After years with reliably affectionate cats, I find myself living with two prickly creatures. Every day I remind myself not to anthropomorphize the actions of Sebastian & Viola. They are growing to love me, but they are not humans that can be cajoled and convinced. They will come to me in their own way and in their own time. It’s difficult, but I must not take their “rejections” personally.
As humans, we imbue animals with human feelings and logic. It’s almost irresistible. I look into their copper eyes, searching for what they are thinking and wondering why Viola is still so skittish while Sebastian grows more relaxed by tiny increments—pulling away sometimes and relaxing into a mammoth purr at others. Their fur is like black velvet, but my opportunities to touch it are limited.
Cats demonstrate their feelings with direct signals. Viola’s ears flatten in defensive fear. Sebastian’s lifts his head, all but saying—“a little more on the left, right there under my chin.” They both squeal with anticipation when I pop open a can of cat food. It sounds like they are anxious, but it’s more likely that they are just excited and hungry. (Believe me when I say that they are well fed.)
Cats have fabulous articulation in the tails, but limited facial expressions. That’s one of the reasons that Alice’s Cheshire Cat’s smile is so disconcerting and human. It’s so out of place on a cat’s face! Of course in wonderland even the dormouse and the rabbit are articulate.
Viola looks surprised, sly or fearful.
Sebastian looks amused, relaxed or angry.
I can’t help interpreting their expressions in human terms. They are not cats in a children’s book or a romance novel. They are the real deal and I must meet them on their level.