Monday, March 5, 2012

Hail to The Boss

by Julia Buckley

Our oldest cat has earned a sort of patriarchal throne in our home. When he was young, my toddler saddled him with the name "Pibby Tails," which we have shortened to Pibby. But these days, we refer to him as "The Boss."

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!"



Sandra Parshall said...

I love it! Everyone who's ever had cats has probably had one like The Boss. Thanks for telling us about him -- and long may he reign at the loftiest region of your little heiriarchy.

Diane said...

Most of my cats have either stayed up and away from the dogs' area, or, like one I had, got along with them just fine. And they respected her, too. She also refused to hunt/hurt any other animal, no matter what it was. We had a parakeet that loved to fly - and, mostly, walk - around free. It loved the cats. They ignored him.

My closest cat in personality was Ghepetto, a somewhat ragged Russian blue I adopted, thinking he was abandoned. Turned out some jerky neighbors 'owned' him, but never, ever let him inside. And he dispised their little girls. So I think that either they, or some other young child had 'trimmed' his ears. He woudl stroll inside, tail in the air, give the dogs what I called a very pointed 'evil eye', they would back up, and he's stroll past - tail still at full mast - to where his food dish was or where ever he wanted to lay. Unchallenged. He was also the most loving person cat I have ever had, and that's saying something.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Sandra! You'd love him if you met him. To paraphrase an old Glenn Close line, he will not be ignored. :)

Diane, that cat sounds lovely! My first cat looked a lot like a Russian Blue--they are such beautiful cats. And I'm glad to hear you gave him a haven from the not-great owners.

Sandra Parshall said...

Julia, I'm sure The Boss and I would adore each other. I'm a cat magnet. I've never met one that didn't like me. I remember being in a woman's house and meeting her two cats, and it was obviously the boy wanted to get on my lap. As I was reaching for him to give him a boost, his owner cried in alarm, "Oh, don't, don't! He'll scratch you or bite you. He HATES being picked up!" But by the time she got her whole warning out, he was happily settling on my lap, winking at me and purring. His owner said, "Oh."

Julia Buckley said...

Isn't it interesting that cats seem to sense your personality, or perhaps your love for them?

Anonymous said...

I just loved this. I am still mourning the death of my belooved Miss Priss over a year ago and can't get another little friend due to my health problems. So, I really loved your sharing this wonderful creature... Thelma Straw MWA-NY