6 Things You Should Know about Panda: Slice of Life 23/31 #sol20

Today I am challenging myself to write about Panda, the world’s least interesting cat. It’s difficult to put into words what it is that makes Panda so supremely uninteresting. He is neither smart nor stupid, neither affectionate nor standoffish, neither happy nor cranky, neither serious nor funny.

His mother and his siblings sparkle with personality and charm, and then there is Panda, staring around rather blankly. They are such personable cats: when you look into their eyes, you feel connected to them, in relationship, like you know them and they know you. Even though I’ve lived with Panda for nearly three years, he is a stranger to me.

Perhaps it’s a failing on my part, but I am not sure there is much there to get to know. He is a handsome cat, but it’s hard to think of one cute or amusing thing he has ever done. Okay, there is one cute thing he does, though it’s also kind of annoying. A few times a week, he carries a stuffed toy around in his mouth and meows loudly, repeatedly, frantically through the toy. The other cats, by contrast, do dozens of cute and amusing things every day that are not the least bit annoying. Panda never quite seems to be enjoying himself, even though he also never quite seems to be not enjoying himself.

One. He still flinches nearly every time he’s touched. He is affectionate enough. He sleeps in the crook of my husband’s arm every night, likes to be picked up and held and pet by my husband a couple of times a day. Oddly, Panda was the first in his family that I touched: he allowed me to pet him when he was still fully feral living outdoors. And he was the only one of the little family I could simply pick up and carry inside when it came time to rescue them. It seemed to bode well for his future as a loving housecat. But even when he sees the hand coming towards him to pet him–and we try to always let him know that we’re about to pet him so that he won’t flinch–he never seems quite ready for it.

Panda with his mama, Barbara, when they were still feral

Two. He had one bright and shining moment as a kitten, a moment of true heroism. Poor Chipotle took three days to catch, so while his siblings and mama were safely inside, he was pitifully alone outdoors. When I finally caught him and brought him into the room with his family, they all scattered and hid. Chipotle dashed under a shelf on the other side of the room and cried loudly. I thought his mama would come to find this kitten who had been missing for days. But nope, she stayed hidden behind a chair. Instead, it was Panda who scrambled out, dashed across the room under the bookshelf, and herded his screaming little bro back across the room to mama cat.

The bros, Panda and Chipotle
More bros

Three. He is every cat’s BFF. I call him the passepartout, the master key that fits everywhere. He wrestles with everyone, snuggles with everyone, chases with everyone. Zorro does not like other cats at all, but he loves Panda. Even when Zorro is angry at Oliver or at life and takes his feelings out by swatting Panda, Panda never gets cross. And Panda was truly gentle and supportive with Abby as she gradually became more ill. He spent hours by her side, allowing her to use him as a pillow. Some nights, she literally crawled fully on top of him and fell asleep.

BFFs but not bros (Zorro has his arm across Panda’s back)
Oliver and Panda
Abby with her emotional support cat, Panda

Four. He has never taken a bad photograph. I have hundreds of bad cat photos on my phone–bad light, out of focus, eyes closed, ears back, one eye closed, mid-yawn, back of head, etc. I don’t have one single bad photo of Panda. Not one. Even out of focus, he’s a handsome thing. And unlike his siblings, who are nearly unrecognizable in their kitten photos, Panda still looks exactly the same as he did as a kitten.

Smudge finally grew into those ears; Panda hasn’t changed at all

Five. He has one bad habit: he likes to roll in cat litter. At least once a day he pops up from the basement absolutely coated in grit and dust. But he has this magical fur that somehow self-cleans within minutes, and suddenly he’s this gorgeous glossy clean thing again.

Panda and Toast or maybe that’s Smudge
Zorro, Panda, and Oliver

Six. It probably tells you everything you need to know about Panda that I can only think of five things you should know about him.

26 thoughts on “6 Things You Should Know about Panda: Slice of Life 23/31 #sol20

  1. I love all the photos!! Poor Panda…I wonder if he would have a personality if he weren’t surrounded by so MUCH personality! Maybe he would be quiet but dependable, always there when he was most needed. It does sound like he has come through in times of distress for both Chipotle and Abby and even Zorro. I’m glad you gave him a feature blog post instead of only mentioning him if he happened to be in a photo with one of the others.

    • I didn’t think I could write a whole post about Panda, but even the world’s least interesting cat inspires me as a writer! You do have a point about his personality and how easy it is to be overshadowed by cats who have tons of personality like Zorro and Chipotle.

  2. Panda is so much like Molly. She cringed when a hand reaches out to let her even though in the fourteen years we have we never once used our hands for anything but petting. I think Panda’s uniqueness is the fact that he is not unique in a roomful of other cats. This sets him apart from the rest.

    • Yes, he is a very plain and dependable cat. How interesting that Molly also cringed! I’ve never had a cat do this before, and it’s quite mystifying. We thought he’d grow out of it but nope.

  3. Oh I love Panda and all the reasons why he is boring and uninteresting. I love his name and striking looks and he doesn’t seem that unapproachable if he sleeps in the crook of your husband’s arm!

  4. Panda is a gorgeous cat, and for this kitty it seems being peaceful has a cathartic effect on the other cats. Also, Panda looks a lot like my cat Hero. I really like the six things format. I might need to steal this because I have not yet written posts for two of my critters, and this format works well for pets.

    • It really is quite a good format for writing about pets. In a house with so many cats and the chaos of one who doesn’t really like other cats all that much, it’s actually quite helpful to have a cat like Panda who can get along with everyone and bring peace wherever he goes! He does look like Hero!

  5. For a cat you say doesn’t have much personality, you do an excellent job describing him. I kind of feel like I know him. He’s that kid in my class who I know almost nothing about but who seems to somehow, oddly, be the glue that keeps the class together. When that kid is absent, everything is a little off-kilter in ways I can’t quite explain. Years later, I look back & I can kind of remember that kid – maybe a glimmer of a name, or the colour of their hair – but then again, I can’t quite place them.

    Also, you have a LOT of black or black and white cats. From the pictures, Panda & Zorro look almost like mirror images of each other.

    • YES! That is EXACTLY what Panda is like. What a great metaphor for him. Yes, of the 6 cats, 5 are black or black and white. I was a bit disappointed when I first saw the feral kitten family–aside from Panda, they were homely kittens and so many cats the same color seemed boring to me. But I have grown to enjoy my big piles of black and white cats and, especially, to appreciate the great beauty of black cats.

  6. As I have said before, I don’t even like cats that much, and every time I read one of your posts, I fall in love with them, and think I need to run right out and bring one home. The details you chose are so, so, perfect ans so telling. I love Panda!

    • It’s a great time to foster! We’re all stuck at home anyway. I have been trying to keep myself from checking our local shelter’s web page because I just know if they put a call out for fosters, I’m going to be calling to find out how I can help.

  7. Oh my gosh! My older cat suddenly started doing the “carry a stuffed toy around in her mouth and yowling around it” thing about three months ago. She never had been that interested in the stuffed toys except for the catnip logs, and all of a sudden she started carrying around a big stuffed mouse and a string of three fuzzy balls with little shaker things inside of them. She brings them to the hallway outside the bedrooms at about 10:15 every night and meows up a storm. The first couple of nights we thought she was dying, because if she sees you coming, she drops her toy and sits on it so you won’t know that she is playing!

      • She is elderly and has a thyroid condition as well as kidney problems, and a few months ago her thyroid kicked in more strongly than her medicine and she was very hungry, and very, very active and playful and she started playing all kinds of new games. We’ve gotten her medication adjusted, but she still likes to play, as long as no one is looking! I think it helps that our other cat is so young and playful.

      • The young cat likes to chase little craft pompoms and she will carry them off and put them in the bathtub, where she can chase them and meow at them. Our house gets pretty noisy at night sometimes.

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