Personal Stories

The Cat Who Won’t Love Me

I have two cats. One is a female torby—a mash-up term for a coat color that is both tortoiseshell and tabby striped—named Cinder. The other is a male one-eyed orange tabby with white markings named Jack.

Jack doesn’t love me.

Almost two years ago, I started having a hankering to own a cat again. We hadn’t had one for a few years, and I still really missed Pudgie, our seventeen-year-old cat who passed away shortly after we moved into our current house. She was a sweet, petite brown tabby whom we referred to as the perfect cat. Okay, she did barf frequently, but she didn’t wreck furniture or make much mischief. I missed her unobtrusive presence, even though we had two dogs and a guinea pig to fill the void.

I convinced the rest of the family to let me look for an orange tabby to adopt. I found one listed at my local shelter and went to see him, but he had been pulled by a rescue group already. I made a list of a number of other cats that I liked, but I couldn’t make a decision. I wanted to go see some others at an adoption center in a local Petsmart. We ended up going to a few Petsmarts and there I saw Cinder (called Lacey at the time) and Jack.

Cinder reminded my mom of Pudgie. Different eye colors but similar faces. She was sweetly interested in us through the air holes in her plexi-glass window. Jack was the orange tabby I was looking for, and very interested in my dog Luna whom I’d brought along—more so than in me. I held both of them. Cinder settled onto my lap immediately and purred. Jack was most interested in looking out the door at Luna but he was also a kitten still so I didn’t expect him to sit still long.

The shelter was overseeing this adoption center in the Petsmart, so my application with them allowed me to adopt both cats for the price of one. I couldn’t choose between them anyway, so it seemed meant to be. We brought them home and although it took Cinder a bit longer than Jack to settle in, they now have full run of the house and get along well with the dogs.

Luna Jack & Cinder James
Luna, Jack, and Cinder rest together on the author’s bed – a rare occurrence.

They’re nearly opposite in how they relate to me and my family, however.

Cinder adores me. She would be sitting on me twenty-four hours a day if I allowed her to. Always touching me. Always wanting to be petted. She likes my mom, too, but I am her person. Sometimes I have to move her off of me because I just need some personal space. Cinder tolerates the dogs (I think she secretly likes Luna but doesn’t want to cuddle) and is suspicious of most men. Wherever I am—the kitchen, my bedroom, the bathroom—she wants to be, too. She even sits between the fabric shower curtain and the plastic liner while I am showering. I have no privacy.

Then there’s Jack. He adores the dogs, especially Luna. If it were possible, he would crawl inside of her. (She returns his affection with puzzlement and seeks out her own space). He likes my dad and my nephew, a frequent visitor. It doesn’t matter to Jack that my dad doesn’t particularly like cats. He loves my mom, and purrs loudly while sitting on her lap. I can hear it across the room. He nudges her to pet him and invades her personal space relentlessly.

Jack doesn’t love me.

I feed him most of his meals. I clean up his litter box. I provide him with toys and treats. None of that seems to matter. On most occasions, I get no indication of enjoyment from him if I pet him. Sometimes he even ducks away from me. On a good day, he permits me to pet him a few times. On a rare day, he will give me a squinty-eyed look of pleasure, or a subdued purr, the rarest response. Most of the time, though, my gestures of affection are met with disdain and avoided.

I don’t know what I did to earn his displeasure in the early days of our relationship, but whatever it was must have been very grievous to linger in his feelings towards me. No amount of care I have given since has changed his lack of desire to bond with me. He just won’t love me.

And yet, I love the turkey anyway.

I worry about him slipping outside and getting lost or hurt. I watch his weight so he won’t get diabetes. I share bits of his favorite foods from my own plate. All for the hope of that elusive purr and head nudge to my hand.

2 thoughts on “The Cat Who Won’t Love Me”

  1. Hmm – I wonder if he’s jealous of Cinder or something? Or it’s just that tortitude when a cat knows you want their attention and therefore don’t give it.

    When I was a teenager I had an orange tabby. His name was Friendly and we adored each other. He’d been a stray when we took him in and we went on a trip, leaving a roasting pan of food for him and our other cat. We came back to an empty pan, one hungry kitty, and a very chubby Friendly. After that he weighed 17lbs and would nibble my toes to make me wake up to feed him in the mornings. He loved to sneak outside and bring me grasshoppers as gifts. And he’d sleep on his back on my lap and I’d get to rub that huge, soft belly.

    But then there were 12 years of no pets when I married, had my daughter and we moved across the country. I’m a cat person and I missed them terribly and 3 years ago, we finally felt like we were in a place where we could handle some pets. Hubby is not a cat person so I let him pick from the litter. I just wanted a cat and I’d take what I could get. Plus I’ve read that cat’s personalities tend to change as they age so a social kitten doesn’t necessary equal a social grown kitty. He picked the only long-haired torbie of the litter because that beautiful long fur drew him in. (I remind him of that when he complains about the shedding. 😉 )

    It only took a few days before Cali was wrapping herself around my neck while she napped. She’d crawl under the blankets and sleep draped across my ankles. No one else gets nearly the attention that I get, which I had prayed hard for (I didn’t pray she would dislike anyone but I really wanted a cuddly cat.). But as she’s aged, she’s definitely changed. She’s got that classic Tortitude which I’d never heard of before her. We warn all visitors that’s she’s a meanie and even if she seems like she’s asking to be pet – it’s a trap. Even I approach her with care and caution when she’s lounging around the house. But even now, if I am on the computer, it’s pretty much guaranteed she is going to leap in my arms and demand to be held – especially if I am trying to type so I have to resort to one handed typing. And nearly every single night, no sooner do we turn out the lights to go to bed but she appears. If I am on my back, she climbs on my chest and lays back across my neck. If I am on my side, she flops against my chest and face, settling in for the night. And I instantly forget about how she swiped at me as I came up the stairs or nipped at me because i dared sit too close on the couch. lol

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    1. The only thing that I can think of is what you said – that he’s jealous of my relationship with Cinder. Those two get along very well, though. They play and cuddle together. But maybe he thinks I just can’t love two cats.

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