06 April 2013

Princess Josephine

This is the third in a series of profiles of my cats. See also "My Hairy Butt" and "Muffin".

I was against ever having a cat, much less a second cat. But then one afternoon, this tiny little black kitten was trotting around outside and curiosity got the better of me. I opened the door to take a closer look but to my surprise, she bolted right through the door and flopped onto the couch in the living room. There was not a moment's hesitation on her part. I was rather stunned, of course. She displayed no temerity whatsoever. On the contrary; she behaved as though she belonged already. She made no effort to explore; she was already home and knew where everything was. I can't explain it any better than that.

I was still reluctant, so what we did was put her into the carrier and bring her to Muffin. If they seemed to get along, we decided she'd stay. There was some hissing - which was hysterical because he'd never done that - but she was entirely unfazed and eventually he seemed to shrug it off, too. Just like that, we had a second cat.
Josephine with a toy mouse, Christmas 2011.
I hadn't gotten to name Muffin, or the rabbit we had before him, Foufer, so I was insistent that at the very least I get to name this newcomer. It didn't take long at all. I recalled an anecdote that Dr. Bruce Tyler shared in one of the several courses I took of his at the University of Louisville. There was an incident in which famed African-American entertainer Josephine Baker strolled into a nightclub in Harlem. Being African-American, she was perfectly welcome to perform there, but she was not welcome as a patron. Just the same, she strolled to her table and basically double-dog dared anyone to remove her. That was pretty much what this audacious kitten had just done, and that's how she came to be part of the family and to be named Josephine.

I also enjoyed the play on the comic book characters, Josey and the Pussycats, plus I've long been fascinated by Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife was Josephine. Those were incidental, though; it was the Baker anecdote that came to mind and fit perfectly.
Hands down, my favorite picture of Josephine.
Josephine has a very mellow manner. She has never been particularly rambunctious or demanding. She does, however, have severe separation anxiety when I'm away from her very long. When we went to visit my wife's family in Florida a few years ago, we returned to discover that she'd ballooned in size and thrown up so much she gave herself ulcers. It took nearly a week for her to return to normal. She doesn't require much from me, though, which is the funny thing. She just likes to know I'm around. As long as she can see me, she's fine.

Josephine's favorite thing in the whole wide world is cardboard. If it resembles a box, she'll either try to fit into it or lie atop it. The moment I've opened packages, I've found her claiming the emptied box before I've even unwrapped its contents. It's kind of like that phase that toddlers go through, where you could just get them big boxes for presents and they'd be just as happy as they are with whatever you actually gave them, except that she hasn't outgrown this phase - just the boxes themselves.
While playing Operation with my niece, Josephine discovered she fit in its box.
Despite her size, she actually isn't much of an eater. She doesn't eat much at a time, though she does return to the food bowls more often than the others. She's actually reluctant to take most scraps. She'll pass on most meat, but loves her some fries. A couple of months ago, while I was eating some Rally's, I had lifted my burger to my mouth. She timed it so that both hands were occupied with that, then knocked over my fries, sneaked her head in, grabbed one and ran off with it all in the time it took me to take my bite of the burger! She had absolutely no shame whatsoever about that, and I was too surprised to even be angry about it. It was out of character for her to do something like that, and I have to be careful about chastising her because just saying her name in a cross manner can hurt her feelings so much that she'll hide for hours.

Josephine is also my chief snuggler. Most nights, she'll curl up beside me in bed with her front legs draped over my upturned arm, with my head resting against her. She's a big girl (so big that her shoulderblades don't actually touch), so it's actually pretty cozy for both of us. She instantly purrs and this is often how I fall asleep. When she falls asleep, she often snores which I still find hilarious. She's completely spoiled, which is why I refer to her as my princess.

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