Monday, February 23, 2009

Maybe She's Got a Touch of the OCD

Let me tell you a little something about my cat.

Abbey has a lot of interesting and funny habits. For instance, she has a very distinct face she makes whenever she smells something she does not like. She makes this face when there's some gross foreign scent on the carpet, when there's orange or orange peel or orange-scented dust spray around, and when she gives herself bath in the ass area. The face is one of true revulsion. It is a face that says, Oh just what the hell is THAT? She wrinkles up her nose, separates her jaw so that her teeth show, and stares off into the distance for a minute, hoping that smell will leave her nasal passages before she has to take another breath.

It's also true that my cat might have some obsessions, some compulsions, and that maybe she needs a little therapy because a day doesn't go by when she doesn't engage in this:

No, I'm not talking about the kneading of the cat bed that she absolutely refuses to sleep in. Cats knead. I know. My old cat would knead anything--a bed, a blanket, my head--with the hopes of making it just the smallest bit more comfortable before she settled down on it.

No, what I'm talking about is the thing hanging from her mouth as she does the kneading. That is batting from the underside of my recliner. Abbey no longer has her front claws, but she's a resourceful girl. She gums and nips at that batting until there are giant piles of it stored up under the chair. For a while, I was gathering those piles up when they got too big and started peeking out from underneath the chair's edges. I gathered them up and put them in the corner, on her cat bed, the one she never sleeps in, the one that instead of being used for sleep is used for storing her various toys: mice, ribbons, jingle balls, and that creepy G.I. Joe figurine she dragged out from some unknown nook or cranny in the old apartment.

For a while at night, when I was watching television or reading a book or something, I'd hear a tinkle of the jingle balls as Abbey puttered around near the cat bed and her toys. I didn't really think anything of it. And then one night I actually watched what she was doing. She was digging her nose deep into the mountain of batting and holding it in her mouth before kneading the cat bed beneath her.

It is her favorite thing to do. She won't knead unless there's fluff. But if there is fluff--and, since she pulled out quite a bit of the extra stuffing from my chair, there is plenty of fluff--she will go to town on that bed like it's nobody's business. She looks like Santa Claus. She looks a little wild-eyed and crazy. She looks like she's two seconds away from being shuttled off to the loony bin.

I love it, of course. It's one of my favorite things to watch. It's ridiculously cute. It makes me want to get down on the floor next to her and examine the ritual from all angles because maybe I'll figure out why she loves it, why she has to do it, why she needs to look so much like a miniature Santa Claus while she kneads a bed she will never sleep in.


Chatty Cathy said...

Is that American Idol I hear playing in the background?

That is really cute, by the way. She doesn't swallow any of it, does she?

Jess said...

Yes, it totally IS American Idol. Abbey and I are fans! :)

She doesn't swallow any of it. She just likes to hold it and carry it around.

Chatty Cathy said...

Yes, I remember! This is the Jason Castro lunatic who emailed you. hahaha

Oh, that's good that she doesn't swallow it. Smart cat! Mine would totally ingest it. I love it when cats have quirky little personalities. My cats do the stinky face, too.

Jason said...

I've read that the face you're describing means the cat likes what she's smelling.

Ours do that sometimes, too--in contexts that shouldn't be associated with pleasure.