The Immortal Harvey (d.o.b. June 18, 2019)

I share my home with four gentle and obedient cats who adorn my life like precious jewels, and a fifth, Harvey, who is cocky and impudent. Only he fights over food; only he brazenly ignores my wishes; and only he makes me run from one end of the house to the other to see what he’s up to when it sounds like he’s rearranging the furniture. He stares into my eyes with the cunning of a cartoon fox, and he disobeys me even while I’m scolding him for disobedience. I chase him around the house yelling, waving my arms, and, sometimes, slapping the upholstery with a yardstick, but after a few circuits, he rolls onto his back—like ten-year-old Brewsky did when he was a kitten—and invites me to rub his belly.

Harvey is my only cat who, when we’re cuddled-up in bed at night and I’m rubbing his belly with one hand, pins my other with his claws and squeezes a finger between his teeth as he dozes off. Peggy insists that I not let him bite me, but I only follow her advice on the rare occasions when he causes me pain.

But why does Harvey pin me with teeth and claws? A cat’s unprotected abdomen is so vulnerable to evisceration—by another cat’s hind claws—that many cats will bite anyone who touches that area. Then there are cats like Brewsky who will allow humans to do pretty much anything to them (I sometimes answer the door with Brewsky hanging upside down from under a forearm). Harvey resorts to the middle ground of allowing access to his abdomen while keeping his teeth and claws engaged. 

For much of my life, I found it intimidating to sit or lie while other males were standing, so when I did, I would keep an eye on them, although I knew that it offered little protection. When I observe Harvey’s protective measures, I see myself. Although Brewsky always gave me complete access to his body, I appreciate Harvey’s gift even more because his desire to surrender goes against his need for safety.

As I stroke him, I lose myself in adoration of his foxy face and long fur—I prefer longhaired cats, and he’s my only longhair. Although Peggy laughed when I called my little ten pound bundle of cuteness a man’s cat, Harvey truly is a badass who goes for broke while roughhousing with fifteen-pound Brewsky. Yet, I know that Brewsky would never really harm him, and I also know that Harvey’s exaggerated self-confidence is the result of human protectiveness. May Peggy and I never find ourselves unable to maintain the illusion, and may he never discover how nearly powerless his human parents really are. Perhaps, it would be possible for me to love him more, although my heart would burst if I tried.


Emma Springfield said...

He is a beautiful cat.

Elephant's Child said...

Jazz does bite. And scratch. Which I think relates to his time on the streets before he came to live with us.
He bites me so often that I have developed 'Jazz antibodies' and no longer ever get infected from the wounds.
He is also an affectionate cat and much loved.
Just as Harvey is.

PhilipH said...

Your descriptive and touching post is almost a poem of love and deep affection for your feline family. You're akin to T.S. Eliot and similarly talented in showing the reader your devotion to these gorgeous and athletic creatures.

The photo of Harvey is amazingly attractive. Wonderful colour and eyes to stun one - great in every way.

Tom said...

I'm more of a dog person, myself, but it's great to have a soulmate, isn't it?!?

rhymeswithplague said...

What a lovely post. So much more pleasant than the last one.

Snowbrush said...

"He is a beautiful cat."

Thank you. You might recall that he was one of three rescue kittens that we took in WITH NO INTENTION OF KEEPING ANY OF THEM. Then when we fell so in love with Harvey that we applied to adopt him, the agency darn near turned us down due to our age. It was a concern that we shared, yet we find it hard to foresee a situation short of death in which we would surrender our cats because without pets, what good is life?

"Jazz does bite. And scratch."

Not having had such a cat, I don't know how I would react. In reading about such situations, I found one author who wrote that, there being so many animals that face death if not adopted, why keep one that behaves in such a way. Possibly because I haven't had a cat like Jazz, I would concur with that advice. I did have a blue heeler who would snap at Peggy and me, and, of course, the jaw strength of a heeler is enormous. The only good thing I could say about her attacks was that she would snap once, and that was it, and that she never did actually engage, suggesting that she never intended to engage. She was also one of the most loving and most sensitive dogs, I've ever had, so while I had always told myself that I wouldn't keep a dog that would bite me, I did.

"Your descriptive and touching post is almost a poem of love and deep affection for your feline family."

Thank you, but I'm embarrassed to admit that, although I put many hours into it, I got up this morning and revised it considerably. I really worry that I'm losing my ability to write well. By the way, your "test" comment came through, but I didn't allow it because I didn't think you would want me too. After not requiring that comments be approved, I went back to doing so recently after getting spammed. Once those guys hit, they sometimes start hitting a lot, and I'm not going to put up with it.

Snowbrush said...

"The photo of Harvey is amazingly attractive."

Thank you.

"I'm more of a dog person, myself, but it's great to have a soulmate, isn't it?!?"

I've had far more dogs than cats. Indeed, cats only entered my life in any significant way when we got Brewsky in 2010. For me, which makes the better pet is situational. When we had dogs, we spent three days out of every fourteen camping, so cats wouldn't have worked, whereas dogs love camping, and their presence made us feel safer, although there were three occasions when predators might have killed our schnauzer had we not been there to protect him. I say "might" because while the owl and the hawk were clearly considering it--him being too heavy for them to carry off--I'm quite sure that the bobcat would have got him if I hadn't looked out of the van and realized what was about to happen.

"What a lovely post. So much more pleasant than the last one."

I write about Trump because I care deeply about what I have to say about him and those who support him, and because I hope that saying it will make me feel better. I don't know if the latter is true since I don't know how I would feel if I didn't write, and because there has been no parallel in my life to the hatred that I feel for Trump and the contempt that I feel for those who support Trump. I've seen a lot of presidents come and go by now (I was born under Truman--you were born under Roosevelt, course), and I've sometimes voted Republican or Green, but, thanks to Trump, the cowardice of Republican lawmakers, and the hypocrisy of his largely Christian supporters, I don't foresee ever again voting anything but Democratic because the possibility of fascists ruling America is too untenable to risk.

As for pleasant posts, I don't know that you've ever written an unpleasant one, and I've often wondered how you refrain when, in my view, someone or some situation so screams to be addressed that to not address him, her, or it is unthinkable. I will therefore ask whether you see yourself as more adverse than most people when it comes to courting controversy? In my case, although I do it, I very much hate making people angry, and I've had more than a few readers stop reading my blog because I angered them. I suffer when this happens. It surely isn't something that has happened to you. That said, I've known some innocuous bloggers who came to be hated and hounded simply because the wrong nut-job came along and became fixated on them, whereas, despite my inflammatory posts, I've yet to have any real trouble. I never lose sight of the possibility of it happening, but when it comes to doing my best to avoid it, I only went out of my way once, and that was when Peggy asked that I not publish a post that made my contempt for Islam explicit following the Charlie Hebdo murders.

rhymeswithplague said...

I believe you mean averse and not adverse. “Averse to courting controversy” is an unusual way to put it, but yes, that describes me rather well, I think. Why would anyone court controversy when there is a strong possibility that the opposing person could lose control at any moment and rise up and smack you, I mean me, in the face? Most unpleasant prospect? As a child I just sat there hoping the tirade would be over soon, fighting to hold back tears, sometimes unsuccessfully, and getting smacked anyway. I’m referring to the Navy guy who married my mother and who in many respects otherwise was a good man. I think today that he might have had PTSD from his experiences in World War II. Court controversy? No way, Jose. I hope I am a peacemaker, for they, according to you know very well who, shall be called the children of God.

It was going so well until the end there, at which time I lost my head and May very well have wound up courting controversy, which was not my intention.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

My cat likes to do the bite thing too but one day while attempting to give her her medication she broke the skin and punctured my finger. That resulted in my having to go to the ER on the Vet’s advice as cats have nasty bacteria in their mouth.
We do not allow cats in our beds up by our face. They are allowed at bottom by the bed though.

Snowbrush said...

"Court controversy? No way, Jose."

Could it be that it's your own anger from a lifetime of pent-up rage that you're the most afraid of? Unlike your stepfather, my father never struck me, yet I lived in constant terror that he would because when he was angry he acted as though he might go completely and violently insane. So, like you, I have enormous trouble in speaking out, but, in my case, it's only doing it in person that I fear because it is only then that I tremble, shout, and curse--which is exactly what my father did--and I can't bear putting myself at risk of acting in such a humiliating manner. When writing, I can control myself, and so I write. In any event, I had thought that there was a deliberateness behind you NEVER speaking out when a situation is so outrageous as the ones that are associated almost daily with Trump. He is clearly (would you not agree?) a dictator wannabe, and so he puts me in mind of the millions of Germans who kept silent as Hitler gained power. Am I, then, to be like them, especially when the risk is so slight that the only really likely consequence is that a few people will call me names? Two quotations that you surely know, but that some might not:

(1) “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”― (2) "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Snowbrush said...

"That resulted in my having to go to the ER on the Vet’s advice as cats have nasty bacteria in their mouth."
What could the ER do aside from updating your tetanus shot? As for cats having particularly nasty mouths, I question this, even if a vet did say it. Humans do have particularly nasty mouths--though not so bad as the Komodo Dragon, the prey of which invariably dies from infection--and little kids are certainly infamous biters, although I'm unaware that much comes of it in most cases. People who work in animal rescue are often bitten by one animal or another, and I can assure you that they don't go to a doctor everytime it happens. I was bitten by a squirrel last summer, and it being my first squirrel bite, I did go to a doctor due to my fear of infection going to my two artificial joints, but all he cared about was whether my tetanus was current.

"We do not allow cats in our beds up by our face. They are allowed at bottom by the bed though."

I wonder if your concern goes back to the old belief that cats suck the breath out of sleeping humans, a belief that originated because when a person died in his sleep of unknown causes, and a cat was found in the bed, the assumption was that the cat had caused the death--not necessarily on purpose, but caused it nonetheless. It was also believed that cats shouldn't sleep with infants lest the cat go to sleep on the infant's face and suffocate the infant that way. Old legends aside, Peggy doesn't allow a cat near her face, but that is because she is mildly allergic and so if a cat touches her face, her face breaks out. Fortunately, this doesn't happen when cats touch her in other places (Peggy sleeps nude, so if a cat crawls under the cover, he or she might touch her most anyplace).

Strayer said...

I agree your post is poetic, a love story. I love my cats so much I cannot imagine life without them, would be so loveless and humorless and empty. I'm sure my neighbors think I"m nuts but i just don't care.

Snowbrush said...

"I love my cats so much I cannot imagine life without them."
Same here. Our lives with them are such that we can't conveniently leave home for even one night because one of them, Ollie, throws up everything he eats if anything in his environment changes, and if we don't feed him small amounts of $10 a pound food throughout the day instead of in the three meals that the others get. But would I prefer that he had gone to another home? If he would be less troubled there, yes, but my fear is that he would be dead if he didn't have us to center our lives around his needs. Cats also serve as a bond between you and me because I revere you as one of the people who keep the goodness in the world afloat, and, as you well know, I "get" cats and therefore share your love for them. When we got our third cat, and you wrote that I was now a "cat-man," I felt as though I had been formally accepted into a select fraternity. Peggy also visits your blog from time to time--she's obviously not one to comment--and thinks of you as I do. In case there was the possibility of a misunderstanding, I should say that the small amount that we give to your charity comes from both of us.

The Blog Fodder said...

You have wonderful cats. They have each their own personality (like all animals, I guess, once you get to know them). Tanya and I are cat and dog people. Three cats which will be 8 years old this coming March. And two outdoor dogs. A fox terrier which will be 13 in January and a German Shepherd which is about 15 months old. I say about as he showed up on our doorstep in mid-October almost dead from starvation and with very weak back legs. We had no choice but to keep him. Over winter he eventually got well and is now almost too powerful for me to handle on our walks. I have been walking 5 days a week, from March to September 5 km per day and from September on 4 km per day. They are very slow walks as they are for the benefit of the dogs - they get to sniff and mark for over an hour and a half.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I read recently that adult cats only meow for humans. In the wild meowing isn't necessary as except for mating adult cats have no need to communicate with each other. I am glad these kitties provide so much joy for you. Alas very allergic grandchildren are keeping us pet free though I see my granddog Kaya, the black shepherd and grand kitty Nala.

Snowbrush said...

"Over winter he eventually got well and is now almost too powerful for me to handle on our walks."

Four-wheel drive and a low center of gravity gives him a clear advantage.

"I read recently that adult cats only meow for humans. In the wild meowing isn't necessary as except for mating adult cats have no need to communicate with each other."

Lions are a highly communicative social species, but they don't meow. Given that my cats bathe, cuddle, sleep, and play together all day long, I assume that they are more intimate with one another than they are with Peggy and me, so I think it possible that they partially speak to us by meowing (they also speak to us in other ways) simply because we lack the subtlety and sophistication to understand much of the language that they use among themselves. The fact that their meows are accompanied by exclamation points would seem to bear this out.

OneOldGoat said...

Beautiful Harvey! Words can't describe the love I have for my feline family. We are blessed.