His tail has a life of its own. He has a long skinny pencil of a tail that puffs magnificently when he gets himself wound up–which is several times every day. He has small poof, medium poof, and large poof levels, and usually displays all three within the same play time. He even does a very convincing lion tail that poofs only at the tip. I’ve never gotten a good photograph of the very fullest poof he’s capable of, because in that mode, he’s generally tearing wildly from room to room. But it’s something else: use both of your hands to make a circle shape, and that’s what his tail can do. He also has very, very short fur, which makes the poof even more impressive.
His dream is to have his very own BFF. It’s hard being the youngest in a big family where the dynamics were already established before you arrived. The kittens (who are not kittens, but they used to be kittens, and now they will forever be called kittens) mostly tolerate him, but they are BFFs with each other, and there is only so much space in their hearts for another. It’s hard to watch Oliver’s constant bids for connection meet rejection–always with a growl and a slap from Zorro, sometimes with a fierce bite from Toast, and usually with a turned back from Chipotle. I’ve never thought I could see a cat’s hurt feelings before, but Oliver definitely has them. At least he has Smudge and Panda, who are reliable snugglers and wrestling partners.
Unlike most cats, he doesn’t ever know how to play it cool. When his people walk into the room, his purr rumbles to life, and he flops over for a belly rub and begins kneading the air. When he sees another cat bathing themselves, he lopes over and shoves his head under their chin to get a little cleaning for himself.
He goes to the vet so often that he has two of them, and neither one can figure out what’s wrong with him. His eyes run constantly, his nose clogs with black crust, he wheezes and rattles when he breathes, he has terrible gas. One of his vets has a theory that he was separated from his mother too soon, and his immune system didn’t develop properly. Occasionally they put him on a course of antibiotics or give him a steroid shot, and both seem to work for a bit, then he’s back to his usual drippy, smelly, cruddy self. “Look at you!” my son says in disgust at least once a week. “No wonder the other cats don’t like you.”
He has a rather unfortunate shape. Endless long legs, skinny tail that goes on forever, small head, narrow shoulders and hips, and then there is the belly. He looks like he swallowed a grapefruit. I keep thinking that he’ll grow into himself somehow, but he’s two years old now, and I think this may just be what he looks like.
He’s sneaky athletic, even though he certainly doesn’t look like an athlete. There’s the unfortunate shape, and then he also moves like he just learned how to run earlier in the day. He’s not remotely graceful. He falls off of things, and he has this incredibly uncoordinated drunken zig-zaggy run. But those kangaroo legs propel him to surprisingly smooth and high jumps, and when he’s racing alongside another cat, they look like they’re all out sprinting while he’s just loping along. We’re pretty sure he’s got another couple of gears in there that have never been tested. And those legs may not look like much, but they’re incredibly strong. He is by far the strongest cat in the house, but he doesn’t use his strength against the others. If you wrestle with Oliver, he’ll probably let you win.
He is such a purely sweet being. He is always happy, even when things aren’t going his way. Even when it’s clear he doesn’t feel good, he’s always glad for a head scratch and belly rub. I have never once seen his ears flick backwards in irritation, even though he has to take a lot of crap from the other cats. His needs are simple: a soft blanket, a bowl of food, his favorite toy, a sunbeam, a friend to bathe his cheek.