I have a cat that’s an odd duck.
He’s a rescue that I adopted from my vet. One day, I decided that my other rescue, a young, sleek, all-black junior kitty named Jack, needed a buddy. I learned that Jack and the odd duck had been in neighboring cages and used to bat paws at one another, so Jack and Tucker, as I named the funny little guy, ending up being reunited.
He’s nothing like Jack. He’s not social, isn’t very affectionate, doesn’t meow a whole lot, and — while he uses his litter box — is easily confused in it. He’ll dig in one area, do his business in an entirely different area, then cover up a third area which neither was dug in nor “used.”
He’s not especially coordinated and doesn’t seem to have much interest in playing. In fact, he seems to get more enjoyment out of watching Jack tear things up, so sitting quietly at a distance is clearly more his speed.
Where Jack is long, lean and elegant, Tucker is stubby, stocky and compact. He’s the cat version of Danny DeVito.
Jack will play with a jingle-ball for hours on end, whacking it around the room and sprinting after it, tail high in the air. Tucker will simply walk around the house with it in his mouth, growling and making prehistoric noises which inspire Jack to keep a safe distance.
Tucker does lean into his feline-ness and enjoy a few of the obvious things: vacant boxes and cramming himself into a small, empty bag for a good snooze are two of his favorites.
Two of his front teeth are a little too large for his mouth, and they hang down like kitty fangs. His coloring makes him look like a miniature version of a Bengal tiger, though, so they sort of fit (without actually fitting).
Tonight, I freshened their litter boxes and sprawled out across the bed in my guest room. I was watching Tucker sniff around a bit and found myself wondering what kind of life he had in his younger years. He’s not old, but he’s definitely older than Jack. The vet thinks he might be anywhere from two to four years of age, but it’s really hard to tell — his build throws me off. My eyelids started to feel heavy, and before I realized it, Tucker had jumped up next to me and was laying with his body against mine. He wasn’t up for any head pets or behind-the-ear scratching (no surprise there), he just wanted to lay down, and he was leaning into me.
He’s a bit of a loner, doesn’t say much, isn’t really one to seek me out, but tonight he did what he does best: he simply let himself be. And I allowed him to be as such. No toys, no friendly touch, just resting together.
We dozed off and on for about an hour, and when I got up, Tucker didn’t feel like laying there anymore, either. He found a cozy place in the corner of the room, curled up and went back to observing and being — on his own. It’s what he does best, after all.
It’s easy to want someone to conform to our expectations of what they should be, how they should act and what we’d like them to say. Unfortunately, expectations can muddy the waters and often lead to disappointment. There’s no good solution unless “live and let live” is something that either party might warm up to. Sometimes people will meet us in the middle, other times their mannerisms, tendencies and habits may be so set that all we can do is either walk away or accept. If acceptance is possible, then the hard part is done. If changing them to fit your mold is ideal, prepare for an uphill battle.
Regardless of which end you’re on, there’s only one sure way to be seen for the person you are, and it’s to be who you are — fully, visibly, every day. In time, that person who is meant to be the lid to your teapot will become known. For Tucker reminding me of this tonight, I am thankful.