The Character of Cats

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.

The twin cats together.

So often together…but not the same.


  1. I miss my cantankerous Siamese mix so much, but yet also don’t really miss the many ways he would yowl at me to get what he wanted. I’ve never had a puppy or a kitten. I’ve adopted my pets when they were around a year old, and I always ended up taking the ones home that seemed to pick me in how they showed their affection. Getting a kitten is more of a crapshoot in that their personalities are still forming, but they are still a lot of fun.

    • Candy Korman

      I’ve never met cats like this before! Of course they are beautiful and charming———at times———and often very funny. It’s like living with two feline Buster Keatons. They race around the apartment, wrestle and then wash each others faces.

      But still, I miss the obvious love. Will they grow into more loving and demonstrative creatures? I think so. Well, at least one will…

    • Candy Korman

      To a certain extent that’s true. They cuddle, wrestle, chase, and groom each other BUT I have the cherished opposable thumbs that pop open magical cans of food! LOL… The problem for me is resisting the inclination to assign human motivations to them. I have to live on their terms.

      Sebastian lets me know when it’s OK to pet him and it’s at least once a day. As long as I don’t try to pick him up he’s amenable. Viola is simply skittish most of the time, but she is clearly fascinated by me. She watches me all the time. I’m making incremental progress with her. Today, she did not jump off when I sat down on the sofa and when I (without look at her) stretched my foot out to her, eventually caressing her with my big toe and sliding under her belly, she remained in place. It’s a step toward a more relaxed kitty. I HOPE!