And baby makes five—from cat in a wolverine suit

Having our second child was an interesting event. My lap had always been owned, lock stock and barrel, by Farley, our cat. As my pregnancy progressed and his lap space got smaller, he relocated his perch to more of a cross-belly lounge. He only became mildly disgruntled if baby got crowded and kicked. When Dougie came home from the hospital though … now that was a whole new ball game. Suddenly Farley had to compete for what was rightfully his.

Farley’s ability to communicate with me was always clear and to the point.

I’d been home from the hospital for about a week and was still trying to work out the baby’s schedule (and completely restructure my life!). My friend Vince, who’d recently moved into the trailer court, dropped by for a visit. We settled ourselves with coffees and baby to chat. Farley was a fairly sociable guy, but usually kept his distance from visitors. He would approach them and acknowledge their existence with a casual tail stroke as he moseyed past them on his way to my lap. He enjoyed having lap and rubs when people came by, spreading his body along the length of my thighs with a paw on each knee, observing the visitor with half-lidded eyes as he purred and drooled while alternately puncturing my kneecaps with his kneading claws.

This day, he strolled in to the living room and surveyed the offending object in my (his) lap and frowned. With a great stretch and a flip of his tail, he dismissed the baby and I, turned to Vince and leapt into his lap! Vince is a cat person, so it wasn’t a big deal for him. But I was surprised as Farley never snuggled with casual acquaintances. And snuggle he did. He made a huge production of kneading Vince, bunting his chin with the top of his head, then sprawling in Vince’s lap like a Vargas Girl, belly up, with a satisfied smirk on his face. The entire time he kept me fixed with his penetrating green stare as though to say, “See, you’re not the only one. I can get my loving somewhere else if I so choose.”

From that day forth he always had a kind of love/hate relationship with Dougie. He loved to sleep in the crib, loved to eat teething biscuits fed to him from Dougie’s chubby fist. He kept watch on the baby and let me know that he expected the squalling brat to be tended to before he started to cry, not after.

As Dougie grew older, Farley submitted to an equal sharing of attention between us and basically decided that Dougie would be his pet. Farley tolerated almost any indignity that the tot put him through except the face-in-the-belly snuggle. Farley had the softest fur, thick and fine like a prime lynx pelt. His top colours were a blend of charcoal, gray and tawny beige, which gave him a wolverine-like appearance. His belly fur was a luxurious pillow of creamy softness flecked with little black spots. Dougie couldn’t resist shoving his face into that fat, cottony belly at any opportunity. This action would immediately result in Farley seizing the boy’s entire head in a grip like a bear-trap. I’d have to extricate the shrieking child with a smack to Farley’s behind.

Needless to say, all throughout his childhood, Dougie’s school photographs would feature a handsome little blond boy who looked like he’d been in a street brawl. You’d think the kid woulda learned, but he always went back for more! Fortunately there was no permanent scarring.

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