Watt ... A Cat!
Watt a party animal!
I never actually wanted a Siamese cat. My grandmother was a breeder and I always had not-so-fond memories of them - they had all the possible bad Siamese behaviors at once.
When I moved, I had to leave my beloved Mufasa behind. He was a grand old Norwegian Forest Cat with impeccable manners who doted on and protected my kids (his kittens) with all the ferocity of a lion.
I missed having a cat, so I went onto Craigslist and found "free to good home, daughter will interview prospective furever families".
They obviously cared about their kittens, so off I went with pictures of Mufasa to show how healthy he was. I was not expecting to meet a Siamese breeder, and almost walked out the door but the daughter compelled me to stay and meet the kittens.
As it turned out, the woman was having difficulty selling the last four kittens because none of them were "show quality".
She had made her money because the queen had a good-sized litter so the rest were slated for good homes. She didn't advertise them as Siamese because she was looking for cat people, not people who wanted showpieces.
I still didn't want a Siamese, but we kept talking and next thing I knew the daughter (who I hadn't noticed leaving) deposited a kitten into my lap.
My heart melted. He was mostly white, with an odd golden glow on his muzzle and darker spots of what looked like it might be tabby coloring on his side. He had a nimbus of longer fur around him that meant he *might* grow long hair ... or might not.
Light aquamarine eyes, a sweet face, and this VOICE. I didn't know kittens could be that loud. I didn't want a Siamese but there was no question about whether or not I was leaving with this little guy.
That VOICE was almost the death of one of us. I swear I had never been so sleep-deprived even when my kids were babies, not even when I was in basic training.
Ear plugs didn't work. Shutting the door only made it louder (at least until he figured out how to squeeze under it). He got into everything so I began taking him to work (small office and I'm an owner). He even went grocery shopping with me until he could no longer fit into my pocket or a small purse.
And busy, busy, busy! It was all I could do to keep his mind occupied, otherwise he'd make up his own games. To be perfectly honest, I thought of finding him a more appropriate family, someplace with six kids, three dogs, and lots of action! Watt was literally bouncing off the walls in his mad dashes around the house (what I called kitty parkour).
Then came the day I had to take him to the vet to get him fixed. Suddenly, my house felt completely and utterly empty. I missed the little monster. I wanted my Siamese back!
Watt has mellowed out in the last four years. He lets me sleep all night unless there's a storm (all interesting weather *must* be reported immediately).
He's not my pet. He's not my "baby" either. He's more like a crazy, thumbless, brilliant roommate with whom I have a good relationship.
He's never been a lap cat but is extremely affectionate and more extremely attached to me. He knows commands but they're more like suggestions he decides to go along with. His vocalisations never cease to amaze me. He has noises he uses not just for water, food, squishy food, and other things, but also for individual people.
He wasn't the cat I was looking for but he's definitely the cat I needed, because all this intelligence has been put to use in helping me learn to catch panic attacks before they happen. He knows before I do and will make a fuss over getting me to lay down and give him pets. This is the only time he gets snuggly with me.
He still goes to work with me. If I don't bring him in at least once a week people there start bugging me about it. Even our clients love him and will find themselves sucked into conversations with him.
We have games we play, he loves children, he doesn't mind traveling so long as I'm in the car with him, and every day when I come home from work he's right there at the door to greet me with a report on his day and loves.
He's even developing a fan club. As a joke I started a Facebook page for him because everyone loved the Watt posts. Yes, Watt has more friends than I do.
While I miss the deeply furred majesty that was Mufasa I can't imagine life without Watt. I didn't want a Siamese but he most definitely wanted me. I'm glad I gutted out the year of kittenhood because now I have a wonderful companion in every sense of the word.
When I first told my grandmother I had gotten a Siamese she asked me why I did that to myself. That was a very good question at the time. Now I know. Where grandma's cats had all the bad Siamese behaviors, I managed to bring out all the good ones in Watt.
Update: 2015Replying to a question from another reader about toys, Krista provided a range of fun ideas she'd set up for Watt. They were so good that I've included them below - Caroline
"I bought 8 cheap digital watches with alarms set at 1-hour intervals. The noise would get his attention and draw him to a toy or game I'd set up. Here's a list.
- Puzzle balls with treats inside
- Toilet paper / paper towel rolls stuffed tight with paper or socks with a treat or toy
- Tape flaps on the bottom of one side of a door and/or a toy behind the door to play paw fishing games. Lego was the best because I had hardwood floors for them to make noise on. Have the door open so it's against the wall so the cat can go behind to see what it is he's playing with.
- A pile of hard but unbreakable things on a table for him to knock off. Occasionally I'd set up a bowl next to the table and he'd try to knock them into it. Sometimes there was water in the bowl so he'd pick and choose whether or not to make it splash or land outside the bowl.
- Treats or toys under or inside clear document holders (for 3-ring binders). This one drove him nuts because he could put his paw on it but not grab it. Usually I did it with quarters. Once he figured out the game he added to it by trying to slide it back under so he could fish it out again.
- Noise makers. Google 'April Fools rattlesnake eggs'. I would set these 'traps' and they would scare him but that made it a more realistic part of his hunt. Once they went off they'd throw a treat. I'd watch Watt spend an hour trying to figure out how to get the treat without setting off the rattling action. Sometimes they'd be hidden in the TP rolls but always the treat for his trouble.
- A toy submerged in a water dish or in a bathroom sink. Hate the water, want the toy. Again this was something that could keep him occupied for a while because he'd sit there debating on whether or not the toy was worth the risk of getting wet.
- Spring snakes set so that if he moved something it would pop out. Again, treats for his trouble and he also got the gratification of killing the thing that spooked him.
- Toys taped or velcroed high up on a wall, not out of reach but high enough that he had to really want them to get them. Some of them were attached harder with elastic so he could bring them down to the floor but once release they went right back up.
- A box or bag with toys or old clothing he'd have to dig through to find the treat.
- Nano bots. My favorite. These are little electronic "bugs" that have 2 rows of silicone legs. If run on a harwood floor they'll flip themselves back over if knocked upside down. The movement is very insect-like in that it's fast and random. I know for a fact that a fresh battery will last 8 hours. They're large enough that a cat won't choke on them and are gratifying for chewing on because they're squishy and hard at the same time - good texture. They make for epic 8-hour bug hunts. Some days I'd just let one go in the house before work. Other days I'd turn it on and hide it in something like the TP rolls with stuff holding it in. In the second case, he'd have to find and dig it out in order to release it for the hunt. These are still among his favorite toys. I have no idea how many are around the house anymore but he'll find one and bring it to me in order for me to bring it back to life.
- Real bugs. June bug season is the best. They're not poisonous and give a good hunt with a real kill and feast at the end. During the season it was easy to catch a bunch the night before because they'd fly to the outside lights and stay there. Collect a few and let them go in the house for happy hunting.
- Hide things in shoes for fishing games.
- Electronic butterfly in a jar. The wings do a slow flap like a real butterfly and if the jar is moved or tapped hard enough it'll flap around and rattle like crazy for a little bit.
Just a small handful of the games I set up for Watt. It was either that or come home to see what games Destructo Kitty had come up with on his own. Almost all of them are geared toward hunting to include the surprises because sometimes the prey will attempt to scare the hunter. I call those "jack in the box" games. Again, the digital watches were meant to draw his attention to them. After a while I didn't need the alarms because he learned to hunt for the games on his own. It did take a bit of work to set it all up. Sometimes he'd find them before I left for work in the morning but later he figured out to leave them be until I left. Some days I'd only put out two or three, other days a full ten and never in the same place more than two days in a row (except the knock it off games because of limited surfaces to use)."
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