I was leaving work around 9 pm one night and on my way to the car I heard a howling coming from bushes far away, long painful cries from a large and distraught animal. I went to investigate and found this fella, at the time small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, loud enough to sound like a wounded lion.
Clearly his mother had abandoned him and he was desperate and, not surprisingly, starving. I picked him up and took him home, thinking I’d find a new home for him in a couple of days.
He would have none of it. From the beginning he was staunchly attached to me. He sensed whenever I was thinking of giving him away and would come sit in front of me and stare directly into my eyes with a fierce determination I’ve never seen in any animal. He is the most strong-willed being I have ever met, human or otherwise. I fell in love and named him Munchkin (little did I know how big he’d get).
A friend of mine who knows such matters told me he is a Norwegian Forest cat. I looked them up to see what their dispositions are like and every place I looked said they’re very sweet, easy-tempered, mellow cats.
Munchkin never got the memo. He’s always been fierce.
The Norwegian Forest cat came to America on Viking ships. This I can believe. Munchkin is a Viking. I’m quite sure because he certainly has Viking manners.
When he wants something he just takes it and if he can’t have it, he bellows, swats and growls like a Viking chieftain.
Just to give you an example, my sister was here wrapping presents last month for the holidays. Munchkin was lying on a bag of gift bows. When she got to the point of needing a bow she tugged at the bag indicating he should get up. He glared and yelled at her. So she picked him up and moved him off of the bag. She secured a bow on top of the present she was wrapping. While maintaining fixed eye contact with her, Munchkin took his right paw and whacked the bow hard enough to send it flying across the room. Then, maintaining very defiant eye contact, he pointedly sat back down on the bag.
He’s a very deliberate cat.
In the beginning I didn’t see how we could possibly co-exist. He played rough with the other cats and took flying leaps, landing on everyone who came to visit me, shocking the heck out of them (he’d land on your thigh and hang on by his nails). He’d fall asleep with his face on my hand while I was working on my laptop and then attack me if I moved it. I have scars. He yelled at me if I was even a little late coming home. He ripped apart furniture if I was working and he wanted to play. He was a little barbarian.
Yet fiercely loyal and completely attached. Whatever room I’m in, he’s in it too. A passionate presence.
After 14 years of living with me, I’ve taught him how the feminine of my species likes to be treated. It took a bit of explaining.
It’s amazing how telepathic he is and how sensitive he is. He’ll always be a Viking (and I’ve grown to love that), but he’s now also a sweetheart. He now treats me with kindness, respect and gentleness. He’s sweet and loving with the other cats. He trills rather than screeches when he wants something. He lets me move my arm when he’s sleeping with his head on it while I’m working. He’s always curled up either near or on me. He loves to play.
He still tries to pull everyone’s pants down (he’s often successful but I’m not going to show you pictures). When he’s very happy, he still tries to bite me and has drawn blood if I didn’t catch it in time, but now I can usually see it coming and I can tell from the look in his eye it’s a pure expression of love.
‘Tis a fierce love we have.
Recently he developed a lump on his left side. I took him to the vet last week. He said it’s malignant, aggressive and inoperable. I can’t believe how fast it’s growing.
Ever since Munchkin developed the lump, he started sleeping on my head at night. At first he would get on top of the pillow, on top of my head, and gradually take over the entire pillow, moving my head off completely. After a couple mornings of waking up with my head at a right angle and the stiffest neck imaginable, I put an identical pillow for him next to mine and got him to lay down on it. Soon as I fell asleep, he’d move over to my pillow and move my head off. I would move over to the other pillow and after I fell asleep, he’d move over there too.
So I explained to him that I was happy to share a pillow with him but that he has to share it, he can’t take all of it. So now he makes a “C” around my head, his front paws by one ear, his body wrapped around my head and his back paws by my other ear. A friend of mine calls it a cat halo. He just wants to stay connected as closely and with as much physical contact as possible.
So it is with us.
The vet’s prescription is to spoil him rotten. So I went to the pet store and splurged on $76 worth of cat toys. Anyone who has pets knows it takes a lot to spend that much on cat toys, you have to buy a lot of stuff. He is especially happy with a large carrot filled with catnip.
I have three cats and you can’t spoil one without spoiling the others, so they’re all in cat play time heaven. Munchkin can’t play that long now, but he does enjoy the minutes he can and I can see he’s very proud of it.
Munchkin and I have a world of wordless communication.
Fierce. Fierce love, fierce loyalty, a fierce intention.
I have no doubt it is immortal.
May you too have someone in your life who loves you so fiercely.
Ingrid and Munchkin