I may have mentioned that Aerie is a rescuer of cats. After Thumper was born, though, it seemed like our family's commitment to cats was dwindling, that saving cats wasn't quite as important as it was before. After all, with a baby, there's more than enough poop, pee, and puke to clean up without adding the extra burden of feline bodily fluids spattered around the house.
As Thumper got older, I began to wish maybe the whole cat thing would end. It's important to Aerie in a deeply emotional way that goes back years and years and years, but she seemed to be moving toward an acceptance of the end of cats, too. And I thought there might at last be an end to urine and vomit stains in the carpets.
Then Aerie's boss was found by a stray that he could not take in because there was no more room in his pet-loving home. So Aerie and I agreed to give him a home. Timmy (named by Thumper for the baby sheep in Shaun the Sheep, a spin-off from Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave) is a great cat, very friendly and more than willing to sit on my lap and let me pet him. He almost never throws up, but he does have a pathological need to pee near all of the windows in the house whenever a stray comes by, despite my assurances to him that none of those strays can get in anyway. It's his territory, dammit, and he must mark it.
And then, of course, a few months ago, we went out to dinner with Thumper, and afterwards went to the ice cream shop, and the bookstore, and the pet store so that he could look at the fish and the ferrets, the bunnies and the lizards and the birds. And the kitties that the pet store was adopting out for the local county animal shelter. And then, of course, we went home with Eva (named by Thumper for the character from Igor voiced by Molly Shannon, and the robot Eve that Wall-E insists on calling "Eva" in the adorably apocalyptic Disney Pixar movie). She was well-named, for she is both evil and sweet, like Igor's creation, and strong and independent with a soft side, like the plant-seeking robot.
She's only 6 or 7 pounds, a tiny little thing, but she, not her 15- or 16-pound brother Timmy, is the one I warn parents and kids about when they come over for play dates. She will mess you up. She will cut you like a gangbanger in prison. She's got shivs aplenty.
Like Puck before her, though, she has bonded to Aerie. She wants very little to do with Thumper and me, but she follows Aerie around the house like a dog. When Aerie went out of town last week, Eva sat by the door, patiently waiting most of the night for her to come home. When Aerie leaves for work in the morning, Eva actually grumbles, moping her way to the bedroom to sleep on the bed most of the day.
But she'll still tear the hell out of Aerie's hands and arms. She'll still swipe at her legs. She latches on and kicks and kicks, and Aerie works patiently to grow her trust, to extend the time that Eva will tolerate petting before she lashes out. Aerie once had to get antibiotics for a cat bite, and she is constantly covered in healing scabs, but still she works and works and works to soothe the savage beast.
And today, I realized: Eva is Aerie's familiar. They have a strong bond because she is the embodiment of Aerie's true animal spirit. She will love and love and love, but watch out, because if she loses trust for you, she will fuck you up for sure.