Control-freak Kitty

I have two beautiful Siamese cats here in Amsterdam and they’re not only beautiful in feature but also in personality, which is part of the reason I gravitate to Siamese more than any other breed.  People who are lovers of animals, but primarily dogs will often cite that cats don’t really seem to need people.  My cats need human love and affection or they suffer terribly from depression.  So much so that this last trip to the US they both lost a kilo in the animal hotel and lost their voices.  It’s only in this second week back that I am hearing them start to recover their meowing.  I can only guess that they must have cried themselves hoarse without my fiancé and I there to take care of them.

It’s horrible and makes me feel terribly guilty.

This last summer a couple we are friends with took them for us for the three months that we were gone to the US and because they had constant love and companionship they came back to us perfectly healthy.  This last trip, however, has been strange upon returning because I’ve been noticing that not only their voices have needed to recover, but also their spirits.

Mazzie and Minnie are sisters out of the same litter, but even when I went to visit them when they were only 5 weeks old they had completely different personalities.  Mazzie was clearly the more nervous of the two kittens who, but gingerly would let you pick her up.  Her favorite activity as a grown Siamese is to sit in my lap while I do research.  She loves nothing more than being in my lap if I’m sitting down.  Minnie, on the other hand, hissed at us when we first walked into the Breeder’s back room to look at the kittens.  It was the first time in 12 years that I’d seen a Siamese kitten hiss at someone and I said to Bart, “Look out!  That one’s going to be so feisty when she’s older!”  To be honest it made me leery of owning her because I didn’t really understand why a kitten would be hissing at people.  I wondered if there was something wrong with her.

Well, on the very bright side, I’ve never heard a hiss out of her since that day, but it was only this morning that I finally understood the origins of that hiss a year and a half ago.

Our two cats have different ways they want to receive love from people (naturally), just as different siblings in a family of humans have different ways of responding to and giving affection.  Mazzie is a snuggler, and there are times (like when Bart comes home from work) when she’ll sit there and literally yowl at you and that’s to say “Pick me up and hold me now!”  🙂  She wants to be rocked on your shoulder and petted and nuzzled.  She’s wants to be upright, however.

Years ago, when I graduated from high school, we went on a trip with my mother, my biological mother and my step-father to Montana.  While we were visiting my Aunt Alice in Missoula we went to the mall and there in a pet store I saw a beautiful white kitten laying in a cage.  I walked over and put my fingers through the bars of the cage and the kitten instantly started purring.  The manager (hoping for a sale on a Siamese) offered to let me hold him.  By this time, Mom had rolled over in her Hoveround and she was looking at him very speculatively.  She told me to go ahead and hold him.  I picked up the kitten and he curled up into my arms like a baby.  I’d never met such a sweet personality in a cat in all my life.  Then he licked my nose.  My mom laughed and said, “Well now I know what your graduation present is.”  So we came back from Missoula, Montana with a kitten.  Sasha loved most to be held just like a baby in a person’s arms, and Minnie does the same thing.  Sometimes I get a catch in my throat when she does the same thing, wriggling into a position so that I know to pick her up like a baby.  Sasha died two and a half years ago from cancer and it was one of the most heartbreaking things in the world for me to watch that loving cat (who remained so loving right up to the end) waste away from cancer.

He had done the work, however.  I love the Siamese breed more than any other because of that cat’s soul.

Minnie is another story altogether, however.  Something she does I’ve never been able to figure out and that is that rather than allow you to pet her she flinches if you touch her too quickly.  This flinchy behavior has always made me laugh about it when it would happen because it’s a strange sort of tickish flinch.  It’s almost as if she expects you to handle her roughly, but we never handle the cats meanly.  (Quite the opposite, in fact, because I know that the fastest way to create a vicious animal is to treat them viciously… That goes for humans too.)

This morning Minnie came up on the couch with me while Mazzie was nowhere to be found.  Probably napping above our closet, I suspect.  She looked around to make sure she was all alone and then settled into her favorite position to be petted.  She laid down on her back with her feet in the air.  No cat I’ve ever owned does this, but Minnie disappears in these kinds of petting sessions.  It’s really quite funny to watcher her wallow in the ecstasy you can tell she feels when she snuggles with you like this.  It’s a secret little side to her, though, because she won’t do it if her sister is around (or other humans, that I can ever remember.)  For several minutes it was just Minnie and I, and I realized the connection between her behaviors and her favorite way to be petted.  This cat lets go like no cat I know, but she is such a control-freak that she can’t let go unless she thinks she’s all alone and completely safe.

I know so many humans who are like this that I had to laugh.  I remembered her hissing when she was just a tiny tiny ball of fluff without any color at all (Siamese are born pure white and resemble nothing so much as a bunch of white mice when they’re newborn).  This kitten has been such a Miss-I-Must-Have-Things-My-Way in a public persona, but the reality of this cat is that she is more nervous about the world and its inhabitants than her sister, and her desperately hanging onto control is her way of trying to feel safe. For all that she seems like a more dominant cat, I observed early on in their household behaviors that Mazzie is actually the dominant sister.  Mazzie lets you pick her up and snuggle, but never lies on her back (true submission in the animal world).  Mazzie never flinches when you pet her or touch her spine.  Mazzie instigates and also ends playtime when it happens.

But it’s Minnie (heavier than Mazzie by a half kilo) who gives the world a flinch and a hiss.  Just trying to be brave.

Mazzie on the right and Minnie on the left.

Mazzie on the right and Minnie on the left.


~ by Rebecca Erickson on January 14, 2013.

One Response to “Control-freak Kitty”

  1. 🙂 This is so true. I did manage to get a hiss out of Minnie once but that was when I accidentally stepped on her tail 😦 She did forgive me the sweet thing.

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