Mah Kitteh!

February 23, 2009 at 11:20 pm (Tom) (, )

First off, here’s that linking stuff I always do except when I forget and fall asleep on Sunday night:

Pure sex in a convenient acrylic cloth substitute.

Pure sex in a convenient acrylic cloth substitute.

And now, something much more appealing:

Flametiger Throwdown, my first pet

Flametiger Throwdown, book-lover

So, yeah, this is my new cat.

I’ve never had a pet before, so it’s quite a strange thing having a little animal around the house. We’ve had mice; and they were quite cute, but they never actually wanted anything from you – they were just scenery, essentially. A cat appears to be quite a different proposition. First, another photo:

Flametiger, at rest.

Flametiger, at rest.

It’s a lot more like having a little person around the house. Something like a very quiet, co-ordinated toddler without the opposable thumbs to get into real trouble. I’m told flametiger is somewhat unusual. Although we got him from the RSPCA, he’s  not at all afraid of people, and likes lying on people, headbutting them, and standing on their shoulders. He’s only a couple of months old, but he came to us already litter-trained – which means I get to avoid the whole stepping in cat-poo thing. And he seems to be extremely inquisitive, which I find charming – he’s spent the last two days scampering wildly around the house, exploring all the dark corners and crannies, and occasionally freaking Julia out by disappearing behind large stacks of bags in rooms where a window may have been open at some point. Then I have to check outside for… yeah, but such a thing has not yet come to pass, knock on wood.

But what I find most intriguing are his front paws.

Poorly pictured here.

Both Julia and I talk with a degree of hand motion, and – being humans – we use them for just about everything we do. I’m unsure of how active other cats are with their paws, but I have the distinct feeling that Flametiger is trying to imitate our hand motions. He does this unusual thing, where he opens one paw up wide, like a spread hand, and puts it up towards us, and then relaxes it and repeats the motion with the other hand. He’s definitely a smart little sucka; I’m kinda wondering if that’s normal, or if he’s trying to actively communicate.

Welcome to The Amazing World of Imaginary Anthropropathia, with your host, Tom the first-time pet owner! So yeah, probably not true. But it is curious.

He also swings between looking very much like a cartoon cat, all scrambling limbs, big eyes and pink nose, and something very much more alien and dangerous.

The Former

The Former

The Latter

The Latter

Anyways, enough about Flametiger. You’ll hear all about him soon enough. It’s time, instead, to psychoanalyse my own reaction to our new flatmate.

I was mainly nervous about getting a cat. Having never had one before, and having the impression that most cats were kind of standoffish or bezerk, I was a bit leery of introducing a new, unfriendly and demanding creature to my hitherto quite welcoming home. I figured, moving out of home some years ago, that I’d get to pick and choose my living partners based on temperament and agreeability from that point onwards. No more erratic or dull siblings for me! (Apologies to any siblings reading (Sort of)) A cat – whose moods may not be easily inferred from the interview, I assumed – could easily mess up the pattern. And a pet is a long-term commitment, so I couldn’t boot it out again if it turned out wrong. However, I’ve never had a cat, so I didn’t really feel I had the expertise to say no to what might be a perfectly nice cat. Try anything once, or something like that.

So I’m quite glad that this particular cat has none of the aloof, unfriendly qualities I’d sort of dreaded. That’s sort of a pleasant surprise; and it’s a lot more fun than I’d anticipated. The kind of dumb stuff you can only really do with toddlers once they’re old enough to respond to “Chief”, “Champ” and “Bigfella”, you appear to be able to do with cats straight away – throwing stuff and having them knock it around the floor, make them chase stuff on a string, and playing hide and seek all seem to be kitten specialties. I also probably have a somewhat sanguine view of its ability to take care of itself, as evidenced by the fact that Julia has me progressively shutting all the windows whenever Flametiger is in a 5 meter radius. Our window sashes are probably on the verge of collapse by now.

It also seems relatively cheap. On the way to the supermarket to get cat things, Julia played it coy.

“Well, it might cost a bit of money…”

“Oh?” I enquired lightheartedly, writing off my delicious tax-payer funded shamwows in my gut.

“You know, ten, maybe twelve dollars a week.”

If I was a cat, I may well have farted in relief at this point. Actually, probably not. It seems to be a remarkably clean little animal, also. I dare say it’s more bothered by our smell (clustered around bin and laundry pile) than we are its. Apart from pooing entirely in the litter, and then burying it (better than most humans), it also seems to exude little of the “cat-odour” the normally trustworthy infomercials on our stories-box warn us of.

But yeah, me. I have the impression from Julia and others that having my first pet at 25 is in some way odd, or shameful. Apart from the normal little contrarian in me yelling “Up yours, sicko animal fanciers!”, I suppose statistics tell me they must be right. In 1994, 40% of households owned a dog, and 25% owned a cat. Less than 30% of households with a child between 10 and 14 had no pets at all in 1994 – when I was 11.  Woohoo! My first minority experience! (Says the brown-haired anglo-irish straight guy with a university degree)

Her sister’s reaction was even more extreme: “My god, seriously? How is he not a serial killer?”

(Because my other two siblings armed themselves after Terrence disappeared,
that’s why.)
(Yes, that’s a joke.)(End creepy aside.)

Apparently, she had always harboured doubts about the ability of any child growing up without pets to know the emotion of love. I think that might be slightly hyperbolic, but apparently deeply felt. But, uh, shouldn’t a properly formed child be able to know love without relying on training dummies? You know, with that parent(s) it presumably has? Harry Potter, he could use an owl or something; but your average kid should be alright, right? Apparently not.

I used apparently 3 times in that last paragraph. And presumably once. In 4 and a half sentences, that’s a lot of scepticism, I feel.

Anyway, I’ll wrap it up. Lastly, one more picture of my new cat:

A convenient kitten seat.

A convenient kitten seat.



  1. juliadactyl said,


    I’m really glad you like him. He is a super fun kitty, and because I was a weird only child, having pets was a fairly important part of my life (possibly this applies to my sister as well). But yes! It is intriguing learning about your brainthoughts of kitty, because you were fairly quiet about them (probably because I was so excited about kitty that maybe you thought saying no would make me sad).

    I am glad we got such a friendly new family member.

  2. juliadactyl said,

    Also: I love how in the photo of Flamey in the bookcase, he’s picked a spot where all the books are really intellectual. Makes us look awesome.

  3. naboolio said,

    I love your kitty! He seems to really like people and is gorgeous and fun. I don’t think being petless means you’ll be stunted in some way, but I think it really does mean you’ve missed out on something truly awesome. I’m so glad you’ll get to have a kitty of your own!

    I think the pawing he does is similar to how they sharpen their claws on scratching posts (or other, less convenient things) and like when Mojo paws repeatedly at our clothes or doonas. My impression is that it’s an instinctive form of stretching that feels nice for them. They do it when they’re relaxed and happy. It seems to me to be a remnant of suckling behaviour, because kittens use those same repetitive arm movements to massage the mother cat’s breast while the kitten suckles. I don’t know if it has a purpose (like how scratching things sharpens their nails) for example, maybe it’s meant to encourage more milk to come out. But, maybe it’s just happy-cat arms! Mojo still does it sometimes when she’s very relaxed and close to us.

  4. I wish I could quit you, university + what is Julia doing these days anyway? « A Pleasing Fiveness said,

    […] very narrow shelf underneath the monitor. Anyway, he is just gorgeous.  I assume you’ve read Tom’s thoughts on the matter, but as a seasoned cat-owner, I can definitely say that Flamey is one of the loveliest kitties […]

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