Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feline Tails: Yang the Imperial

Have you ever seen the excellent Bertolucci film The Last Emperor? It makes clear how anyone destined for an imperial role, even a small child (I would add, even a cat), has a specialized childhood in which one is often not trained very well to live in the real world. I suspect that this was indeed the case with our much beloved Balinese Siamese boy, Yang. He and his sister were offered through a rescue organization when their humans decided to move to NY city to an apartment where cats were not allowed. Unfortunately, they were farmed out separately (I would have loved to keep them together, and I think he missed her a lot in the beginning.) I have the idea that he was treated mainly as an "art object," living in the house but mainly ignored as a true cat. I came to this conclusion because when we first welcomed him into our cat family, he was totally clueless about how to play with people or other cats. He would watch a string toy for so long before daring to pounce that one of the five others always got there first. His first time out on the wire-enclosed "cat patio" (which my husband built for the sake of safety, fresh air, and exercise for our prior generation of felines) was a huge surprise to him, but one that he continues to enjoy. His imperial demeanor has also caused him to eat with a polite slowness. He exhibits table manners that I, as his human mom, appreciate -- eating slowly, stopping to clean his mouth periodically, etc. But all these niceties mean that we have to protect his dish from being stolen by his quick and voracious cat buddies.  Yang and Angel (who will soon be featured in these pages as well) have a love and hate relationship. She screams at the sight of him. He obsessively tries to come close to her and then sometimes attacks out of resentment at rejection. However, he gets along well with the others, especially his best friend the Maine Coon, Sylvan (more about him later, too). The two of them like to share a cat bed, a chair, or a place on our bed and just cuddle up and maybe do some mutual grooming.

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