February 23, 2008

Fanny update

It's hard to believe that Fanny has been with us six weeks now. She came to us a tiny, underweight kitten, and in a few short weeks she has tripled in size and become a plump, plush beauty. She has also planted herself so firmly into our lives and our affections that it's hard to imagine how we ever lived without her.

Our day A.F. (Anno Fanny), generally begins at 6:00, when she licks Kevin's face and toes until he finally gets up to feed her, and it doesn't end until she's crawled in bed with us and burrowed beneath the covers. On very cold Canadian nights there is nothing better than having a warm, purring pelt of fur wrapped snugly around one's feet.

All day long, too, she is by my side: lying in my lap while I work at the computer, sitting on my shoulder while I wash the dishes, and accompanying me on my chores in the basement, which is full of dark, dank kitten delights. She persuades me to take part in her interests as well. I've wasted more hours than I'd care to count sitting at the window with her and watching the birds in our hedgerow.

I've had a number of cats in my life -- and one very sweet dog -- but none has been as affectionate or as intelligent as Fanny. On her very first day with us, she passed the hallmark test of animal intelligence: When her ball rolled underneath the refrigerator, she did not wait in front for it to roll back out again, she ran around to the back and caught it on its forward trajectory. She also takes a keen interest in computers, following the movement of my mouse across the computer screen. Unfortunately, sometimes, she pounces.

Fanny is also a natural born athlete. She doesn't just play with a string, she plays with a string while walking the bottom rungs of our dining chairs, like some high-wire acrobat. And she doesn't just play ball, she kicks around a tiny Corn Pop like some feline Pélé, and when she's done playing with it, she eats it! But even natural born athletes have to work out to stay fit. Fanny's exercise regime consists of a hundred daily chin-ups on the rungs of my step ladder, while I try to finish painting the house.

My only complaint is that Fanny is a bit of a gourmand. She has an abnormal attraction to human food, and not just the usual sliced turkey and roast chicken. Everything interests her: salads, peanut butter, coca cola, tea, etc -- so much so that we've had to start locking her up at mealtimes. Kevin jokes that she's drawn food like the chef-mouse Remy from last year's "Ratatouille," and so he's nicknamed her "Little Chef." Indeed, when she's sitting on my shoulder while I'm at the stove cooking dinner, I sometimes wonder if she's not manipulating my strings just a little.

I'm sure you're thinking, "Yeah, right, every owner thinks her cat is special," but Fanny has won accolades from an unbiased public. When she went for her vet check-up the other day, all the lab assistants went nuts for her beautiful coloring and her calm demeanor, and the vet himself said he though she must have some pure-blood Russian Blue breed into her.

Pure breed or no, I'd love her just the same. I had no idea how much I loved her until the other day, when she nearly died. She was playing recklessly on the dining table and fell, wedging her head between two spokes of our Windsor-style dining chairs. The spokes narrow as they reach their base, and Fanny had pushed her head through at the uppermost and widest part of the chair but had fallen until her head was stuck at the narrowest part. Kevin and I were in the other room and wouldn't have known had we not heard a few faint coughs, as the last breaths of air wheezed out of her. I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn't rushed to her in time.

So maybe she's not so bright after all, but she's still our cat and the best one we've ever had. That night, you can be sure, she got her own helping of human food and a seat at the head of the table.

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