Bless Us, Every One

I got my favorite Christmas present early this morning. Despite the fact that I'm off work for the holiday, RJ still has an imperfect grasp of scheduling, so I expected him to wake me up at my usual time for breakfast. He did his Richochet Rabbit impersonation; leaping onto the bed and springing off as though shot from a cannon.

RJ, Christmas Eve morningSo when I peeked over the covers, he came bouncing over to my face. But this time he didn't have his serious little expression; this time he was trying to pull something. What his face conveyed was false surprise, Oh, you're up! As though he had nothing to do with it.

RJ has shown glimpses of trainability before, as when he asked to eat in the kitchen, and showed he knew what it meant when he moderated his formerly voracious behavior to be a Big Boy and leave other cats' dishes alone. But it's always been difficult to read his face. When he's happy, he's relaxed; we can get his attention fairly easily at such times. But at all other times his face has tended to have only one expression; that serious, intent look that seemed to be all that was left when we managed to wipe the desperation off of it.

This morning he not only showed himself capable of deviousness; his face was able to convey that knowledge. He's starting to lose his poker face. I'm thrilled. He's feeling more secure, he's reaching out to interact with us, and he's getting more open with his emotions.

In a way, every new cat is a wrapped gift. How will they fit in? How affectionate can they become? What surprises do they have in store? But when a cat comes in with known difficulties, there's even more categories of suspense. Are they capable of socialization? Will they lose that chip on their shoulder? Can they overcome the difficulties they faced before they got this home?

This couldn't help but be on my mind, since Mr. Bond and Puffy are also Cats with Problems. When I had to shut down my cat civilization and find most of them new homes, I wound up with Mr. Bond and Puffy mostly because they would have the greatest difficulties finding new ones. I loved them all; but I had to let the easy ones go first.

When I went looking for a new kitten, I was looking for someone easy. Except... there was RJ, needing special understanding. I must have been sent to rescue this little guy.

Because it's not just Dear Husband and I who enjoy RJ. Mr. Bond thinks it's great having a sidekick. This morning, he went trotting into the kitchen for breakfast, too. He had nothing to do with this. We can't prove a thing.

I can see the discussions between him and RJ: With my brains and your cuteness, we can really go places, kid!

From all of us, to all of you, a wonderful holiday. And the hope that there are plenty of the kinds of gifts who keep on giving.

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