush my teeth?" I invited. He looked like he was considering it until...

"Oh, hey. Are we going to the bathroom now?" asked Aidan, appearing behind me. "Let's go. Also, I love you."

Rex blinked and settled back down on the floor. "No," he said. "I would rather sit here in the middle of the carpet doing nothing than be in the same room as that stupid dog."

"I love you, Rex," I cajoled.

"Whatever," he grouched, ending the conversation.

And that's where things stand with the pets now. Aidan is doing everything in his power to keep the attention on him. Rex is wandering around the house, sulking and giving me mean looks when he sees me with the dog, who I can't shake off long enough to spend some alone time with my cat. I'll have to write more later about their ridiculous antics when they first met, but for the time being, I'm going to get Aidan out of the house so he can impress everyone with his new shirt.

Other Interesting Pet Articles:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Introducing the Boys: Aidan

Aidan is a pug. His face is wide and furrowed and something about the set of his jaw makes Aidan have the most pouty, disapproving expression I have ever seen on a dog, although that could be because he is a sensitive, frequently offended chap and so often truly is pouting disapprovingly. 

Aidan's past is shrouded in mystery. My mother-in-law found him at a gas station in L.A. or some other such spot that a pug has no business being without an attendant. From his skittish behavior, clinginess, and racism, Davey has speculated that Aidan was probably treated badly by his first owner, the one who let him go to gas stations alone, and that the person was probably Latino. Aidan hates people that shade of tan. If you have toasty bron skin and dark hair watch out for Aidan, because he will bark at you from a safe distance. Sometimes he'll chase you if he feels he has the upper hand, which he never does. He's barely any bigger than my cat and he gets scared easily. I don't know where he gets these bursts of bravery, but I think it depends on whether or not Davey is outside with him because he knows Davey will snatch him from danger's arms if his victim decides to punt him across the yard in retaliation for his abuse.

Aidan's racist barking shouldn't be funny to me because it's bad behavior, but it really cracks me up. You see, Aidan has been wearing a sweater lately because it's been cold and it turns out Aidan really loves being dressed in outfits. He seems to feel more confident when he has clothes on, and he likes to show himself off when he's wearing something new. This sweater is the only non-holiday themed outfit he has, so it's the one he wears every day. It's orange and white striped with a skull and crossbones appliqued on the back. He looks like a children's-television-style bully when he wears it. This is why I think it's so hilarious when he runs outside and stands at the alert, his curly tail coiled tightly against his butt and his floppy ears perked, barking at the neighbors. He looks like a fat little pug sausage, but he really thinks he's being intimidating. You can tell by the way he runs back inside after Davey goes to yell at him to stop barking and come inside that he's very proud of himself for scaring away the Mexicans. Racist dog.

The first time I ever met Aidan he hated me. Davey and I had just gotten engaged and he took me to meet his parents for the first time. Aidan was at his Mom's house that day, and after it became clear to him that I was indeed there with Davey and was probably not going to leave, he started giving me the stink eye. I was going to pay for my nerve. How dare I come into his house and steal attention from him! How dare I!

"Hi, Aidan," I said, trying to be friendly. He sat on his haunches and scowled at me, refusing even to sniff my ugly, man-stealing hand. I stood back up.

"He doesn't like you," laughed Davey, pleased that yet another rivalry for his affection was brewing, this time between different species.

"He's going to eventually," I said grimly, following Davey into the bathroom where he was about to shave his face. Aidan, not about to lose a chance to show me who was Davey's favorite, came with us. He plopped to a seat next to the bath tub, his hind legs pointing off in the same direction in a casual pose designed to show me that this was something he watched Davey do all the time and that he was about to use this opportunity to cut me down. He stared at me, contempt shooting at me out of his bug eyes like laser beams. It was scathing. Then he looked at Davey, raising his chin to the ceiling in disapproval. "This bitch?" he seemed to say, looking back over at me judgementally.

"Hi, Aidan," I said.

He turned back to Davey, disgusted. "Seriously. This bitch?"

"I know, she's stupid isn't she, Prince Aidan?" Davey cooed. "You're so much better than her."

I rolled my eyes.

It didn't take Aidan long to decide I was okay. He soon discovered that when Davey wasn't paying enough attention to Aidan, I was a useful pawn in his rudimentary mind games. Davey would shove Aidan off of his lap so he could devote more attention to Starcraft II and Aidan, incensed, would trot over to me. He would place himself under my arm, staring at Davey disdainfully all the while. We spent a lot of time together in this fashion, both of us on the bed killing time while Davey played his games. I would read his Nana's gossip magazines and absentmindedly stroke Aidan's roly poly back while he snorted and farted.

At some point during all of this, Aidan realized that I'm fantastic. I had begun to expect it, but I wasn't sure until pre-Thanksgiving at Davey's Nana's house. Davey and I had intended on arriving together, but one of my friends was crying over a guy so I had her come over to my apartment instead so I could soothe her for a while before meeting Davey at dinner. When I arrived, my teary-eyed friend* in tow, Aidan melted at the sight of me, like a pat of butter on a warm day. I crouched down to greet him. He threw himself against my legs.

"What's up, buddy?" I asked, scratching behind his ears. He gazed at me wetly, his eyebrows knit together pathetically. His expression said it all. "There's all these people in my house," he pouted, "and I don't know any of them and I want them to go away and I don't know where Davey is but I know who you are and... and... I love yooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuu."

"Buck up," I said, scratching around his collar.

"Don't leave me," he begged, trying to get onto my lap.

"Oh, Aidan," I sighed, settling myself on the ground so he could sit on me. He pressed himself comfortably against my bosom and closed his eyes, snorting and farting all the while.

*She didn't need to cry. She found herself in possession of a nice new boyfriend by Christmas, one who thinks she poops diamonds and vomits emeralds. She is much happier now. 

Introducing the Boys: Rex

Rex is my handsome little cat. Aidan is my husband's regal little pug. Until recently, the two animals had had no occasion to meet. Now that Davey and I are married and living together, however, it is a completely different story.

Rex, being my especial pet, is clearly my favorite. He is a black furred little gentleman, still kitten soft at the distinguished age of five years old. He's not the most successful cat. Even as a kitten he didn't play fight or climb the furniture with the same verve and tenacity as his sisters, including the one that turned out later to be a boy with invisible testicles. After their eyes opened, the rest of the kittens started climbing out of their nesting box for the first time to venture forth into the wider world of the home office they were kept in. Rex, on the other hand,  was still getting stuck trying to clamber over the edge of the box. He would peer over the rim of the nest at his gamboling siblings, his eyes still a little crusty. I could almost see the longing to play filling up his tiny body and pouring out his ears.  Enticed, he would hoist himself up onto the rim of the box and try desperately to get his little hind legs up over it. Sadly, the task proved repeatedly to be too daunting and he would begin to cry pitifully before easing himself backwards into nest to watch his sisters (and secret brother) frolic until the longing became too great once more. I sat and watched him try and fail for a full twenty minutes, mesmerized by how close he would come to making it out of the box before giving up and retreating. Once, he even got three of his legs over, paws firmly planted on the carpet. His rear left leg, however, was stuck. Rex began to mew for help, which I would not give. He needed to learn to do things for himself. He looked at me blearily. "I can't do it," he sobbed.

"Arrrg! Keep going! You're almost there!" I urged, exasperated by his ineptitude.

"No," he wept. With three legs out of the box, he retreated, poking his head back up over the edge to watch his sisters some more. "That looks fun," he sighed.

I threw up my hands in disgust.  "I don't want this stupid kitten anymore," I huffed.

I had laid claim to Rex a long time before all this. From the moment Rex's mother birthed her first stillborn black kitten I put a standing reserve with my then-boyfriend and his family on the first non-deceased black male their cat produced, although for some reason it seemed harder for her to keep the black ones alive in her womb. When she became pregnant with Rex's litter I was all atwitter waiting to find out if she would fulfill my demand. I made a point of impressing upon my boyfriend and his parents the seriousness of my intent to possess a black male kitten. If someone else got him first, I was going to be pissed. I had this idea that he was going to be a man's man of a cat, with a strong cat jaw and a mean left hook. I couldn't have been more wrong. My first indication that all was not right with my little warrior was when I went over to their house a day or so after the kittens were born and flipped them on their backs so I could see how many boys and how many girls. Even more important was finding out whether or not the two nearly identical little black kittens were boys or girls. I picked up the first one and flipped it over in my hand. A girl. She stoically bore my inspection without a peep or a squirm. Rex, on the other hand, squeaked frantically from the moment I picked him up to the moment I placed him back at his mother's side."Hmmmmmmmm," I murmured, thoughtfully tucking away this information.

The kittens were too young to really do much besides drink milk, sleep, and poop themselves at first, so it was still impossible for me to tell how good Rex was going to be at jumping and killing. I figured maybe his squeaking was actually a brutish yowl of rage that only seemed wimpy because of Rex's small size and undeveloped vocal cords.

But here he was a few weeks later, unable to get out of a box while the other kittens were out on the carpet practicing jumping. Rex wouldn't become a good jumper until the other kittens were busy becoming accomplished climbers. This was no burly man cat. This cat was a dud. I didn't know what to do. I fancied myself a mean and cranky girl who needed a cat to match. I really wanted a black cat, and the one I had dibsed was useless for my purposes. His almost identical sister, however, had been a badass from day one. Yes, I decided. She was the one I wanted. Immediately upon making my choice I picked her up and put her in my lap so I could play with her a little bit. She looked at me coldly and left. She didn't have time for my games.

I tried every day for weeks to win her over, but she would just squirm out of my grasp and flounce away. "What the hell?" I sulked, watching her engage one of her sister's in play-battle. Rex climbed on my shoe and stared inquisitively at my face. "Urrrrg," I groaned. "I don't want you anymore. You suck at fighting." He ignored me and made his way up onto my knee, where he curled up and fell asleep.

As the kittens grew closer to being old enough to take home, it was becoming more clear that that girl did not want anything to do with me. Rex, conversely, would run out into the middle of the room as soon as he heard my footsteps and stare at me as I stepped over the baby gate and into the room. "Prrrrrrrrrip!" he would cry out joyfully, scurrying over to me as I sat down to watch the kittens play.

"You aren't her are you?" I'd mumble, flipping him over to check. He squirmed a little until I set him down on the floor in front of me dismissively. Undaunted, Rex would crawl up onto his favorite spot on my knee and curl up to watch his sisters with me. I would scratch him on his tiny back and try not to jostle him as he fell asleep.

"He doesn't do that to anyone else," observed my boyfriend's Mom one day, watching Rex's excited dash for me. 

"You really like me, don't you?" I said, scratching the downy fur under his chin. He purred contentedly. "You'd be pretty happy to come live with me, huh?" I asked, settling down onto the floor so he could take his customary spot. He paused to gaze at me adoringly on his way up my ankle. I smiled at him fondly. "I changed my mind again. You're going to be my little cat," I said, giving him a kiss on his little head. So I took him home with me and never looked back.