by Mark Miles
I’ve lived with cats for the majority of my life. First there was Kitty, the black part-Siamese brought home by my sister Michelle when I was five or six. Then there was Taffy, the white-and-grey runt of the litter brought home by my sister Melanie when I was nine. Then there was Sophie, the speckled brown-and-tan Maine Coon given to me by my mom when I was nineteen. I also lived briefly with a cat named Ritz who was my brother’s, but I was never close to her and didn’t spend much time with her. Still, I’ve had enough experience with cats to know what to expect in general.
So when I got Heidi in September, 2014, I was pretty sure there would be no surprises. Yet, in small ways, she surprises me continually. One of the ways in which she does so is by jumping to a location of interest and assuming a lookout. Now Kitty also did the same thing, jumping to considerable heights in order to gain access to something of interest, including the second-story porch and his bed. But Heidi jumps to a lookout and then simply surveys the terrain or assumes a precarious reclining position with her head hanging over the edge, tempting fate. She also occasionally uses these lookouts as launchpads for sneak attacks on her sister. Don’t worry though; no claws are allowed.
Another way in which she distinguishes herself is by her easy alternation between indoors and outdoors. All my other cats have been solidly one or the other. Kitty and Ritz were both solidly outdoor cats, only tolerating the indoors when required. Taffy and Sophie were solidly indoor cats, only venturing outdoors on rare occasions. There was a clear dividing line between the two groups.
Heidi, however, is another story. She spends a roughly equivalent duration of time indoors and outdoors. During inclement weather she prefers to be indoors; rain is a surefire way to bring her to the doorstep. And when the weather is agreeable she prefers to be outdoors, sunning herself or checking out neighborhood squirrels with a carnivorous eye. Of all my cats, she’s by far the most adaptable and well-rounded.
As with all things, there’s a reason for this. I’ve been very lenient with Heidi, and I prefer to let her do as she pleases as long as there’s no serious risk involved. I’ve done my best to earn her trust by treating her as an independent and autonomous being, which she is. This keeps her happy and allows me to save energy by not having to struggle with her over inconsequential issues, issues which generally have far more to do with human ego than biological necessity. And with this kind of relationship, a relationship based on mutual respect, many pleasant surprises are possible.