Filo & Cheng - 'The Odd Couple'... A True Short Story
Cats are highly sensitive creatures that view everything in their world rather seriously. Rebuffs are taken personally as they have feelings that can be hurt. Still waters run deep, and our feline friends are perceptive to significant changes in the household. My son and daughter-in-law have two fascinating cats, Filo and Cheng. Several weeks ago, my first grandchild was born. Her name is Charlotte – Charlie is her nickname –a beautiful angel who instantly captures the heart. What follows is an interesting story about the change in the relationship dynamics of Filo and Cheng when sweet Charlie arrived.
Cheng is a stunning Siamese that doesn’t realize who or what he is, having missed cat orientation somewhere along the line. His personality is an endearing combination of ET and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. He seems to be lost on a perpetual high, or the victim of a reincarnation that somehow went terribly awry. One of the gentlest creatures on this planet, he has the round, expressive eyes of a baby seal. (I just love this little fellow.)
Cheng maneuvers through cat-world the way we would the Twilight Zone. For example, there was the time he caught his head between the spokes of the stair railing and couldn’t figure out how to dislodge it. Although Cheng is nearly 6, he’s still trying to navigate his kitty litter box. He gingerly places his feet inside the box while searching in panic mode for the right position. Unfortunately, his little butt often ends up dangling over the side. (You can guess the end result.)
Cheng is also timid of any form of human contact and avoids visitors like the plague. On the rare occasion he enters a room with people, it’s by sheer accident. When he realizes his mistake, he hugs the wall like a diminutive fawn whose eyes are caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. He sometimes bumps into the furniture because his attention is too focused on the room’s occupants as he frantically searches for an escape.
Filo is older and the antithesis of Cheng. He is a beautiful, slender tabby with a ginger-colored coat and stealth-like stare that is distinctly cat. He’s never experienced an identity crisis and is the consummate alpha -- very smart and a tad unpredictable. One of his favorite 'get-the-guest' ploys was to lie in wait outside a closed bedroom or bathroom door. Whenever house guests opened the door, they’d look down to see Filo, glaring upward in a crouched, ready to pounce position as if he were channeling Scar from The Lion King. We’d fully expect to hear Jeremy Iron’s velvet, menacing voice-over: “Going myyyy way?” To be fair, Filo has mellowed over the past couple of years.
My son’s home is unmistakably Filo’s turf, and my daughter-in-law is his beloved mistress. He adores her and she loves him, dearly. in return. Unlike Cheng, Filo enters a room with confidence and purpose. Despite repeated coaxing, he ignores all guests – not out of fear, but rather out of indifference. He’ll perch on the back of the living room sofa, poker-faced, as he surveys the human trespassers to his domain.
Filo gamely tolerates Cheng as his subjugated, feline companion. His attitude toward his buddy usually sways between acceptance and disdain or pity. With Cheng, it’s more like, “Hey…that’s cool; you’re my size, walk on four legs and have fur, so I guess there’s safety in numbers.” Although they never fight, these two have definitely taken ‘The Odd Couple’ to new a new dimension.
When my son and daughter-in-law brought darling Charlie home from the hospital, much of what I have described about Filo-Cheng World shifted dramatically. Cheng calmly walked into the living room where we were all seated. Without an ounce of fear, he walked over to my daughter-in-law who was nursing Charlie at the time. He sat directly in front of them and looked up, mesmerized with gentle awe, love and respect. To our added amazement, he also demonstrated affection to us by making body contact and stroking our legs. To this day, he continues to worship Charlie…he clearly loves her.
Filo intentionally ignored Charlie as well as his beloved mistress in spite of her loving attempts to cajole and persuade. Instead, he approached the family guests he had previously snubbed, and began to lick their hands with the cool aplomb of a feline Machiavelli. Six weeks have since passed and, sadly, the ice still hasn’t broken with Filo. Hopefully, spring will bring the welcomed thaw.
Transformations, jealousy, misunderstandings, and sensitivity are not confined to the human world. I am still convinced that animals are amazing teachers and often smarter than people. At the very least, they help to expand our consciousness.
Copyright © 2013 Genna East All Rights Reserved.
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