Yesterday I looked out the window and saw my daughter sitting in the grass astride our cat Gwydion. Yes, I mean riding him as if he was a horse.
Gwydion, for his part, was laying there patiently, letting her have her fun. I couldn’t hear it from where I was standing at the kitchen sink, but I can make a pretty good guess that he was purring.
Happily, for our family, our boy cat Gwydion is more like a dog/cat. He lets tiny people ride him. He has been used (more than once) as a highway for my son’s vehicles. If invited, he accompanies us on walks. And he genuinely loves all two-leggeds with a heartbeat; even the tiny ones that do strange things.
He is also unbelievably patient, generous, and doesn’t hold a grudge. He engages in age-appropriate teaching techniques with our children as well. Only when my son got to a certain age (and strength) did Gwydion start to school him on what was appropriate human/feline behavior. Tail pulling was no longer tolerated— it deserved a swat. And if Xylus didn’t receive the message, a second swat, with nails, was issued. If that didn’t work, or if crying ensued, Gwydion would resort to his default method of dealing with an over zealous toddler: get up and calmly walk away.
You could almost hear him saying, “We’ll try again later little tyke.”
At one point, our son was into screaming top-of-his-lungs at our cats— while running after them. As any self-preserving animal (with two or four legs) would do, both cats, Gwydion included, would break into their own run—away from the screeching mouth. But a while later, Gwydion would make his way back in the house, plop himself down in the middle of it all, wave his tail, and with an unbelievably open and curious countenance look around to see how this moment might be different than the last.
Now-a-days our beloved dog/cat is more often accosted by my daughter. They have several “check-ins” per day. She’s been animal crazy since she came out of the womb, and is therefore endowed with a more amiable and naturally sweet touch with the four-leggeds. Usually I find her with her face buried in his fur kissing him, or stroking his back softly, sometimes giving his nose a soft little scratch. She does usually force him to lay down to administer her affections, but I suppose he considers it a small price to pay for such genuine niceties. It’s a far cry from a tail pull or a screech in the face, and apparently his policy is, as long as you are under a certain weight, even cat-riding is acceptable.
Last photo by Jackie Cartier