These are my cats. They are very nice looking cats, although not the brightest cats I’ve ever had. In fact, we deploy a list of old-fashioned expressions to describe their capacities: a few keys short of a piano; not the sharpest knives in the drawer; just one taco shy of a combo.
Coleman frequently appears startled by, well, anything new, and many things that one would think are familiar, such as me putting on my coat. His most noble characteristic is his fidelity. He follows me all around the house with big-eyed devotion and settles down near wherever I am. Also, he believes that my highest calling in life is to brush him. Get that brush out, woman, is his motto. When I am taking a bath, he is sitting next to the bathtub, meowing anxiously. When I working, he is winding around the legs of the chair, meowing. He’s meowing right now because I am typing this rather than brushing him.
You brush Coleman while he lies on his side, or sits sphinx, and all the while he is meowing at you. While you brush you whisper What a fine man and Coley. Sometimes he gets so excited about being brushed that he forgets himself and tries to scratch you. When you see that coming, and you will, it is a good idea to distract him with a small catnip toy. He will bite it furiously while you take care of his sides and stomach.
Jane has a more distant approach to relationships with humanity. She is the family’s stern, reticent monitor of etiquette. For instance, she rarely meows. She just doesn’t. She figures you already know the rules and what she expects from you. If she has not known you for quite some time, she won’t give you the time of day, nor does she accept it from you. She and Coleman have been with us for more than four years, but only this past winter did she decide that this whole physical affection thing, such as sitting on a lap or having a head scratch, is really pretty great, rather than a violation of the social code.
Jane has very exact needs for her brushing regimen. She needs to stand by one of the living room chairs. and then walk back and forth, pressing up against the chairs with one flank while you brush the other. After a while she will flop onto the floor to have her white stomach and throat brushed. At this point, it is necessary that you tell her “you are the littlest girl,” and “Janey.” If you do not say these things, she will get up and walk away. If she is really pleased by the brushing, she will pull herself along the carpet, her eyes narrow with joy, while you scuttle after her, providing a steady stream of brushing.
The ideal brush, by the way, is a stiffish slicker brush for a small dog. That’s the one they really like.
Coleman can be brushed all day, but Jane runs out of patience after four or five minutes.
By the way, if you switch the things you say to them, for instance telling Coley he is the littlest girl, both cats will look at you like you are a total fool. We may not be geniuses, but we’re not stupid.