When our son was born, everyone had the same question: What will the cats do? We were less worried about Hiboux—whose response to anything unfamiliar is to find a cozy, dark corner to hide away in—than about Mae.
Ah, Mae. The queen of the roost. When Mae is displeased, we are all aware. What’s more, she’s got claws… and she knows how to use them. So we were understandably nervous to bring home a newborn.
At first, she was mostly curious, sniffing around the sleeping, gurgling bundle that quickly became the center of attention. She was wary but intrigued.
Then, of course, Julian started to grow. And get around on his own. And explore, mostly by poking and chewing, anything that struck him as interesting. Which most certainly includes the cats.
The baby is 14 months old now, and while Hiboux disappears when he approaches, Mae has become gentle, kind and infinitely patient with him. Both our cats are fixed, but I honestly think that Mae has somehow identified Julian as offspring, as “kitten.”
Maybe that’s just my human interpretation, but I’ll tell you: When he pokes her, she purrs. When he drops a ball on her back while she’s eating, she purrs. When he grabs and pulls her ear, she purrs. The rest of us certainly couldn’t get away with those things.
The feeling’s clearly mutual. Julian’s first—and, thus far, only—word is, naturally, “cat.” I imagine this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
—Nina Hämmerling Smith
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