Cats are well-known for being solitary creatures by nature. That is a given, but it doesn’t take into account that the way how the kitten grows up is also affecting its personality. When sitting so-called rescue cats, I was quite surprised they were often quite to very sociable. What made sense to me, is that strays often live in groups for practical reasons: it is a way of protecting themselves. It may be a long shot, but it could also account for the fact that cats that have been among humans from early on (though not too early!), can be very good company.
Tommie was the personification of a social cat. As a kitten, he ended up living with a family with two young boys, where also a half a dozen of other young children were around the house on a daily basis. ‘Young’ in this case means under four, as Tommie’s owner facilitated a day-care at her home. With near certainty; only a kitten that feels completely at ease is able to maintain himself in such a situation. Cats do like predictability, and kids in general don’t fit that description.
This particular cat seemed to quite enjoyed human company. Upon arrival, I opened the front door with a key, finding myself face-to-face with a glum-looking cat. As I carried my luggage inside, he meowed plaintively, as if to say: “What kept you so long? I was all alone, all of that time!”
But as soon as I opened the door that was keeping us apart, all seemed to be forgotten. He was purring loudly and soon a conversation started: Tommie meowed, I chatted back to him. He was very easy to have around, wanting fuss as soon as we met and taking his place on my lap as soon as I sat down on the couch. That always happened following the same pattern; Tommie started searching for his position, which was usually facing me. He would then put his paws at the level of my bosom and started making a pumping motion. On most occasions, the nails would not be retracted. Thank goodness for padded bras!
There were no more than two times I had to tell Tommie off a bit. It was very well possible he perceived my laptop as an enemy with whom he had to share attention, as he would not stop walking back and forth over the keyboard while I was at work. It shouldn’t surprise that a plate full of food would appeal even more to him. Possibly a sign of intelligence, as a curious cat must be smart as well. Nevertheless, in both situations I reacted in the same manner: by putting him down on the floor, gently but decidedly.
Upon departure, Tommie was nowhere to be found. Knocking stuff around and carrying bags and suitcases was possibly not to his likings as he had hidden himself under the couch. In my imagination, I saw the same glum little face I had encountered upon arrival: “Hey, are you leaving already?”