About nine months ago I read this post from E. click ‘here‘. It’s about her cat M. (I just loved she chose to keep him anonymous!) When I found E.’s blog The Third Glance I went to the beginning and read every single post she’d written. She was fairly new to the blogging world and so it was relatively easy to read all her posts in a few days. I sent Richard the link to My Cat is My Hero because we have a black cat also with a name starting with the letter M. Also from a rescue shelter and also a pet that we absolutely adore. Unlike E.’s cat however, Merlin announces his presence to anyone who is capable of bending down to pet him. He demands attention and shamelessly pursues anyone who seems remotely willing to give him his due.
Prior to Merlin, Richard was a self-proclaimed “dog man”. He explained to me patiently that he did not particularly like cats, that given his preference he would surround himself with dogs. In fact, Richard, when I brought up the idea of getting a cat after the children kept asking for one, said to me, “If you care about me and our marriage, you will not bring this up again.” To which I replied, “I do care about you and our marriage.” And the subject was dropped. (By me.) However that did not hold for Nic and Emma. They brought the subject up repeatedly (and I did nothing to discourage them, though I will deny this to Richard, even after he reads this here, I’m still going to deny it.) And finally when Emma said, in a particularly adorable and sad voice, “Bring kitty home?” while at our weekly trip to the pet store, Richard said, “What do you think about getting a cat?” To which I casually replied, “Oh, good idea.” Eye roll and the slightest of smirks.
When we arrived at the pet store we explained that the cat we were looking for would need to be comfortable with children and loud music. One of the employees brought over a rust colored cat whom he assured us loved being held and was a “lap cat”. He was adorable, but Richard looking slightly ill, leaned over as I held the kitty in my lap and whispered, “We are not getting that cat, he looks like liverwurst.” ”He does not Dad!” Nic cried. But Richard stood firm. We continued to view the dozens of cats and then Nic said, “Mom. Look at this one!” And there he was, black as chimney soot, green eyes calmly staring at us, he even swaggered as he made his way over to us. I had been reading Temple Grandin’s book, Animals Make Us Human and had made a mental note about her suggestion that black, male cats were often calmer and she advised gently putting the cat on his back with a light hand on his belly to see what he would do. If he bit or clawed or panicked, he was probably not the right cat for a family with children, but if he was calm, he was, most likely ideal. I did as suggested and Merlin purred, relishing in the attention, then righted himself when he’d had enough and wandered over to Emma, who began to pet him.
Both Nic and Emma expressed their approval and after the lengthy intake process where we had to present referrals and swear to uphold a lengthy list of requirements such as promising not to declaw him, take him regularly to the vet, etc we were allowed to bring Merlin home. Though there was an anguished moment when Nic asked Richard, “Dad, aren’t you so excited?” And Richard said loudly, “Yeah, right Nic. I am NOT excited to have this animal come home with us.” Meanwhile the manager of the shelter was standing behind Richard looking none too pleased. It was one of those moments when I thought our plans to adopt were dashed and Merlin would not be released to us after all. But even with Richard’s ill-timed, less than enthusiastic response, within hours Merlin was home and strutting about as if he owned the place and by the second day was scaling the curtains, climbing to the highest places he could find, walking like a tightrope walker along the curtain rods and then leaping down on top of us, much to our terror.
Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, Richard began to soften. Merlin being the brilliant cat that he is, immediately began following Richard around as though he were a faithful hound and NOT a cat at all. Within a week Richard was speaking to him and by the end of that first month it was clear Richard had succumbed to Merlin’s charms. In addition to all of this there were sightings by Nic of him using the toilet to pee and it was also around this time that Merlin taught us to play fetch with him, which sealed the deal for Richard who now cannot be away from Merlin for more than a few hours before mentioning him.
Please enjoy this video, shot by the ever adoring, Richard just last week while I go brine our turkey.