Sunday, September 13, 2009

When Syd Was the New Cat on the Block

One Sunday morning two years ago, we went to the Milwaukee Humane Society animal shelter. A volunteer who took our application recommended Jordan. We wanted an experienced cat that wouldn't be underfoot all the time. And, if possible, not too smart. I hated it when Fatso, our previous cat would always outsmart me. She was superior to us and never let us forget it. We looked into the shelter's glass-walled private cat cell, and there was "Jordan", posing on his pedestal. But as soon as the door was opened, Jordan calmly walked out into the common area, and headed for the door as if to show us where the rest of the paperwork could be gotten out of the way. I picked him up, he chirped a bit, and then resigned himself to going back into the cell. I could see no sense of superiority in his eyes. In fact, he looked as dumb as a box of hammers. We'd look at a few more cats that morning, but Jordan was the one. I could see that the volunteers had not gotten his name right - this cat should have been called Syd, and Syd he became.

Syd made no fuss being cooped up in the box on the way home, but, looking back with what we know now, it was a good thing he was not aware of the car trip. Syd was a stray when the Humane Society had gotten him - a declawed cat running around wild can have some really bad memories.

When we arrived at home and released him, Syd first introduced himself to Gondi, our other cat, (who is an over-indulged and useless sissy) and then went about methodically exploring the house. He showed no reaction to anything until he saw the toilet bowl in the bathroom. Excited, he put his paws up on the edge and tried to drink. Sadly, somehow he had come to associate toilet bowls with drinking water, either from his life abroad, or from previous owner neglect. I picked him up and took him to the water dish - this was so much better! Syd was excited. And food, too! This new place was a good place. We left him kind of on his own, as he found out where everything was. When I went to bed, he jumped up next to me and slammed himself against me - the good life!

The next morning, we were awakened by cold wet objects in the bed. Syd had done his best to bring us gifts. There were some tea bags from the garbage disposal, and, for me, his favorite new thing - a red sponge he found in the kitchen. Syd was careful to moisten all the new gifts in his water dish - that personal touch is SO important in a gift. The wake-up gifts continued for a few days, until he discovered that the other cat didn't have to bring gifts, so on the fourth day, the gifts stopped.

Syd spends a lot of time moving rubber bands around. He finds them on tables and desks, and takes them somewhere else. Sometimes he accumulates them in one spot, but mostly likes to move them to remote corners and leave them there. In Syd's mind he is earning his keep.

Syd soon found the paths of least resistance, the places where he could take the longest naps with the least disturbance. He knew when the food dishes were filled, so he didn't have to stand around waiting - just show up at dinner time, and there it was!
Syd and Gondi spent lots of time together, grooming one another and exchanging stories. Gondi told him about how Fatso had always been so surly and untrusting of the owners, and she had promised that one day they would both be abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Syd explained to Gondi that these were just Fatso's paranoid delusions - this truly was the place where the Good Life was lived.
Syd continues to this day to enjoy an unusally good life.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52


Lydia said...

Ooooh - I love this look inside the furry mind of the owners, er pets in Garyville.

I love Syd from afar, and if I might observe - "Jordan" - dumb. Syd is far more befitting.

Giggling over the soaked gifts - the ultimate thank you for not having to drink potty water. It's symbolism worthy of Thomas Hardy or Chekhov.


Pics are spectacular

Anonymous said...

This is the sweetest story and I love the pics- esp of the cats cuddling and Syd sleeping on his side. Beautifully written by one who truly understands the connection between creatures of flesh and fur. ~Pea

Sue said...

are you sure Syd didn't soak the gifts in the toilet bowl???? Just askin'
Lydia sent me...blame her..

Leslie Hanna said...

Awwwww. Yes, Syd is truly in the best of homes. Glad the wet gifts stopped after a few days! How sweet, though.

WV: happe. I am so happe for Syd (and you!)