In 2005, my husband and I decided our cat Sid needed a friend. This was one of many incidents over years of pet ownership when human-to-pet communication would have been helpful, because if we’d asked, Sid would’ve let us know that the last thing in the world he wanted was a feline friend. Oh, well. We adopted Shmee, and Sid hated her immediately. For the first few days after she came home, he perched on top of the kitchen cabinets, growling at all of us. When he finally deigned to come down, he hissed at her, smacked her in the face, and chased her under a bed.
From that moment until Sid died ten years later, Shmee mostly lived under our furniture. Since she preferred the guest room bed for that purpose, we had to warn folks staying overnight that they might be awakened in the middle of the night by a sweet, fluffy kitty snuggling, head-butting, and licking them. Shmee always loved love; she was just too scared to come out and get it. It wasn’t just Sid who scared her, either. Any new sound or activity sent her running for a dark and quiet spot, and once she found one, she’d stay there for days. She was the quintessential “scaredy cat,” and therefore, we hardly ever saw her. Many of our friends didn’t know she existed, and even our other pets seemed alarmed whenever she made one of her rare appearances.
Despite her obvious preference for staying inside under furniture, each spring, we’d pull Shmee out from under the bed for a field trip to the groomer so she could have her thick coat removed. This continues to be an annual event that is absolutely hilarious for everyone except Shmee.
All groomers over the past 15 years have shared the same report: Shmee is the best cat ever. She loves to be touched, so grooming is like a deep tissue massage as far as she’s concerned. She just lies there, limp and purring. If we’d ever tried to get Sid groomed, he would’ve killed someone.
When Sid passed away in January of 2016, Shmee moved out from under the furniture and onto my lap.
Every time I sit down, she’s on my lap within seconds. Sometimes I don’t even notice she’s there until I try to get up. (And yes, she’s on my lap right now. It makes typing difficult.) On occasion, she has to share some lap real estate with Jasper, or at least Jasper’s ear.
This is how Shmee and Jasper spend about 90% of their time:
For the brief duration of their waking hours, they mostly attempt mind control, willing me to put food in their bowls.
Shmee is now at least 16, and her Golden Years are a mixed bag. Her back end has a hard time keeping up with the front, which makes for some wobbly walking. She rarely cleans herself anymore. Sometimes I’ll find her alone in a room, meowing at the wall. On the flip side, not only has she fully integrated herself into a regular on-not-under-furniture life, but she also recently decided that she likes to go outside.
Shmee never even came close to stepping outside until about six months ago when I opened the back door and she just strolled on out. Now she explores the backyard daily and waits patiently at the dog door when she’s ready to come back in. The funniest part is how ballistic the birds go whenever she’s in the yard, obviously screeching out the warning: “CAT! CAT! CAT!” while she looks at them with clear annoyance like, “Could you please pipe down, whatever you are? I’m trying to sniff this plant.”
Shmee reminds me of a lifelong recluse who decided at age 80 to hike the Appalachian Trail and play competitive tennis. She is a completely different creature than she used to be. And while I loved Sid, despite his violent tendencies, I am so thankful that Shmee has had the last four years to move out from under the furniture and into our lives.