by Julia Buckley
When The Boss enters a room, you immediately feel a sense of respect. Perhaps it's because of his lordly bearing, or the way that he can make his paws either silent or loud with purpose. Or perhaps it's the way the other two cats defer to him, moving away from the food bowl when The Boss wants to eat, or getting out of the chair when it's clear The Boss wants it.
Like an aging Hollywood actor, The Boss seems to grow more attractive as he grays. His white-tipped temples look as though he had them done at a cat salon, and he is meticulous about his grooming, which he likes to do in the center of the living room rug while we watch television.
Whenever The Boss strides to the center of that rug, my husband jokes that he's about to call a meeting. He gives us all a stern look; we obviously disappoint him on a continual basis. Eventually he tires and tips over, curling up his front paws like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
He was a beautiful kitten, with chocolate brown eyes. Those eyes have since changed to a mysterious green, but his beauty is undiminished.
The Boss bears many scars from when he was an outdoor cat. (The injuries themselves determined that we needed to keep him inside, although he sits in the window with an air of longing, like a sea captain separated from his vessel). The Boss's ailments have included:
--Infection from cat bite (with corresponding swollen gargoyle face)
--Second infection from cat bite (and surgery)
--Tail inadvertently closed in door by absent-minded boy (surgery)
--Severe back injury by unknown assailant (hawk?) (surgery)
Despite his many ailments and scars, he remains the strongest of the cats, both personally and physically. When he gets into brawls with his brother Mulliner, who is our fluffiest cat, we find tumbleweeds of Mulliner hair blowing through the house, and little brother learns another lesson about challenging The Boss's place in our household hierarchy.
The dog learned long ago to leave the cat alone. They exchange the occasional sniff, or share the occasional sunspot, but otherwise they keep their distance.
The Boss is our primary mouser, and in his heyday it was not unusual for him to stroll past us with a tail dangling out of his mouth. He taught his younger brother to hunt, as well, although our littlest cat, Rose, seems to show no inclination to hunt things, other than the mysterious creature she is sure lives under our refrigerator.
We are grateful to The Boss in all his grandeur. He adds a certain elegance to our home that not every cat can achieve. I'm sure T.S. Eliot would have special words to apply to The Boss alone, but the closest might be in the lines of his poem "The Rum Tum Tugger":
"For he will do as he do do
And there's no doing anything about it!"
(From OLD POSSUM'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS)