Petunia, for those who have not met her, is kinda bipolar.
She hasn’t been diagnosed or anything, but she’s definitely very two-faced.
There are basically two Petunia’s – there’s Princess Petunia Potpie, the sweet little calico who follows me around all morning, twirling around my ankles, rubbing her face against mine while I’m trying to sleep.
Then there’s the Petunia that my co-pet-parenting significant other XFE knows – a snarling, hissing she-beast who runs whenever he enters the room and scowls at him from between the banisters of the stairs.
It’s hard for me to reconcile the two.
I found Petunia at about six weeks old, hiding under a car while I was living on the East side of Austin. It was April and already warm, but being a poor college student, I wasn’t quite ready to turn the air conditioner on, so I had the windows of my studio apartment open. I kept hearing a noise that I thought was an annoying baby bird chirping. After about a day and a half of hearing the noise, I became convinced it was actually a scared and lonely cat mewing somewhere.
After several frustrating hours on my stomach in the asphalt parking lot and lots of sweat and tears, I finally coaxed out a tiny furball covered in grease and fleas.
She’s been my precious little Petunia blossom ever since. How do I know this?
- She comes running downstairs when I get home in the evening.
- She sits in the window and sadly watches me leave for work every morning.
- She sits on the toilet enjoying a steam facial while I shower every morning (I like my showers SCALDING).
- She sleeps with me in the winter and when XFE is out of town.
- She watches me while I iron on Sundays.
- She lays on the computer or a book if I’m reading and not paying attention to her.
- She shares the couch with me every night while we watch TV.
- She lets me pick her up and rub my face all over her exposed belly.
- She lets (and actually loves it) if I pet her while she eats. Most animals are weird and protective about their food, but she purrs away and eats faster.
But she’s a very divisive figure in our household. XFE started off not really liking cats. In fact, he said he was allergic to cats. But, he’s warmed up to her over the years. He’s seen the special relationship Petunia and I share, the affectionate cuddles, and well, he wants a piece of the action. He wants to, oddly enough, pet the cat once in a while.
This, however, is not meant to be.
XFE, Petunia and I have lived together for about six years. And even after all that time, she’s never warmed up to XFE. This despite the fact that (a) he’s very cuddly; and (b) he’s never been anything but gentle and nice to her. However:
- When he tries to pet her, she leans away.
- When he actually succeeds in making contact, she actually looks like she’s in physical pain.
- If I’m holding her in my arms like a wiggly captive so XFE can pet her, she flinches every time he touches her. Flinches. Her skin and fur actually shirks away.
- She will swipe at him (but to be fair, she’ll swipe at me too when she’s over it).
- She’ll hiss at him (again, to be fair, she also apparently hissed at Amy when she was pet sitting for us and Amy is just about the sweetest, most gentle person on the planet.)
- She’ll growl at him.
And in her latest passive-aggressive (or should I say, just aggressive-aggressive) move, Petunia has taken to sitting in XFE’s chair whenever he’s not in it. So if he makes the mistake of getting up to get something to drink, or go to the bathroom, she flies (not an easy feat for such a large cat) down the stairs and across the dining room and jumps in his chair. Where she will then start furious licking her privates. And glare at you if you come near her.
Petunia will, however, let XFE pet her, grudgingly, if he gives her treats. She’s angry, not stupid. Her affection can be bought with treats. Maybe we should put some anti-bipolar meds in those treats.