An old cat is not poetry in motion. Rather, it is stiff, and awkward and slow and absolutely certain of where it puts its paws. An old cat will try not to jump and climb if he can avoid it, will choose his way with care so that he should not overly exert himself. He knows all the tricks of the trade, and if he is a lucky old cat, he has a home where he can spend 22 hours a day napping peacefully. The other 2 hours, of course, are spent eating and collecting scritches from his Simian caregivers.
But how old is old ? When is a cat of age ?
Loup-Garou is in his eleventh year now. He’s an indoors-outdoors cat, which means that he lives in a house but goes outside whenever the fancy -or the urge- takes him. He does not have to fend for himself since he has 3 simians to do his bidding, he does not have to defend a large territory since he is spayed and thus no longer prone to the demands of raging hormones, he has friends who will stand by him whenever he encounters a problem (certainly Hrimnir, who is the Peacemaker). He does not have to face the cold and dampness outside that would cause his bones to hurt and ache because he has a warm and dry home to snuggle in. All in all he is a very happy old cat and it shows.
His pelt is more coarse now than it used to be. The luster and shine have been replaced by a dignified glimmer. The black is now interspersed with specks of white. The glorious luxurious fur of old is now merely comfortably worn. But it is clean. It continues to show a certain vitality that only a happy cat who practices regular and thorough grooming with dedicated precision can display. It is the kind of pelt that says “here walks a ruggedly handsome gentleman of years, experienced and wise, dignified and noble, well-kept and well-preserved. Be gentle with him.” Or, as they sing in the musical “Cats”: “And be careful of old Deuteronomy…”
Now, observe a kitten. Take Isegrim for instance. His coat is a ragged bristling jumble of soft plush. His idea of grooming consists of a hurried lick now and then, ad random, when the offending patch has absolutely become… ah… offending. He’s not really concerned about his appearances, as long as he’s reasonably clean, doesn’t stink a mile in the wind, and doesn’t upset the simians when he jumps on their laps. His idea of walking around consists of random bursts of speed, with the odd turn and jump thrown in, more or less aimed at where he sort of wanted to land, and generally causes the resident Simians to wonder what he’s been eating. Sometimes his choice of movement causes us to wonder what he’s been sniffing too. But in the end it all comes down to: hold on the furniture people, Izzy’s passing by again.
Not so the elder and extremely dignified Loup-Garou. He chooses his way with exquisite care, clearly planning in advance what route he will be taking in order to negotiate the various obstacles in the House of Chaos with the least fuss needed. Not a single move is wasted, ultimate conservation of energy is the goal. And not a single object will be endangered, since his lithe form is wont to evade anything and wind himself around whatever he encounters. Isegrim just blunders on, through and over. It’s being boisterous that the kitten lives up to, and he has a lot to learn if you judge him by the elderly cat’s disposition.
But learn he will. The body is -alas !- prone to the ravages of time, and time itself is utmost unforgiving. In time our sweet little kitten will notice that he’s grown so tall that his sweet furry paws are now struggling to carry the load. He will discover that the elasticity of youth has been gradually replaced by the stiffness of age. His aging body will cry out to him to rest, to repose, to lie down, relax and let that pesky mousy be. He will learn the hard way that what once had been a height easily scaled has now gotten quite out of reach, and that when he jumps he may not always land where he wanted to, but crash down in an undignified -and angry- heap instead. The face of a feline who, for the first time in his life, misses his leap is a marvel to behold indeed. Words fail to evoke the look of utter disgust and wrath that ripples over that furry little face, but I am more than able to describe the subsequent countenance… that of a kitty determined not to fail this time, when he sets about to jumping once more, consummate tenaciousness radiating from every whisker.
Fortunately for little Isegrim those days are still far off, he’s got 9 more years to enjoy the prime of his cathood to the fullest. But for Loup-Garou the time has now come to settle down and savour the coddling his Simians lavish upon his august feline self. The other Feline Denizens of the House of Chaos defer to his advanced age (and nasty temper), he only has the upstart usurping feral Almost Franky to fear.
Yet, two nights ago he triumphed.
When I came into the living room yesterday morning tufts of black and white fur could be found in abandon everywhere. Clearly a Clash of the Titans has been happening here, and it certainly explains the angry howls we heard the night before. After a quick check on Loup-Garou I could find no injuries, and Frankette -the only white and black feline in residence- seemed unharmed as well. This leads us to the happy conclusion that Almost Franky has come calling again… and got the trashing of a lifetime.
Clearly the old geezer hasn’t lost his mojo yet.
Picture below: Loup-Garou giving Isegrim a nose-kiss.