Tallulah Bankkitty, better known as Lulu, is part Scarlett O’Hara, part Tinkerbell, and part Bonnie Parker. She is the minxiest, smartest, flirtiest, cleverest little soul, and I am lucky to have her. But, as my mother says, she is very much a fulltime cat. She is also the most enthusiastically involved and interactive literary cat I’ve ever known.
Let me describe a typical morning. Today for instance, Lulu is having a very busy day, even for Lulu, who is always busy. One of the reasons she’s so busy is that my boyfriend Louis and I both work out of our home, and this means she is constantly running between offices to help us with things. First, she participated in Louis’s morning work-related telephone conference, performing flips and somersaults at his feet, and when that didn’t work, climbing all over him– lap, shoulders, the arm and back of his desk chair, and when that didn’t work, sitting on his keyboard and petting him.
As soon as he hung up the phone, she was, of course, finished. In those moments, it’s really about the attention being paid elsewhere and not some urgent desire to bond with us. She then joined me down the hall in my office where she pulled numerous pages out of the printer, and then climbed on top of it, as she always does, in order to better get her paw inside and figure out its inner workings. When we were done printing, she retired to the water bowl for some much-needed hydration, and that was when the real drama began.
I moved the bowl yesterday, just four feet from where it originally sat, since her dear brother Rumi, as sweet and innocent and perpetually confused as Lulu is shrewd and sassy and deductive, needs to dig at the water in order to see it (he is part-Siamese and has slightly crossed eyes that wiggle), and I was trying to salvage the wood floor from where it was beginning to warp from all that sloshed liquid.
This morning, after Lulu finished her telephone conference and her printing duties, I heard a series of thuds and scrapings, like a body was being dragged a great distance, and there was Lulu, pushing the bowl back to its original place, first with her paw, then with her nose, water splashing everywhere. I said what I always say when she does something she shouldn’t be doing: “No ma’am.” I try to say it reasonably but firmly, knowing full well she’s aware that she’s doing something she shouldn’t be doing which is, of course, why she’s doing it. She stopped– as she always does when I say this– and blinked at me, and then proceeded to go on doing it until the bowl was back in its original place. She sat down then and drank and, when she was done, she left, off to hunt her favorite orange earplugs, the ones we bought her in bulk for Christmas because she kept stealing mine. Out of my ears. As I was sleeping.
After a ferocious game of earplug hockey, it was time for Mistress of the Jungle, as my mom calls it, which is what Lulu sounds like when she races up and down our rather long hallway, ears flattened against her head, tail puffed out as big as a skunk’s, growling like something out of the deep, dark woods (we call it the Great Throaty Beastess). This is especially disconcerting given that she’s tiny and weighs just eight pounds and her regular meows are nothing more than squeaks. When she transforms into Mistress of the Jungle, as she does every day, her brothers Rumi and Satchmo (our shy and portly, almost eternally patient former dumpster cat) scurry out of the way and peek at her from around doorways, a bit alarmed and, in Rumi’s case, terrified, since he seems to temporarily forget who she is.
This carried on for ten minutes, and then she marched back into my office and, after checking to make sure the water bowl was still where she had moved it earlier, sat beside my keyboard and stared at the monitor, huge green eyes blinking dreamily and a bit sleepily, watching me write. Mercifully, she did this for an hour (she actually does this daily, as if we’re writing the book together), which gave me the chance to do a good bit of writing uninterrupted.
Then, bored with that, she arranged herself on my lap with her head thrown back against the keyboard and watched me from that angle.
When I didn’t pay enough attention to her (I was, after all, trying to write a book), she jumped down and flounced over to my reading chair, just beside my desk, where she proceeded to Give Me The Back, as we call it.
After I apologized and told her how pretty she was (“pretty” is her favorite word), she returned to my desk, where I managed to admire her sufficiently and pet her with one hand while typing with the other. After a few minutes, I stopped typing (but not petting) to go back over something I’d written, reading it aloud to Lulu, who listened for approximately 45 seconds before she got so bored she had to take herself off for a nap in the cat bed that sits on a corner of my desk.
This was my cue to do what I always do when Lulu takes herself off for a nap– I started writing furiously. And so I will write furiously for the next ten minutes or two hours that she’s asleep, until she gets up and decides to rearrange all the index cards (i.e. the outline of my next chapter) that are so meticulously, carefully, painstakingly arranged on my desk.
Update: An hour later, I got up to stretch my legs and return the water bowl to its new place. Three hours later, Lulu has just moved the water bowl back again.