Essay: Attention seeker

Taro was a lone and apartment-bound cat. Perhaps for this reason, he demanded much attention in the evening while awake. If I brought work home or tried to write letters, he came to sit right on top of whatever was spread on my desk. Even if I tried to push him, he would not budge. Usually, I had to give in and give up my plans.

When I had adopted him, I did not realize how much time I would have to devote to him. It became nearly impossible to bring home any work as I had before.  I now had to reserve my evenings for him.

Sometimes he was naughty, but I wondered if he was being so just to get my attention. It was as if he just wanted to get scolded by me. It was probably a way to reassure himself that I was not ignoring him.

For example, I normally hung the laundry on a rack placed in the other bedroom. Seeing my clothes being dried, Taro would climb on top of the rack, dropping the clothes onto the floor. He managed to do this by pulling each item off the rack with his teeth. If I yelled at him, he would stop for awhile, but within a few minutes he would not only resume but with determination. If I ignored him, he usually stopped behaving in that way.

Taro also scratched small rugs placed here and there in the apartment to get my attention. He normally attacked the one nearest to me, wherever I happened to be. While doing this, he would observe my face. It was as if he was testing to see how much he could irritate me. If I scolded him, he would stop, but repeat it seconds later with enthusiasm. If I ignored him, he would quit immediately and follow me to another room.

Once in a while, I wished he would leave me alone, but when he sat quietly away from me, I would find myself behaving like a worried mother. I would wonder if he was sick or had a fever and would pick him up and put my forehead against his nose to feel his temperature.

One evening I was working at my desk, but strangely there was no sign of him. Usually, he would appear from somewhere and spread his furry body on top of it. By this time I was so used to getting interrupted by him that his absence made me worry. Taro! Taro! I called out his name, but he did not appear. Where could he be, I wondered.  Suddenly, I felt a tightness at the right hemline of my jeans. It was Taro pulling it with his teeth. It was as if he was saying, “Mommy, don’t panic. I’m right here at your feet.”  (from Taro and Tomi: My Feline Son and Daughter, 2007)

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