After a many-month certification process, my partner and I signed our foster license on Saturday. By Monday, we got a call to place a 7-month-old baby, who came to live with us on Tuesday night. We're delighted. Our orange tabby, however, is not impressed.
In the 5 or 6 years we've had the cat, he's been the undisputed king of the household and the subject of 90 percent of our conversations. Here's sample pre-baby dialogue in my home:
Emily: Have you seen that guy?
Mr. Emily: What guy?
Emily: That guy. (pointing at the cat)
Mr. Emily: Oh, him? I love that guy.
Repeat ad naseum. 24 hours after we got the baby, I realized I had yet to feed/think about/look at/or talk to the previous vortex of our household's love and attention.
Oh man, I thought. The cat is gonna be pissed.
Our regularly scheduled routine, previously managed within minutes by his mewling and toe-biting, is thoroughly upside down. The funny part is that he's not using any of the asshole antics he usually enlists to get our attention.
Usually, if I'm in bed a minute past 6 am, he starts his onslaught of screeching and raking his nails down any scratchable surface until I get up and feed him. Yesterday, I got up a half-hour late, gave the baby a bottle, then the whole family napped in bed until 10:30, and he just slinked away. It's almost like he knows he's deafeated, and that no mewling or knocking stuff off the counter is going to trump a baby.
Aside from making himself scarce, he's hardly eating. Since the initial whirlwind, I've made an effort to give him some extra attention, but this baby business has got him thoroughly perturbed.
I spent 10 minutes lying down next to him and stroking his fur, which is coming off his body in huge, anxious clumps. So far he's steering clear of the new addition; he clearly doesn't know what to make of this squirmy creature who so easily usurped his power.
And look -- he's kind of dumb. I've seen him repeatedly launch himself directly into a wall, hit the ground, then do it again immediately. But even he can tell his reign as our furry, spoiled baby is over. There's a new sheriff in town, and his feet are adorable.
I keep flashing back to when he was a kitten, and I used to stare at him and feel like my heart might explode. That I couldn't take the loving, as if the levels of my feelings for him were at physically dangerous levels and I might die.
The love I already feel for the baby is different, more of a warm, relaxed light that spreads through my whole body and blots out the rest of the world. I'm not sure I've really looked at my boyfriend since Tuesday night, much less Jimbo. I love everything a little bit less by virtue of how all-encompassing my love is for this sweet little baby boy.
But poor Jimbo can't help it he's not a warm little human. So I feel bad for the guy, who was so suddenly, unexpectedly ousted from his place as the warm, beloved center of our family. It sucks, but he's not getting that place back any time soon. Hopefully, he'll come join us on the couch anyway. There's plenty of room.