Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jack Finds His Voice

We have a new cat in our family, named Jack. He was born on Mother's day and I got him in August when he was a tiny ball of fluff, thinking that he would make a great companion for our 1.5 year-old cat, Gus. Jack was a very quiet little guy. When I was staying with my mom, I hardly ever heard him meow. The day I took him to the vet for his vaccinations and travel papers, he didn't make a peep.

When we got home from the vet, his back was sticky with lidocaine gel they used to numb his skin to implant his microchip so I decided to give him a bath. It turned out to be the only time he ever got loud. I have NEVER heard a cat scream like that! It was obvious he was saying that he did not like water. I gave him his bath in the apartment building's laundry room. My mom could hear it in her apartment. A neighbor came to see what the ruckus was. He was LOUD. After the bath, he went back to silence. In fact, the day we came home, he meowed once when we got in the car and didn't make another sound through the airport, the plane and the shuttle ride.

And then we got home.

And Jack met Gus.

And Jack found his voice.

Right away when we got home, I put Jack, still in his carrier, on my bed. I thought I had safely closed the door, but Champs followed me into the room and, without realizing what was at stake, left the door open. I didn't realize until it was too late. Gus came into our room, jumped up onto the bed and walked directly to the cat carrier. Remember the scream I described when I bathed Jack? Yeah, he did that. Terrifyingly. Loudly. Repeatedly. Pressed to translate, I think it meant something along the lines of "hey, no one told me there was going to be a huge cat here! I'm stuck in a bag! I can't defend myself! Get rid of it!"

We quickly separated the cats and got Jack calmed down. That night we kept Jack in our room and Gus had the run of the entire house. You would have thought they would have wanted to stay apart, but instead they spent the night just 8 inches apart with only our door between them. And they discussed the situation. Loudly. In detail. All. Night. Long. Both cats meowed and hissed until I was ready to give them away. Determined not to go through another night like that, we introduced them the next day.

The next night, both cats were banned from our room and had the run of the house. Didn't help. They went from hissing and yelling at each other through the door to doing it outside our door. Loudly.

Now, almost a month after we came home, Jack and Gus have made friends. Things have calmed down. And Jack, amazingly enough, is still talking.

My formerly quiet kitten has turned into a lippy teen. Believe it or not, I know what he is saying most of the time. Here is a short list of Jack speak:

* A quiet "mmmm. mmmm. mmmm." means "here I am Mommy."
* A quiet "mmmm? mmmm? mmmm?" means "will you pretty please scratch my tummy?"
* A medium "meeeeraow?" means "where are you Gus?"
* A loud "Meeraow!" means "please make Sweet Girl put me down!"
* A really loud "Mawl! MawL!" means "I'm gonna take you down, Gus!"

And, oh yeah: An ear-splitting scream still means "I TOLD YOU ONCE I DON'T LIKE BATHS!"

Comments on this post:
Thumper said...
At least they made friends. My two tolerate each other, but there's no love lost between them. Buddah recently realized he's as big as Max, so the dominance struggles have begun, and I get to hear alllllll about it from Max, who has no problem with complaining.
They really are like teenagers...

kenju said...
Too funny! I have one cat who never made a sound until this year. Somehow I think he didn't know he could until recently...LOL
Now he meows at every turn. The other one doesn't meow, but he says "huh"...although it sounds more like "eerk" every morning when I wake up.

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