Matrix Reloaded: Fifteen Pounds of (Pouncing) Chest Cat and Major Kung-Fu

Jeff VanderMeer • September 2nd, 2009 @ 10:15 am • Photos


(Looks so evil. Not evil. Demented and nuts, but not evil.)

So. We have a new cat, who looks like the devil sometimes (see above) and sometimes looks like this:

Other times, the cat looks like this:

We got him from neighbors down the street who had put up a “Free Cat” sign as part of their garage sale. Because, with three cats already and all kinds of time commitments, we needed another beast in our lives. But Ann bonded and I enabled, and we took the cat, which otherwise might’ve gone back to the pound. The cat seemed well-fed, healthy, and apparently had a chip already.

We were told by the owners, who could not remember how long they’d had the cat and couldn’t produce any papers, that “Midnight” was an old female cat. Oh, we thought, that might restore the power balance at home, since we have two large males and one small female, and Midnight was huge. Our female cat hates the males, but perhaps this old female cat would draw less of her ire. Perhaps they’d even plot to take over the household from them stupid males.

Here’s another photo—this cat moves a lot. Impossible to take a good shot for the most part, so here’s part of a cat.

So, anyway, Ann leaves for Indiana and I take the cat down to the vet, and I fill the vet in on all the details–female, old, etc.—and he starts laughing and says, “Not only is this cat very young, maybe two years old, but this cat is a neutered male.”

So now instead of an old female cat we’ve got a YOUNG MALE cat. Which would explain all of the hullaballoo from Jango and Jackson when I’d first taken Midnight out of her/his carrier: such screeching and territorialism has never been seen outside of some kind of cat horror movie. The sounds coming out of Jango’s mouth were like a combination of a demonic duck and a banshee mountain lion. While Shosh, our female cat, gave me a look of utter contempt, as if to say, “another f—ing boy?!”, and ran the heck away, taking up a position as far from the other 39 total pounds of cat as possible.

Here’s another photo. Matrix Reloaded loves to play. That’s our current name for the cat—couldn’t tolerate Midnight. Anyway, Matrix Reloaded has some crazy fu going on. Like, you use the kitty tease (thanks Matt S!) and a complex series of jumping and whirling maneuvers occur that look like some kind of tightly choreographed dance, and before you know it the kitty tease has been ripped out of your hands and Matrix is sitting there calmly looking at you like he never ever moved.

The first night after Ann left for Indiana, I decided to keep Matrix in the bedroom with me, and the other cats outside—both so Matrix could have some peace from them, and so the other cats could have space in the rest of the house without feeling there was an intruder lurking. (We’d previously put Matrix in a complex “pen” formed by two chairs, a table, and a couple of footstools, where he could be seen but basically have shelter.)

Sometime around two in the morning, Matrix decided to move from my feet to my chest, so that I woke abruptly because I was suddenly having trouble breathing. Matrix could care less about my breathing ability, and maintained his chest position, and I, trying to be a good host and not spook him, endured it for another hour before I finally had to shove him off. It turns out chest-sitting is perhaps his favorite hobby. Chalk up one night to sleep deficit.

So, the next night, with the cats doing a little better job of getting along, I decided to just leave the bedroom door open and whatever happened happened. I also, foolish me, pulled up the blinds above the bed so that the cats could use the windowsill if they wanted. Since Matrix was sticking to his “pen” a lot, I figured it’d be the Three Originals in with me.

Around two in the morning I wake to a split-second impression of a whooshing sound and suddenly there is a huge weight on my chest, descending from above—Matrix having jumped from the sill onto my chest and then staying there while I screamed and turned on the light (since I had no idea what had just happened). Matrix, who apparently has ice water in his veins, is just calmly watching me, maintaining his grip on the sheets (and coincidentally my chest), not at all caring about my sudden thrashing about. Just looking at me with a kind of “whatever, dude,” stare. Possibly even some amusement.

More sleep-fail. The most peculiar thing, though? The other three cats scattered off the bed when Matrix leapt, which means that somehow he was quiet enough to make it to the windowsill without them noticing, since they still won’t quite tolerate him. The closest they’ve gotten so far, besides now being willing to all four eat together, is documented here (although Matrix had just killed a bug—the speck near him—so maybe Jango was just curious about the bug):

At first, I wasn’t sure if Matrix would fit into the household (superstitious, I even deleted a couple facebook messages about him just in case). He seemed too willing to stay in his “pen” and the other cats were like a blitzkrieg of snarling and hissing. But Matrix is turning out to be the inscrutable one. He appraises the other cats constantly, and whenever he notices even the slightest cessation of hostilities, he uses that opportunity to move closer, to walk by, or to in some other way do something that puts him in proximity, but not in a threatening way. I get the odd impression of an adult who feels confronted by three (or four) unruly children, and who is slowly integrating himself into that situation.

There also seems to be a secret amusement in him, possibly because when he’s breathing and purring, it comes out as a kind of whispering laughter. I don’t know how to describe it, but the other night, as he clung to my chest, it sounded like he was chuckling to himself about how funny life was.

I’m not quite sure what I’ll do tonight. Perhaps not make the windowsill so accessible. But for all I know Matrix will walk across the ceiling and just drop onto me from above.

Sleep deprivation is severe right now, but at the same time taking care of Matrix and serving as peacekeeper between him and the other cats is making me slow down and not be quite so fragmented. A few deadlines are going by the wayside, but I don’t mind so much.

7 Responses to “Matrix Reloaded: Fifteen Pounds of (Pouncing) Chest Cat and Major Kung-Fu”

  1. Jessica Reisman says:

    I’m such a pushover for cat stories. Yay for expanded cat tribe!

  2. Matt Staggs says:

    That’s a beautiful cat, and I’d be hard pressed myself to turn him away. I hope you and Meowtrix – I mean Matrix – have a great time getting to know each other.

  3. rina says:

    Laughing to himself? Clyde does that, although it sounds more like trilling…as if he’s swallowed a singing bird. Signifies deep, deep happiness at being held by his slave.

  4. Anne S says:

    Matrix looks a lovely cat, but I certainly don’t envy you dealing with the cat politics involved with his adoption. Good Luck!

  5. mircea says:

    :) Every cat has an evil side. Or two. And they show it mostly by night, when they creep up on you and take sit mostly on your chest. Mine is a head-sitter, he likes to purr right into my ear (deceiving lulling wispers). — Glad that Matrix helped you find that balance of domestic power. Or did I get wrong? :)

  6. Hellbound Heart says:

    ….i used to have a cat that liked to jump up on the bed while you were asleep and poke his snout in your ear and start purring……very disconcerting……but i must say matrix is a gorgeous pooosy cat…..
    peace and love….

  7. Angie says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Gotta love the Matrix! He’s survived an identity crisis and two hostile kitties and still manages to laugh in whispers – LOVE IT!

    My cat Herman does this chest ambush thing too. Usually anywhere between 2 and 3 am when I’m in my deepest sleep. Herman weighs in at ten kilos. I usually wake up gasping for air. He then taps my cheek at 5 am because he knows that my alarm will be going off any minute and that means kittie breakfast.

    Angie : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>