Being owned by a Bengal…

No, not a Bengal Tiger but damn close.

At two years old this month, Jethro (after my hero Leeroy Jethro Gibbs of favourite show NCIS) is fully grown and full of attitude. He slinks around his territory like a panther and treats me like a warm knee to sleep on/warm something to curl up in bed with/toilet cleaner/food bringer/companion and toy.

He jumps in the shower every morning to check there are no foul beasties lurking there for me. We play chase the length of the house which he particularly loves as he gets to skid on the wooden floors. We wrestle (no, not like I would with a tiger) where abouts he grabs my right arm, never my left, and continues to scratch, shred and bite. He’s not aggressive, I just play rough. We chat about cat things… Yes, in cat speak. I am adept at the intricasies and potential for disaster with this new language of which OH is completely ignorant.We head-butt (no, not me and OH) which is cat for hello.

At almost twenty five, I am THAT Cat Lady.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not as some are, a die-hard cat fanatic. In fact, I have absolutely no preference for either cats or dogs. I am not a ‘Cat Person’ or a ‘Dog Person’. I just happen to be owned by a cat and an infatuated with him. I do however see clearly now what my poor mother had been mocked for all the time I lived at home. She’s incredible; obsessive, possessive, passionate, caring, sensitive, totally hilarious, generous, opinionated, loving, creative and the most wonderful best friend. She just loves animals. They are her babies.

My parents taught me to see. It’s not as silly as it sounds. They taught me to watch and look, question and learn. Appreciate. That is seeing. I see things when I’m out on a walk that Other Half doesn’t even look at. When I explain why that tree is so interesting or point to yet another squirrel in the grass I don’t think he gets it. I’m no new age hippy but I can tell when Jethro is hungry, when he’s bored etc. Yes, it’s part of living with him every day but it’s also more than that. Small tells from an animal are IMPORTANT and many people don’t even notice them. Body language is SO important for animals and even humans subconsciously respond to it without engaging their brains to question WHY. When Jethro starts ripping up the carpet he’s not being badly behaved, he’s just bored. When he gets what the family call ‘Crazy Eyes’ dilated pupils, we know he’s stalking something and to get out of the way. My parent’s dog does this too; we know when she’s like that, she’s in the zone and nothing will distract her. She’s killed a baby chicken this way which Mam was devestated over but the dog did give the ‘tell’. She was very obviously in the zone. Since owning a cat I’ve appreciated silence more. Dog owners never get silence. My parents’ two Wiemeraners make noise even when they’re asleep- Kim snores, as she tucks her head into her chest too tightly and Charlie dreams, making whinnying noises somewhat like a wild Zebra.

People say you don’t understand what it is to be a parent until you’re a parent. After my folks bought me Jethro, I finally get it. Or something close to it. I know when I have kids I’ll know the difference but having Jethro, a creature you’re wholly responsible for, is a huge thing. I don’t think enough animal owners understand this, let alone some parents. I would run into a burning building to save him, some people might call me crazy and I am proud to say that this kind of crazy feeling is inherited from my mother.

I just feel better when I’m with my cat and Other Half. They’re my family and what’s more important than that?