The Pleasures of Vintage Cats

By Sheldon

Our current feline friends, Sophia (left) and Demosthenes.

Those who know us know that we have nearly always had at least one cat in the house. We tend to follow two rules: first, we adopt “rescue” cats or cats that would be bound for the pound if they weren’t adopted.  This includes feral cats, such as our first pair, Clio and Calliope, may they rest in peace.

The second rule is that we keep our cats indoors. This rules has been strictly observed, although the last year or two with our current pair of kitties, we do let them out for “supervised” time out on the back patio. There is also an old play fort that came with our house, and they sometimes like to hang out up there. The “no outside roaming” rule has been good for the cats because they live a lot longer: More than one veterinarian has encouraged us to stick with this policy. Lifespans for “outdoor” kitties are much shorter.

So far, our cats have all lived into their teens. Calliope lasted the longest, finally passing at the ripe old age of eighteen. This year, our cats Sophia and Demosthenes turn ten. Denise and I have both noticed that as cats approach the one-decade mark, there is a change of personality. It happens fairly quickly, over a period of a month or two. There is a marked mellowing, a deeper sense of companionship, more inclination to snuggle or other gestures of affection. Clio steadfastly would not sit on laps until she was ten, holding, no doubt, to some fragment of her self-image as a badass feral kitty. But then, in a very deliberate act designed to secure napping rights on a new futon, she got up on Denise’s lap. I guess she found it pleasant, because she was an enthusiastic lap cat for the rest of her days.

Growng Older, and Better

The interactions with older cats become, for lack of a better word, more intelligent. The ways an older cat will draw your attention to something or help to solve a problem can be remarkably astute. Consider one dark night when my spouse had to get up in the night and accidentally footed Clio, who was dozing in the doorway to the hall. The next night, Denise had to get up again, but fearing to repeat the incident, paused in the hallway where it was too dark to see anything. Clio solved the problem by coming over, and sitting on her foot. With the locations established, no more colllisions. Clio continued to do this afterwards.

Sophie and Demi have been remarkable friends. Since they were hand-raised with a bottle, they are even more socialized than the average house cat, but I’m starting to see that wisdom of age creeping in. Where Demosthenes would contemplate or even try to stalk a bird, now he’s just content to spread out on the patio and soak up the sun. Sophia, as ever, likes to ride around on my shoulder, but now especially enjoys perching up there when I’m doing some kind of handyman work around the house. It’s a delightful form of “help.”

If you own cats, consider keeping them inside not only for more years of companionship, but a friendship that turns into something quite remarkable, given enough time.


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