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By Julia Otowa and Rebecca Otowa

Ok, so some of you may have been thinking, “How are those two cats, Boris and Daisy doing?” Well, I’m happy to say that this blog is an update about the cats.

In the morning they eat their breakfast and relax in front of the kerosene heater, soaking the warmth. They usually do this all morning and occasionally hop onto Grandma’s chair, which is situated near the window. In the afternoon, they would walk around the doma (breeze-way) and eat dinner, thus going back to sleep in front of the heater while Grandma and Grandpa eat their dinner.

It’s funny how the way they grow so fat, to tell the truth (Sorry, Boris and Daisy). But it’s also funny how the way their lives changed, and their personalities, living with us.

Boris is the same, confident, friendly black cat. He would casually saunter into the breeze-way meowing for food, even though he just finished eating.

Daisy is still timid and scared, his eyes wary. People get confused by calling Daisy “her,” so Grandma decided to call Daisy “Day” to avoid confusion.

One thing I’ve noticed is that unlike when they were little, they don’t “play” anymore. No more ball chases, getting lost in trees, adventures on the cat tower. Instead, they have the usual “romp around the room” in the evening. The heater will shake, the lamp will shudder, and their tails will slash furiously.

Boris and Daisy are brothers, but it’s kind of amazing how opposite their personalities are. I know it may sound weird, but sometimes I feel a jab of frustration at Daisy. Can he open up at least once? But it’s his personality, so I try not to judge.

Boris is outgoing and friendly, which is why I like him slightly more than Daisy. I mean, after all those layers of silky fur, he’s a quiet soul, preferring to stay by himself. Boris chooses to walk up to people and say, “Hi!” when visitors come, while Daisy zooms for the nearest chair or table. I scratch Boris behind the ear while he purrs loudly.

After all, they are the house-cats of our house, so I try to be friendly to them, saying, “Hi, Boris! Whatcha doing?” or “Hi, Daisy. You’re so soft! Oh yes, you are!”. My opinions toward them have not changed, but they have slightly wavered, giving me a chance to see them through new eyes. Daisy, the shy one, may be hiding a secret personality, while Boris, on the inside, might be cringing when we touch him. Who knows? Maybe they are thinking, “WHY IS THIS HUMAN MAKING WRONG ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT US??” I mean, anything is possible.

Well, one thing is for sure, I’m going to enjoy being with them forever.

(from Rebecca) I think the kids are just a little bit disappointed that Boris and Daisy didn’t stay kittens for very long. Now at the age of 9 months, they are no longer kittens but cats – heavy, mostly pretty sleepy, not as interesting as they used to be. I’ve had lots of time, over generations of cats, to get used to this change, but these are the first pets my grandchildren have had (except for a trio of very healthy goldfish who live in their kitchen). I think they hoped they would continue to act like kittens, playing with toys, jumping around, getting stuck on the roof, etc. Now they just either sleep (for a LONG time each day and night) or have a brief period of eating and rough-housing in early morning and late evening. This is very common with male cats – once they have their “operation”, they become couch potatoes. Plus now that it’s cold, they eat inside my kitchen, which lessens the time available for observation.

It’s all part of the reality of animals that kids need to learn about. I remember when I was young, we had three kittens, one for each daughter in the house. One morning when I was about 9, I tried to pick up my elder sister’s cat, Whuffy, and he squirted poop all over me. That was not a pleasant experience, but it did teach me an important lesson – that animals have a life of their own, and they are not always available when we want them to be. He was probably just about to “go to the bathroom” when I intercepted him and picked him up. Of course I didn’t know that, just as he didn’t know that I was going to pick him up at that very moment. So what happened was natural and inevitable. I gradually changed from wanting to control my pets to the “just watch and see what he does” mentality.

My policy with cats is, let them do just about whatever they want, whenever they want. It’s kind of nice to know that someone in the house is living the life. It’s relaxing. I do have a couple of rules, like no getting up on the table or kitchen counter; but I make sure they can get out of whatever room they are in if they need to, and I open the door for them when they want to come in. I don’t know what they are doing every minute, and that’s fine. I like the way my cats enjoy their freedom, and I also like the way they single-mindedly seek comfort. I think it’s kind of inspiring the way they absolutely avoid discomfort of all kinds.

After a lifetime of living with cats, I also think animals teach us what really matters and what doesn’t. Kind of like those “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” books. They know food, sleep, and exercise are important. Beyond that, they like to be amused; they like to be petted and told they are special and that they belong, and they like to interact with people on their own terms; also, they like the odd bit of adventure. What else is there?

Still, I sympathize with my grandkids. The period of kittenhood was so short, and they still want to play with the cats, but the cats just want to snooze (and hide). Well, this world is full of changes, and pets are no exception.

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