A British Shorthair Named Charlie

Charlie’s been my housemate for a few months now, and it’s hard to imagine that I ever lived in my apartment without a cat and a couch that wasn’t shredded. After our old family cat passed away, I was wondering if I’d ever get attached to another pet as strongly, but nope he’s my little treasure alright.

Here are some random facts and observations about Charlie:

Other names: Fluffkin, Flatface, Whosasweetlittleboy.

Charlie came with a pedigree chart tracing his noble lineage to the great-great-grandparents, full of bizarre names like Salome Snooty-Ma-Gooty, Polar Princess White, Bang Bang Blue and The Full Monty. His parents’ names are Banbury Blue and Miss Bossy Boots (the official terms for the male and female cat parents BTW are “sire” and “dam”). If I didn’t specify Charlie’s name when I put myself on the breeder’s waiting list, he no doubt would have been saddled with something equally over-the-top. A posh-sounding British name seemed appropriate, plus it’s a nerdy tribute to Professor Charles Xavier of X-Men, my favourite superhero.

Charlie spent the first day hiding in the bathroom, where he promptly climbed inside the bathroom cabinet. I never knew there was an opening at its base so I had to plug it up with a blanket. Very soon however I was able to coax him out of his terrified state with a fluffy toy, and the next morning he was already exploring my bedroom.

When he’s not sleeping in his favourite cat tree or observing the outside world from the window, Charlie wants to follow you around and see what you’re doing. When I cook he crouches on the kitchen floor and won’t budge even when raw onion makes his eyes tear up.

Charlie sleeps on my bed in the proper cat way, i.e. smack in the middle, so you either have to push him off to the side or arrange your legs accordingly. Guess which route I end up taking.

Like the generations of cats before him, Charlie figured out that if he plops on his back and curves his body just so, the humans will turn to goo and lavish him with affection and belly rubs.

Discipline has been a patchy business; Charlie managed to learn that he’s not to jump on the dining table while I’m having a meal, but you better not leave the food unattended or it will be stolen in a flash. He also seems to mostly regard my stern reproaches for pouncing on my legs as a fun part of the game, and keeps knocking the succulents off the windowsill during the night excursions along the kitchen bench which is supposed to be off-limits.

Sadly, introducing Charlie to my Mum’s cat, another British Shorthair, hasn’t so far resulted in a beautiful friendship. At most it’s been intense stare-offs accompanied by soft hissing, until someone loses their nerve and retreats. Oh well, one can dream.

Cat eyes are generally very expressive, but sometimes Charlie will give me a look that’s so sharp and penetrating it’s almost unnerving. You get a reminder that here in your home there’s a creature that is, for all purposes, an alien with its own alien intelligence. What’s going on behind those yellow eyes, and what do they see?

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