15: Miss Personality

Every pet owner thinks their pets have the most interesting personalities, and I am no exception. Medina, the calico female athlete of our family of four cats, is definitely the winner of the Miss Personality award. It’s not that the other three are not interesting personalities in their own right, but Medina’s quirks make her stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

Medina is a gourmet. My husband makes Medina a banana smoothie every morning. If you ask, he will claim that this smoothie is for me, his wife. However, when I was gone for a week attending a conference in Malaysia, he made the smoothie, and then doled it out, one saucer-full at a time, for the kitty. Un-huh, that smoothie is for me, sure it is. Besides, her saucer is always poured first – I get what’s left.  Not that I am ungrateful for the smoothie remains each morning, mind you, it is just knowing that I come off second best to Medina that chaps my nether regions.

Medina also likes her water fresh from the tap. So do all the other kitties, but Medina had to go one step further than just insisting on a fresh, just-filled bowl. She has to drink hers actually dripping from the tap. So, she has trained both of her human parents. When she jumps up to the sink and looks back over her shoulder at us, we obediently turn on the faucet so that the water is just dripping for her, not too fast and not too slow, just perfect, so she can get her drink. This practice necessitates that we actually stand there and wait until her highness has completed her drink so that we can then turn off the dripping faucet, too, of course. I am trained. How humiliating.

Medina has a favorite kitty toy. There is a shoebox full of various kitty toys that we, the kitty parents, have purchased for our four fur children. Several times a day, we humans pick up all the various toys and return them to the kitty toy box in the corner. When someone wants a toy, they go to the box and pick through the available selections for their favorites. Medina always chooses the same toy. It was a green fabric ball with green sequins, stuffed with a Styrofoam ball that had a jingle bell inside.  She has played with it so much that the seams came apart, most of the sequins are gone, the Styrofoam ball disintegrated, and the jingle bell fell out – somewhere unknown. Every time this favored toy gets to  looking too sad, I repair it for her. I have re-sewn this ball several times, re-stuffed it with various pillow stuffings, so she can still have her favorite. This is like a child with a favorite blankie, who cries whenever mom has to wash it and it is gone for a few hours.  It is still her favorite, and I plan to search high and low the next time we go to that store (in SPAIN) to see if I can get her another one just like it. She loves this toy and routinely kills it several times a day, leaving its sad, bedraggled body lying in the floor for me to pick up and return to the toy box so she can find it the next time she wants to kill it. She will sort through the toys in the box, hunting for her favorite, if that one is not lying on top.

Medina prefers to steal her kitty kibble. There are four bowls of kitty kibble in our apartment, so that each fur child has a separate bowl. It is not like there is a crowd. But, whenever the bowls get low and need refills, Medina gets all excited that the big canister of kitty kibble is  coming out of the cabinet. She jumps to the table, and waits impatiently until the canister lid is removed to fill the waiting bowls. Then, she  eagerly and greedily takes huge, open-jawed mouthfuls of the kibble inside the canister, completely disregarding the fact that I am filling all four kitty bowls with the exact same kibble. She continues wolfing down the “forbidden” kibble in the canister until all the bowls are filled, and the canister is returned to the cabinet. Trying to perform this task quietly and secretly is a waste of time, because Medina has the most sensitive ears and nose of all the four kitties. She is always the first to hear a can of tuna being opened, or to smell meat cooking on the stove. Always. So, we “allow” the little thief to eat her fill while the kibble bowls are being refilled. And woe betide any piece of meat left unattended on the kitchen counter for a minute – it becomes kitty food before you can blink!

Medina has a favorite spot. In the morning and evening, Fez, another interesting fur child, comes to the bed and requests a mom loving session. Fez climbs on my chest and belly, starts purring and licking me with her sandpaper tongue, and expects strokes, scratches and cuddles. Medina, on the other hand, wants to get into her tent. This tent is formed when I draw up my knees, making a space underneath the covers. Medina worms her way under the covers, sliding silkily down my side, until she arrives at the space formed behind – or is it underneath?  – my upraised knees. There, she settles down for a nap. I think it is because the space is warm from my body heat that she likes it so much. I try to be considerate and not pass gas. She is the kitty of the four who most appreciates the fireplace, too. She will get as close as she possibly can to the flames and simply bask – there is no other word – bask in the heat. Actually all four of them love the fireplace, and when there is a fire, they will all lie down in a semi-circle in front of it, like worshippers at a sacred altar. I used to think lighting a fire was for us two old married folks, because it is romantic. Now I wonder.

Medina is a dancer. Our apartment has very high cathedral ceilings. Because of this, we have constructed a loft – a mezzanine, a sort of second floor area where we have extra storage, another bedroom, a little office and various other things that just don’t fit too well into our original little one-bedroom apartment. It is reached by a ladder that goes straight up to the second floor. The cats have all learned to climb this ladder, and to come down the same way. They all shoot up the ladder with ease, hopping nimbly from one step to the next, looking graceful and taking the rungs quickly and swiftly. They each, however, have developed a different system for coming down. Sugar Daddy, the big male, carefully climbs down two or maybe three steps, and then jumps the rest of the way, disdaining the last rungs of the ladder. Souk descends head first, almost running down the rungs the same way she climbs up. Fez clumsily navigates down the rungs, catching my heart in my throat as I watch her, fearing that she will fall each and every time- but she never does. Medina has her own system. She reaches down for the next lowest rung with her front feet, and then twists to the side as she brings her back half gracefully down to the same level, like a ballerina completing a complicated gymnastic feat. She will dramatically pause, and then reach down for the next lowest rung, gracefully and in slow motion completing the twist and turn maneuver again, one rung at a time. It is a graceful, elegant dance, precise and perfect.

Medina hunts flies. Whenever she sees one, there is this odd little meow that she utters, lower jaw trembling with excitement, which gives this strange little meow an interesting wobbly sound that is quite different from any other meow she makes. Usually her meows are authoritative, louder and much less ignorable than the others. This one is almost a whisper. Then she stalks her prey. She usually misses at the critical pounce, but she is undeterred because she has actually caught a few of them, which she promptly eats. Might explain why she does not get mommy kisses.

Medina steals things. She has very much like what I have heard described as pack-rat behavior. She likes pencils, pens and markers best, but she does not restrict her attentions to just these items. When she sees a pencil (you using it notwithstanding), she will nonchalantly saunter over close by. When you put the pencil down and are not looking, she will slowly, carefully and precisely slide down to the middle of the pencil (she has learned they balance better when you pick them up in the middle), pick it up between her teeth, and stealthily make off with it. Then when you reach again for the pencil you just had, it’s gone. MEDINA! When we move furniture in the apartment for cleaning, it is amazing what treasures we discover, pushed underneath to full kitty arm reach length.

Medina is not a bully, but she can’t let a challenge pass. Souk has an annoying habit of growling at her house sisters. They might be walking by, minding their own kitty business, and Souk, for some unknown reason, will growl: “don’t even think of messing with me!” Now, regardless of the fact that Medina clearly had no previous intention whatsoever of messing with Souk, because of the growl, it is ON. Then mom and/or dad have to break up the squabble. So annoying. If Souk just would not growl, there would BE no squabble. If Medina could let a double-dog dare pass (which the growl obviously IS in kitty terms) there would BE no squabble. But, neither of them appears able to restrain themselves. I wonder – are they playing, or is it serious?

Medina is the scientist of the family. One interesting thing she cannot figure out is ice cubes in her water bowl. She cannot resist investigating these things, until there is a ring of water on the floor around the bowl a foot wide, and she is soaked up to her kitty elbows, and the cubes are all melted. You might think that cats would avoid water like that, but she is so fascinated with those things floating in the water, she just can’t help herself. The other cats are clearly uninterested in this experiment, but she will repeat it over and over as she tries to figure it out, and the ice cubes never lose their charm, at least until they melt.

Medina is a drama queen. She has very authorative meows, loud and strident, absolutely not ignorable, like the tiny, polite little mews of the other three cats. But, when you pick Medina up, she gives a totally different sounding, strangled-sort of meow that clearly communicates: “you are squashing me!!!” – even when you are NOT squashing her at all. And she does this act each and every time she is picked up, too. She just does not like being picked up, and she is playing to the crowd with that dramatic-sounding squished-kitty meow.

Medina is Miss Personality. I should get her a tag for her collar, engraved with her title.

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