Growing up with a dog named Columbus, I've always thought of myself as a "dog person" and not a "cat person." Years ago, I had a boyfriend (now ex, of course) who had a cat who hated me. She would sit on my boyfriend's head, looking menacingly at me. She even bit me intentionally. The (now ex-) boyfriend would try to get the two of us to become friends by giving me meat to feed her. The cat was pretty terrifying though, and I was always afraid I would lose a finger in the effort. And she seemed to be biding her time with the knowledge that she would come out on top. She was right. So that cat pretty much sealed the deal in my opinions of cats, and I hadn't met any cats that convinced me otherwise.
Until meeting S, and then S's cat, BooBoo. At first I was a little worried about the fact that S had a cat (ie. a cat was a red flag for me due to the aforementioned experience), but BooBoo seemed pretty nice, didn't seem to cause any allergies, didn't glare at me, try to bite me, or attack me, and so we got along okay. And as I dated S longer and time passed, I liked BooBoo more and more. And BooBoo warmed up to me too.
In January, BooBoo had his first visit to our Montréal apartment when S surprised me by bringing him one weekend. BooBoo normally lives in the Québec apartment with Suki, another cat we have been caring for, who seemed to adopt me as "hers." (Suki really likes my hair, I think because I remind her of her owner.*) In previous talks with S about moving Booboo to Montréal, I had worried how BooBoo would react being away from Suki for the first time in two years. I worried he might be lonely without her.
After arriving, BooBoo took a couple of minutes to walk in each room of the apartment, then relaxed quickly and seemed to enjoy himself. As in REALLY enjoy himself. As in he suddenly became a dramatically more social cat, who "talks" and meows more frequently than before, and he lays around us on his back. He even prances down the hall with a completely unfamiliar, new bounce in his step. In Montréal, BooBoo actually seems considerably happier and much more affectionate with us.
So, we wondered if it was simply the change of pace or being away from Suki, and we wondered what would happen after the weekend when S took BooBoo back to the Québec apartment with Suki. The result? It was as if the Montréal weekend had never happened. BooBoo went back to his normal Québec self (less affectionate and more independent), and to the normal relationship with Suki: getting along okay mostly, with Suki sometimes attacking BooBoo for weird reasons (the expresso milk frother noise, when we played a CD with bird noises of Tenerife, and random other times.)
So we recently moved BooBoo to Montréal, to try it out. BooBoo made himself at home again immediately and became more affectionate. That is how it is been for the weeks since BooBoo moved here. It seems BooBoo is just more relaxed away from Suki. He lets himself be vulnerable, and sometimes even leaps around the apartment in moments of what seems to be joy? Of course, it is hard to know what a cat is thinking, but he sure does seem exceptionally happy to us. A few weeks ago, he discovered a new rug in the hall and now he regularly amuses himself by running down the hall and sliding on it. And he is all the time coming up to me to sit with me and lay beside me and sleep, which he never did in Québec.
Anyhow, since having BooBoo with us in Montréal, I have found myself raving about how great a cat BooBoo is. Admittedly, he is the most dog-like cat I have ever seen. He even comes when you call him. I could go on about how much I get a kick out of him, but I will try to refrain. But what has been stunning for both S and me is to see the dramatic personality difference in BooBoo when he is away from Suki. I can't get over how sweet, funny, and social he has been since the move. And it makes us sad that he must have spent the last two years constantly on guard and stressed by Suki.** We thought he was the best cat before, but yeah, I guess you can say we are just proud cat parents! It seems BooBoo has converted me to a cat person.
*Suki liked to knead my head while I was trying to sleep. I found this behavior a little disturbing, so I trained her to stay below my shoulders and not touch my head, so now she will sometimes just stare at my head while moving her paws in a kneading motion.
**I still like Suki, of course, but think BooBoo is much happier on his own. And I think Suki is happier with BooBoo. Bless her heart...