I am the proud owner of a beautiful chubby cat named Tommy. He is an almost nine-year-old white and orange tabby weighing in at seventeen pounds with just as much character and spunk. Over the years of me loving him and him tolerating me, he has taught me many lessons that for him come so naturally. It makes me wish that I was the one born with whiskers, a tail, and an insatiable taste for raw salmon.
1. He makes it known if he doesn’t like something instead of staying around to tolerate it.
He hates baths, oranges, and my father. When he hears water running, he bolts. When he smells even the tiniest whiff of citrus, he’s gone. When Dad’s characteristic stomp-step echoes through the hall, he zips away. He doesn’t allow himself to be surrounded by what he considers negatives for any length of time at all. He doesn’t waste time standing still, hoping bad things will go away or fix themselves. He takes action and runs.
2. He doesn’t care for social media and hates technology.
He makes this abundantly clear to me every time I’m on my phone checking the number of Instagram likes I got on my #tbt or watching an old episode of Modern Family. He obnoxiously rubs the side of his face on my phone. He sprawls comfortably across my computer keyboard. He recognizes that technology isn’t everything and that time should be made for things that matter more. Or maybe he just wants his ears rubbed.
3. He is always well-rested.
It is a well-known fact that cats sleep up to twenty hours a day, and he is no exception. I come across him sleeping upside down on the sofa, under the dining room table, and in my dirty laundry basket, along with approximately seventy million other places he’s lounged about over the years. It doesn’t matter how busy his day might otherwise be; he knows that abundant rest builds energy and restores health, so cat naps have to be penciled in whenever possible.
4. He is assertive when it comes to things he wants.
When it’s time to be fed, which for him is at morning and night, he meows so loudly that it can wake up a horde of hibernating bears. When he wants to be stroked, he sits demandingly in my lap and stares at me with intense eyes. When he sees a bird on a branch outside, he chatters angrily to himself and twitches his tail in an absentminded, jerky motion. When he wants something—be it food, cuddles, or entertainment—he takes initiative and pushes the buttons necessary to attain it. He never wastes time waiting for someone to remember to do something for him and always makes his voice heard.
5. He knows how important nature is.
He is an indoor cat but often dashes out of the first open door he sees. There is nothing that pleases him more than prowling about outside, stalking squirrels and bunnies, and rolling around in the grass. He revels in fresh air and open fields. He hates being cooped up in the house all day and treats every minute he gets to spend outside as heaven on Earth, which it most certainly is.
6. He has a playful, childlike soul.
In human years, he will be turning forty-five, but he hardly acts middle-aged. He always is up for a good romp, same as he was when we brought him home in 2006. In fact, we picked him because he was the only cat who climbed up the bars of the cage at the sight of us, as if he was clambering to say, “Pick me! Me! Me!” He has slowed down a little over the years, but his inner kitten always comes through. He can’t resist feathers, strings, human fingers, and the like; he can go from zero to sixty in three seconds flat when one of those things is batted around him. He’s grown from 5.5 to 17 pounds, but inside he is still that skinny little kitten who once chased his own tail for twenty minutes, and he always will be.
7. He knows exactly the people who are best to him, and he keeps them close.
I’ve been attending college for three years now, but every time I come home, he follows me around with eyes of adoration. He sticks close to my grandmother, sleeping on her bed ninety percent of the time, because she is the one who feeds him when I’m gone. He often lies on my mother’s knees when she watches her dramas on TV. When we have family dinners or card games, he hovers nearby, purring with contentment. He loves the people who care about him and makes sure they understand how much he cares in return. He understands who his family is and that it is always great to be home.