Saturday, January 10, 2015

Of Big Cats and Bright Futures

So the room has been a bit cold and lonely since Al left.  Every so often, I still roll over and catch myself half asleep stopping my leg from going too far so I don't accidentally smash my knee into a cat who is no longer there.  But I can still feel him, you know?  It's weird to say it.  In the (increasingly fewer) times when I feel down, I can feel his paw scraping against my arm, or a phantom headbutt saying "Its all gonna be alright, buddy."

So I've been thinking on and off about getting a new cat.  His or her name will be Kaizhu... and yes, there's a whole story about that too.  The doctor at the vet offered to give me one of their well cared for vet clinic cats named Tigger... and he's a great cat and all, big and fluffy and catlike in all the right ways, but he just didn't seem too bright.  And after Aleister, I can't have a dumb cat.  Can't and won't happen.  I need a cat who not only plays, but who decides to play games with people.  It's a requirement.  I need something that I can teach, and raise, and know that it is constantly thinking of ways to not only be a cat but to help me be a better human.

Babe Ruth plays baseball.
Nick Nailor sells cigarettes.
Ashe trains Pokemon.
I teach cats.

Okay, so that's maybe melodramatic, but I'm good at it.

So it started with me haunting craigslist.  Free kittens, blah blah.  Most of them had these massive rehoming fees.  I was like whatever.  Then I found a batch of black and siamese kittens... buuuut I was just about to go on vacation, and wasn't about to get a kitten and then leave it alone for like a week.  So I texted the owners and I asked if I could get one after the New Year.  And they were like "yeah, super, no sweat brah." (citation needed)

So then I get back.  The following day I text them.  I want my cat, bitches.  Well, no, sorry, we're all out of cats.  Go score somewhere else, kitten huffer.

Soooooo I'm back at craigslist.  Day one... nothing... Day two... ehhhhhh pretty cool entry for a black longhair reaching out to his new jailers using the monicker Ninja Lord (but his current jailers call him Kit Kat.)  Cool entry, cool owners, kiiiinda thinkin about it, but then about eight hours later they take the post down.  Eh, shit.  Then I find this ad without pictures for a halfbreed bengal.  Says he's six months old and *massive* but they don't have pics and they don't want 90 bucks.  Not free, but for a good cat?  Yeah, worth it.  And that sounds cool, bengals are smart, so I email them.

And nothing.  So next day, Day 3... I check.  Boom, there's some pics!  Hey awesome!  He looks cool, and he is laying on a desktop computer that is laying down sideways on the ground... and taking up almost the entire side panel.  Woah, yeah, that's a big cat.  Sweet.  Oh... wait, what's this?  Now they want 250.  Damnit.  So I start to do mental math.

250... vetted, wormed, blah... but has his nuts.  Alright.  Hmm... gonna end up a lot more expensive.  But just to check in on things, I start doing research on bengals.

And let me tell ya, man, bengals?  They're the shit.  Big, willful, intelligent, compassionate but still jerks, not lap cats... but cats.  So I start poking around more and more, learning about lineage, breed types, average lifespans, weights, stuff like that.  Really cool shit.

Hello, my name is Captain Awesome.  You hid my tuna.
Prepare to die.
So bengals are a hybrid that come from Asian Leopard cats... which are, well, exactly what they sound like.   At 16 pounds, they look completely awesome and baller.  So I kept reading, and soaking up the information, because hey, brain food.

And then, just to see, y'know, because that's what you do, I looked up bengal kittens in the area.  There are a few breeders, but there weren't any kittens... but man were the pictures I found just made of distilled and triple refined cuteness.  So meeting a bengal was kind of out.  So I started to research some other breeds.  Because I was kind of on this kick, see.

So then I rediscover Savannah Cats... which I'd previously discovered like a few years ago, and been totally amazed by.  And I start rereading them, and I'm re-totally amazed by them.  Because they're kind of the shit.  So I started to hunt through Savannah Cat breeders.  And I found one with a wee little picture of a single kitten they still had.  And I reached out.

This dude is totally cool.  He's been breeding for a while, and he's very concerned with the families he places kittens to.  We talked a bit over the phone, and he invited me over to meet the kitten who is now Kaizhu Rantarri.  I didn't really know what to expect.

So I tool on over to the place, and head on up to the front door.  It's one of those big glass panel front door things that rich dudes have, and I knock.  Immediately, two gatos in leopard print coats come sprinting up to the door.  One of them sits there and eyes me for a while, and the other comes directly up to the door.  Erik (the guy's name, not one of the cats) comes up and invites me in, and these two cats immediately come over and start checking me out.  "Sup, you a cat person, bro?  We cool?"  And, naturally, we're cool.  They're rubbin up against me, hanging out, being awesome, and this dude and I are talking.  And these cats just wouldn't stop rubbing up against me, I have -never- met a cat as affection as these two were.  Talk about Lords of Awesome.  So Erik the Not-Cat invites me deeper into his domain, and I'm like "Lets do this."

So we walk into his living room like bosses, and I bust a right, and I stop.  Because death is staring me in the face.

Now, let me stop for a moment.  Let me explain something.  Because this is kind of key.

If I say "I have a sixty pound dog," what do you think?  Like a German Shepard, or a pitbull, or something like that.  Maybe a chow.  Do you think death?  I don't think death.  I think big puppy.  I think lots of slobber, and occasional growls towards people or beings the puppy doesn't like, and I think of picking up big turds during walks.  I don't think death.

But you come around the corner, and there's this big normal every day living room, with this big normal everyday fireplace, and this big normal every day easy chair, and this big normal everyday couch, and this big normal everday African Serval, and something in the back of your mind just CLICKS and screams "OH MY GOD RUN YOU ARE GOING TO DIE."

And you'll be like "Oh whatever, Blaze."  But this happens.  It's this primal thing.  On the big normal everyday couch is a 35 pound cat.  A 35 pound mini-cheetah.  And it is looking at me.  It's not looking at me mean, it's not grimacing, it doesn't have its ears back... it's just looking at me.  But something in my brain is squirting adrenaline all over the place.  I think I let out a very eloquent, Malcolm Reynolds style "Huh."

And this cat unwinds itself from where it sits, and it prowls over towards me.  Why does it prowl?  It's not hunting.  But that's just how cats move.  If it was darker, it would have lurked, but it was a well lit room, so it prowled.  And it starts checking me out.  Snuff snuff snuff... huff... snuff snuff.

I can easily understand where people will knee-jerk reaction against these cats.  But it's a completely unfair position... because African Servals have been domesticated for years and years in (spoiler alert) Africa.  They are very curious, very affectionate when bonded, and utterly awesome felines.

So back to the story, Mr. Mancat continues to check me out for a while, and then all of a sudden stands up and... are you ready for this, are you sitting down?  All of a sudden he stands up, and puts his paws ON MY CHEST.  Think about that.  Think about a cat big enough to put its front paws on your upper torso.  He starts to sniff around my belly and look up into my eyes.

And I kinda, y'know, freeze.  I'm staring at this cat, and it's staring at me, and then it opens up this tooth mouth and it hisses at me.  You know those moments when your insides tighten from fear?  Well I'm pretty sure the guys at CERN have an easier time finding Higgs-Boson particles than they would have had finding my testicles at that moment.  And Erik's all casual about it, he looks at me and he's like "That's how they communicate.  That's like a meow.  They communicate with hisses and these bird like chirps."  By the way, here's a picture of him kind of standing up, not even at full extension.

Doesn't look that big, right?  Just like kind of a slightly increased cat.
Like 1.5 times normal cat.
Yeah, how about now, homeboy?  Is that a lot of cat or what?
So I calm down, and eye the cat... and its ears are front facing, curious, eyes aren't narrowed, tail is mildly swishing.  So I reach out to pet it, and that's when this big mini-cheetah just Nopes the fuck out and heads over to Erik.  That was too much for it... which, y'know, I understand.  I wasn't His Person, so I hadn't earned that right.

After hanging out with the big cat for a while, we head upstairs to see the kittens.  And man, okay, like those of you that know me know I'm a cat guy.  Was raised by cats, had cats all my life, I'm a cat guy.  Seen a whole lot of kittens.  And sure, kittens are cute, that's what they do, but these kittens?  Man... like it's a whole other league of cute.  At just over a pound, these things are some of the fastest things I have ever seen on four legs.  Just rapidity filled little mammals.  Zoom.  Zoom.  And they're playing, and laughing, and Erik and I are talking about 40k because he's like this rad dude.

And all of a sudden Kaizhu leaps up and burrows into my Canada hoodie.  And I'm like just... Yep.  This is the dude.  This is my cat.

So we hang out with the kittens a little while longer, head downstairs talking numbers and care and stuff like that.  He starts playing with the big cat with this fishing pole style toy, and the big cat is like working together with the little cats, using these pack tactics and trying to get the toy... you know, like dogs do?  Yeah, except cats.

As you might be able to tell, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of getting my new gato.  After Aleister sailed to distant shores, I've been thinking a lot about them.  I do believe I have found my breed.  He can't come home with me until late February, but when he's ready to depart, I'm going to love on this cat so hard.

I can't wait to introduce you all to Kaizhu Rantarri... who I am sure is going to earn a great many titles due to his immense brilliance.

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