Boodie is our “invisible” cat. The one that visitors never see. People come over and they think we only have two cats. Binga is a spicy tortie hostess, who must greet everybody as soon as they walk through the door. Sparkle, the diva, waits to make an appearance and watches disdainfully from a distance — look, but do not touch. Boodie finds a hiding spot and vanishes until the strangers are gone. Then she reappears as if there had been nothing amiss.
This is no surprise because when I first brought Boodie to my house, it was to socialize her. She was semi-feral and frightened of people. She hissed at anyone who approached her and even though she was a gorgeous, fluffy Ragdoll girl, the rescue who took her in couldn’t possibly hope to adopt her with that attitude. My soul cat, Harlot, had just died and I didn’t want Binga to be alone, so I volunteered to work on Boodie. I did manage to acclimate her to people, or at least people who she considered “family.” She was social enough to be shown to potential adoptors, but the rescue only called for her once and then I never heard from them again. Even though I feel they kind of dumped her on me, Boodie did not care. She was where she felt she should be, and as far as she was concerned she was home. It just shows that even the quietest cat has an iron will!
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Boodie keeps to herself during the day, soaking in the morning sun puddles on one of the loungers in the living room, and enjoying the afternoon sun on the dining room table. She never jumps on the desk to poke me like Sparkle does, or nag me incessantly for dinner an hour ahead of schedule like Binga. She waits patiently for her meals, only emitting an occasional meep. Occasionally she’ll grab a cat toy and carry it around the house in her mouth, moaning loudly to announce her catch. That’s the only time she makes a lot of noise. Otherwise she stays in the background and lets the other cats get all the attention. If she wasn’t such a big ball of fluff, it would be easy to forget she is even there.
So I was surprised at the silence in the house when I took Boodie to the vet for teeth cleaning recently. The rooms echoed with the sound her absence. Sparkle and Binga noticed it, too. They were more impatient with each other. Boodie, being the undercat, can be the target of any simmering aggression Binga has going on. Boodie accepts Binga’s borderline-aggressive play as part of life and an hour later they will be found napping next to each other. On this day, with no one to bounce off of, Binga and Sparkle traded testy whaps.
What is the sound of one cat missing? A too-silent house, the quietude broken every so often by two querulous kitties. Our home had lost its rhythm, like a rock band without a bass player. You don’t hear the absence so much as feel it.
Boodie came home that afternoon with a clean bill of health (not even one tooth extraction!). As soon as the veterinary clinic smell wore off her, everything went back to normal — she returned to her usual napping spots and getting knocked around by Binga. And with every tiny meep I heard at dinnertime, I knew all was right with the world.