It all started when my sister called my husband and me to tell us about a “really nice cat” in her neighbor’s garden. Little did we know that, in a few short days, the part Persian mass of black fur would become part of our household–and our lives.
No one knew where she had come from, but she had obviously belonged to someone. The veterinarian my sister took her to disclosed that she had been fixed, and he surmised that she was about a year old.
Knowing she wouldn’t want to meet our Siamese, Coco, right away, we put her on the breezeway when we brought her home, and she immediately ran behind the washer. No amount of coaxing would bring her out, so I finally placed some food on the floor. Before I could exit the room, she appeared and became my instant friend. (She must have thought anyone who would give her food must be okay.) Just minutes later she allowed me to pick her up, then she half-reclined on my lap on the couch, seeming accustomed to such pleasures.
We decided to call her Velvet, since that’s exactly what the top of her head felt like, but I noticed it meant nothing to her at first when I called her name. But after two or three days, she responded immediately, thrilled that someone cared enough to spend time with her.
As we gradually introduced her to Coco, also one year of age, we realized how different she was from the melancholy Siamese. Instead of having a love for classical music, as he did, she was enamored by anything mechanical or technical. Over the years, she had a habit of overseeing work done by professionals, and listening to the dishwasher in fascination. We decided if our two cats could become people, Coco would be a poet or artist, and Velvet would be a handyman.
After the two matured to the age of about fourteen, we lost Coco to illness, making Velvet the only cat. Since we lived in an apartment at the time, her outside privileges were limited to a tiny balcony which overlooked some woods. There were occasionally birds and squirrels for her to watch, but she liked to be out on the grass, flat to the ground, stalking them (at least in her mind).
Without her companion to help her wile away the hours, she took note of the words running along the bottom of our television screen. She was especially interested in sports scores. After awhile she became excited by craft makers whose hands looked enormous, and that moved so quickly. She would jump up and try to catch their fingers, batting the screen with her soft paws. Eventually she started watching sports–especially golf and basketball–sitting right in front of the set, following all action with rapt attention.
But as all good things must come to an end, our seventeen-year-old console TV died suddenly one night, much to the chagrin of our household. We knew we couldn’t find one just like it, with the wood-grain covering, but we did the best we could, elevating the new set slightly. And while my husband and I appreciated the newly-found colors that had disappeared from our old TV, Velvet refused to acknowledge its presence. Gone was the request, first thing in the morning, for us to turn on the box of energy she had grown accustomed to. She seemed to think we had taken away her toy because she like it so much. (Or that it was with Coco at the mansion he now lived in.)
After a couple of months, she started glancing up at the impostor from the floor, realizing that she didn’t have to sit right next to a television to view its images. Next she seemed to watch from a chair. We had been concerned about having her so close to the other set, so that part worked out well. However, she never completely warmed up to the new TV. Somehow it just wasn’t the same as her wood-paneled friend who sat with her on the floor.