7 Things About Oliver: Slice of Life 7/31 #sol20

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.

Normal tail
A small tail poof

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.

Oliver and Smudge (who always looks cranky in photos but isn’t)

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.

Hoping for a face bath but Toast ignored him

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.”

Rare detente with Chipotle, his #1 frenemy

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.

The long legs! The grapefruit belly!

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’s a lover, not a fighter

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.

36 responses to “7 Things About Oliver: Slice of Life 7/31 #sol20”

  1. Your writing has made me fall in love with Oliver! Your description of him is both simple and complex and this line was my favourite: “He falls off of things, and he has this incredibly uncoordinated drunken zig-zaggy run..” The image of this works its way into my mind so I picture it and each word contributes to the image.

  2. Oliver sounds like a very special cat. Of course, all cats are special. Your description of him and his mannerisms show his purrsonality and joy of greeting each day. Having multiple cats it is true that they have their own hierarchy. It is always interesting watching the cat dynamics.

    • Haha, yes, all cats are special. Like you, I love watching the cat dynamics and seeing their interactions. Endlessly fascinating. We spend WAY too much time (or rather, just the right amount of time!) discussing cat dynamics at my house!

  3. Your writing gives a clear picutre of your cat and your love for him. It is obvious that you spend alot of time with him because you can describe his antics so well.

    • He loves dogs, and we are hoping to get another one sometime this year. We are hoping that the dog will be Oliver’s new BFF, since he’s really out of luck with the other cats. When my son looks at potential dogs, he’s always asking “Does that one look like she’d like Oliver?” Hard to tell from a picture!

  4. Oh my goodness, I thought Chipotle was my favourite, but Oliver just stole my heart even if he is drippy and cruddy and odd-shaped. What a sweetheart. Thanks for making my heart expand just a little today.

  5. I think this is my favorite cat post you have ever written! (Of course, I think this with EVERY cat post!) Oliver is such a dear. Next to Chipotle, he has to be your second favorite. I love the puff levels!

    • Actually, Smudge might be my second favorite! But I don’t think I could write a blog post about Smudge. Oliver just lends himself to descriptive writing! Oliver is definitely 2B on the cat list!

  6. Your details really bring him to life! As I have said before, every time I read one of your cat slices, I want a kitten! And I don’t even really like cats all that much!

  7. “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.” I laughed out loud reading this! Oh, I’m so glad I came back to find this slice, it is glorious in every way. Delightful cat bounty as promised!

  8. I’ve been waiting for this post I started this comment on my phone & then got interrupted. I’m in love with Oliver! And not just because he looks like my very first cat, Tom! Your tribute is spot on perfect! “His needs are simple: a soft blanket, a bowl of food, his favorite toy, a sunbeam, a friend to bathe his cheek.”

  9. My daughter says the orange tabbies are the best of all tabbies because of their gentle nature. I have not had an orange one in several years, now having 3 black-multicolored male tabbies. I, too, love the poofs, wishing at least one of my cats had the lion feature!!! (This is your aunt in GA)

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