A Dog Named Jasper

I’m totally reminded of that horrible Nickelodeon show from back in the day when I say this, but it’s true. We totally have a cat that is part cat/part dog. Dogcat. Catdog. Weird but totally how he is.

Dave and I were dog people from the start. I had to give up a kitten as a little girl due to severe allergies (which, apparently, come out depending on the type of cat.) We both owned and adored our family dogs and always figured that we’d follow in the same footsteps. And we still may, some day.

But, then Beardslee came into our lives and it was a slippery slope from there. Winston was just begging to be our “second (in his mind ONLY) cat.” Then, Jasper just showed up on our doorstep on my birthday and our trio was complete.

The cool thing about Jasper is that I had always wanted a lap cat. Someone to snuggle with, to allow the use of my lap for a nap, who wouldn’t mind being picked up. He totally fit the bill, 100%. 

As time went on, though, I realized that he was so much more than just a snuggle buddy; he was the family dog.

Since it’ll probably (okay, definitely) be a challenge to handle Hadley + 3 very “unique” cats + any pups, it looks like the part of canine will be played by Jasper for the foreseeable future. And we’re totally fine with that. He’s freaking awesome. 

He’s got total dog tendencies. Here’s just a few:

– He chases his tail. Seriously. Catches it, then does it again. Falls down the stairs trying to catch that darn thing. (The sick joke? His tail is by far shorter than his two brethren. Winston stares at him like “That’s not hard. I could do that. I just don’t want to.”)

– He seems to think what Ricky Gervais (and many others, I’m sure) says that dogs think: Everything humans do is WONDERFUL. His huge eyes show a constant amazement at how awesome we are. The other two? Meh. Big deal, Mom. You made dinner. Whatever. Jasper? In awe.

– He lays underfoot. I’m sure other people have cats that do this, too, but Winston and Beardslee have a tendency to lay where they won’t be bothered; ie not in the middle of the room. JJ, however, tends to lay on his side, comfortably watching me put dishes away and prep food. He’s always nearby. Must. Know. Everything.

 Y’know that dumb stare? Totally a dog thing. The others have stares but they either mean that they’re juuuuuust about to doze off or are plotting evil revenge. Jasper’s stare is completely, utterly blank. Devoid of any thoughts whatsoever. Total “dumb dog.” (Remember: I love dogs! Dumb can be an awesome trait. And, no, not all dogs are dumb. But Jasper is totally a dumb dog.)

– He gets low grades for natural cat behavior. Jasper just isn’t great at BEING a cat, the poor thing. He has mastered going to the bathroom in the right spot (um, most of the time) and TRIES to cover it up, but he really…sucks at it. Beardslee used to sit by him as he went just so that he could hop in afterwards and give it a proper cleaning. And clawing at stuff? Definitely does it wrong. Oh, and he’s not skittish AT ALL. Two-year-old kid running straight at him? Doesn’t flinch. Doesn’t move. Just lets it happen.

– Food beggar. He doesn’t always do this, but when it’s a food item that he adores, he’s ON it. When my father-in-law comes, he always sits nearby in hopes that he’ll get some table scraps. No kidding. He’ll also eat pretty much anything you hand over. (That said, Winston loves Chinese. So, the one-to-two times a year we get it, he comes running.)

What about you? Do you have a pet that has some “weird” behavior? Does it make you love them all the more? Or just scratch your head?

Cat Relationships Be Weird, Yo

A vast majority of the time, our cats ignore each other. Sure, they full-on live with each other and at rare times even make eye contact. But, for the most part, they keep to themselves and seem to pretend that maybe, just for a mere second, they’re the “only cat.” And they’re each happy with that.

But what strange, subtle relationships exist. Staring ahead blankly while your brother cat licks your butt for five minutes straight. Sleeping on the opposite ends of a bed for literally the entire day (or sometimes even curled up near each other…merely for the heat source, of course, Mama; no affection intended here). Bathing each other without actually acknowledging each other. It takes a lot of talent to act that complacent.

Other times, they use each other as a means of getting food. Lately, we are incapable of sleeping past 5am (sometimes far earlier) without one of them becoming a wildcat due to an empty belly. Wildcat is code word for bully, but as we all learned in the school yard, “if someone hits ya, hit ’em right back.” {I, for one, disagree with that logic. My cats do not.} So, we have to hiss or stomp or spray them, which only keeps them apart for juuuuust enough time to snuggle back into our warm bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once fed, they go back to living in their own worlds.

Yet, we know. We know that, while he lives for the moments when his tiger brothers are napping away the day so that he can rub all over us and be the little-do-they-know kiss-up of the group, Winston adores his brothers. He especially loves Hadley. He’s almost always nearby, either watching Hadley play (partly with caution, partly as if to say, “Whatchya doin’?”) or curled up near his bedroom to keep an eye on things. Highly intelligent, I think he appreciates and relates to Hadley’s innate mischievous nature. 

Beardslee watches over him, too, but in a slightly more detached way. Actually, that’s pretty much his role in the house. He’s the boss supreme. Winston may be the brains of the operation, Beardslee has control and power. While he sleeps about 90% of the day away, he’s clearly king. If you pick him up (or do anything he doesn’t prefer), he’s got enough force in his body to push an adult human on their butt. Strong. But, he’s also the soulful, kind orange tabby that reminds us, daily, that our hearts would break without his constant presence. I cry just thinking about the day that he’s no longer with us.

Jasper, on the other hand, has always worn his heart on his sleeve. He loudly springboards into the crib and sometimes shares the end of the bed (or even lays ON the little guy’s legs and belly, much as he does with Dave) for entire naps. He instantly starts to purr when he is paid the least bit of attention. It’s so easy for Winston to goad Jasper into fights; you can just look at the boy and he’ll hop over to know what he can do for you. Craves love, the poor thing. The fact that he’s not the smartest of creatures makes him seem like a foreigner who sometimes doesn’t understand what you’re saying, but who lives life with a great passion. Where Beardslee’s the soul, Jasper’s the heart of the house.

While I know that Dave and I have changed, particularly in our life priorities and life choices, since having Hadley, I am incredibly proud that we haven’t changed in our opinions of our first “babies.” Over time, we’ve either heard stories or been told that “things would be different when we had our own” child. Kind of funny, but we always balked (and were offended) at the thought. No, we wouldn’t love them or treat them any differently. And, boy, am I happy to report that we were true to our word. We spend tons of time with Hadley and try to have fun and let him know how much we cherish him, but we still steal special time with each fur boy, in the form that they each enjoy – solo time [often “naked time” after a shower for Winston (he’s very European)], simple petting and praise for Boo, and cuddling in bed every night with Jasper.

And here I always thought I was a dog person who just happened to have three super special cats (which is true). Turns out, I’m just an animal person. Dave and I can’t wait to continue raising the next generation of animal lovers. 🙂