When we first brought Duchess home, she was a jumpy, timid creature. Naturally any cat is going to be nervous in a new environment, but I’d never known one who was so alarmed by everything. If someone stood up too fast, she would bolt into the basement. If Alpha Geek or the Artist stood up at all, she would bolt for the basement—she was fine as long as they were sitting, but when they stood up they were just so appallingly tall it freaked her out. If we moved too fast, or made a loud noise, she would bolt for the basement.
Often Alpha Geek cannot resist pushing someone’s buttons, including hers. When he took off his shoes, he would take a sock and lob it gently in her direction. She would bolt for the basement.
My younger son, the Director, is energetic (to say the least). These days it’s fashionable to say that such a person has ADHD, but the Director really does; he’s been diagnosed and we’ve done a lot of work with schools and shrinks to help him learn to control his impulsive behavior. (Turns out ADHD, like Asperger’s Syndrome, is a form of high-functioning autism. This is what happens when geeks breed.)
The Director is rarely still. He usually runs everywhere. He’s prone to abrupt, unpredictable bursts of motion and noise.
Nonetheless, he is the one that our nervous, jumpy cat chose to be Her Person.
If anyone else ran towards her, she would—you guessed it—bolt for the basement. If the Director ran towards her, she would get up to meet him. If anyone else picks her up, she struggles mightily; she hates to be picked up. If the Director picks her up, she will complain but won’t struggle. When the kid is in school, she looks for him when it’s time for him to get home.
Alpha Geek has trouble fathoming this attachment. The kid will sit on the floor and pester the cat. He’ll roll her over from one side to the other. He’ll pick her up and put her on his lap, and when she climbs off he’ll pick her up again. Finally Alpha Geek will say, “Leave the cat alone.”
So the Director will get up and leave. And Duchess will get up and follow.
Because ultimately the reason they have such a close bond is that they understand each other. They’re both complete and utter attention whores.
Nowadays she’s not nearly so nervous, either. She comes to greet us when we get home, and will also come check out strangers (as long as they don’t come in the front door). She’s no longer alarmed by the two tall men walking past. If Alpha Geek lobs a sock at her, she will step to the side just far enough to avoid it, then give him an “Oh, please” look worthy of any teenager.
Not only has she settled in, she has become queen of the house. Just as I predicted.