Sunday, December 10, 2006

Harley, Queen of the Bungle

Here's Harley, in her favorite spot on the living room sofa. Note the checkerboard face.

Two cats share our home at the moment. I wrote a little about Sam the other day; here's a glimpse into Harley.

We found both cats at the Berkeley/East Bay Humane shelter, a righteous, no-kill animal shelter in west Berkeley. We'd waited to get them until Zack arrived for the summer, so all three of them would have several months to bond and get to know each other. David zero'd in on Sam, who was in a cage with several of his siblings, obviously just bursting with desire to be petted and cuddled. In stark contrast, Harley was in a cage by herself, lying in that Kliban Cat meatloaf pose, with her back towards the rest of the room. "That's my cat!", I thought, and I was right. After a brief drama that involved getting our landlord's permission to adopt the two cats, and a last-minute sprint back to the shelter before it closed for the weekend, both kitties arrived in our home.

A few months later, when we were back at the shelter for a check-up, we mentioned something about Harley's less-than-effusive personality. "Yeah", the vet's assistant replied, "torties have attitude!"

Eleven years later, I still think about that description, which is absolutely right-on. Harley has attitude!

We named her "Harley" for two reasons. She has almost-perfect checkerboard markings on her face (kind of like a harlequin) and, when she was a tiny kitten, she purred so loud, she sounded like a Harley-Davidson revving up to take off down the freeway. She still produces one helluva purr when she's feeling happy.

Harley has the softest coat of any cat I've ever petted (and that's a LOT of cats!). Touching her is such a lovely experience, especially when she's relaxed and allows the contact to continue after a moment or two. A lot of the time, as soon as you start to pet her, she'll move around and start licking your hand as if to say "Hey! I get to control this process, not you! Get it?". She'll let you pet her, but on her terms, not yours!

This morning, I woke to find her nestled up against my hip, sound asleep. For about five minutes, I lay there stroking her soft fur and scratching under her chin, until she came to consciousness enough to turn around and lick my fingers, re-establishing supremacy in the process.

Harley is beautiful, haughty, and not very bright. And I love her to pieces.


mdmhvonpa said...

It certainly does appear as though you do enjoy your cats! :) Evidence points to the conclusion that they enjoy you too!

Libbi said...

I hope they do, but part of me thinks they only tolerate us because we can open doors!

Revalani said...

Yup. I have a button that says "I feed them, so they let me stay."