Friday, July 16, 2010

Yes, but how's the cat?

While I was pregnant, Oberon would jump from a window sill or emerge from under the bed and come to me. He'd find me on the couch, always on the couch, rubbing the right side of my belly where I'd just felt movement. He never seemed to realize that phrases like "Is that my baby boy?" said in a sing-song voice were no longer reserved just for summoning him. He'd still navigate me, ending up scrunched along my neck and arm or down at my knees, in the shadow of the mountain that grew where he used to rest.

Oberon has been an "only child" for these five years since we rescued him from the Huron Valley Humane Society. He wasn't a kitten when he lured our hearts from his cage, one skinny paw reaching out between the bars. He was small though, still a youngster, and his name was Bob (he shares his permanent name with the "King of Faeries" in A Midsummer Night's Dream and with Mike's favorite beer).  Little Bob didn't meow frantically like the other cats, and he nuzzled into our necks when we held him, letting us know he chose us too.

The first night with us Oberon lived in our office, but the next morning I let him roam the rest of the place to slowly transition him from cage to two-bedroom apartment. I sat on the floor of the living room and pulled a fuzzy fish on a string around my lap, and Oberon chased it, eventually running over my crossed legs, his first voluntary contact with me. Later on I lounged on the couch and he fell asleep, stretching out Superman-style in the crease between my belly and the back of the sofa. He became my little buddy that morning.

When I returned to teaching a few weeks later, Oberon would come out from wherever he had been napping, still a little guy trotting down the hall with sleepy eyes, and would meet me at the door as I returned home. He still does that today, but it's more of a mosey than a trot.

Oberon had mites in his ears and a respiratory infection when we adopted him, so everyday for the first week or so, Mike would hold his tiny jaw open while I would squirt medicine in with a syringe. We put cottonballs of medicine in his ears and massaged them, releasing a golfball-sized nest left by the bugs from each ear, pulled out with tweezers at his first vet appointment. For a long time he would push his ears into our fingers when we would pet him, and we got the feeling he was thanking us for getting rid of those pests.

In those early days, Mike and I became kitty parents. Hopefully our obvious failure in training the cat to stay off the kitchen table and counters is not an indication of how things will go with our kids. I expect it will serve a lesson to us about being consistent.

When Mike and I came home with Sophie and Michael, Oberon kept his distance, the noises and movements of the babies startling him to retreat whenever he tried to get a closer look.

We opted not to put the used co-sleeper we bought from a fellow MoM to use in our bedroom, due to lack of space and thinking Oberon might try to climb in with the babies while we slept. He's a cuddler. Instead the babies have slept in their cribs since that first night, their nursery door closed, and with Angelcare Monitors helping us sleep for those rare moments when the babies let us. Oberon sleeps between my knees once again, as he always had until the third trimester when my restless sleeping and hourly trips to the bathroom became too much of an annoyance (tell me about it, buddy). When the babies cry, he  follows and watches from the doorway of the nursery, returning to bed with us when Sophie and Michael sleep again.
He never napped in the co-sleeper we instead used as bassinette in the living room, set temptingly in front of the picture window. Instead of making himself at home there like he does when the Christmas tree is placed in that location, he would sit on the coffee table or peek in for a moment from behind the curtains, watchful and curious. 

He has never batted at a baby toy, despite how similar they are to his own soft, jingly pals. He did recently make himself at home on the Boppys in their playroom, and I've found him sleeping in Michael's empty crib a couple of times during the day. I scooped him out of the crib with a firm "No!", removed his cat hair with a lint roller, and closed the nursery door, quietly relieved that he's becoming that comfortable with the babies.

The only direct contact he's made with Sophie and Michael is tentatively sniffing their heads while we hold them. Perhaps to him they smell like their first hats that my mom took home to him from the hospital the day they were born, a tip I read about for helping pets adjust to the newcomers. Mom said he sniffed those with interest but otherwise left them alone, the same way he treats the real deal.

Oberon seems to get that Sophie and Michael are our "kittens," and that their safety and care is the top priority around here these days. Hopefully he continues to respect that, and is willing to be left pretty much on his own...until four little hands get curious about him.


  1. I just found your blog and I love this entry. I have two cats that have been my "babies" for eight years, until this past December when I gave birth to my boy/girl twins. They reacted much the same way. But now, they sniff the babies and lay on my lap when I am feeding them, and sit next to the Boppy while the babies are in them. And of course, they love having me all to themselves once the babies go to bed for the night.

  2. Thanks for reminding me of the post. I should probably post an update on our little buddy!


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