Meet the critters: Nigel

The red-headed stepchild. Aliases: Winston, The Fluffy One, Mr. Fluffypants.

Nigel is . . . special. He is what happens when you begin to muse aloud that maybe your solo Mortie Cat needs a friend with whom to spend those long workdays. “Wouldn’t that be nice?” you think, while drying your hands on an antique linen tea towel, surveying your peaceful domicile and possibly preparing to make very charming cupcakes. Little kitten friends, you imagine, quietly napping in fluffy heaps around the house. Grooming one another lovingly. Cleaning each other’s little kitten ears. A kitten friend to make snuggling so appealing that Mort no longer feels the need to trounce across your face at 3am. Oh yes. How lovely that would be!

Two days after you think that, colleagues bring to work the softest, fluffiest, strawberry blonde kitteh ever to walk the earth. He has the prettiest aqua eyes that peer out meekly from his travel bucket. Imploring you. Beseeching you. “Look at these adorable tufts of fur between my toes,” they say. “Have you ever seen anything so painfully adorable? Wouldn’t you like them to stroke your forehead gently on nights that sleep eludes you? Wouldn’t my fluffy apricot-ness contrast in just the most aesthetically pleasing way with your resident stripey cat? Am I not the most preternaturally calm kitten you have ever seen in a travel bucket?” Those eyes. They say so many things. Good things. Sweet things.

And then your colleagues tell you that they need to relocate the cat because he’s a crazy runaway that zips into their house like he owns the joint, they don’t like cats, and nobody in the neighborhood will claim him. And you dismiss the fleeting suspicion that maybe his eyes are fibbing just a little because ohmygodhe’sjustthecutestthing!

But you are not the only one smitten. Colleague One lives alone and maybe a cat would be good for him. So you demur, and he takes the cat. But you ask about the cat, and Colleague One gives strange, evasive answers. And he asks you if you’re still interested in having the cat because it’s maybe just not the right cat for him. And then he finally comes to you and confesses that, for two weeks, he’s been avoiding his house because when he’s there the cat is just. so. needy. Oppressively needy.

And then Colleague Two steps up and says that, if you don’t want the cat, she will happily take it because she lives in the country and her barn cat has just been eaten by a coyote and she could use a replacement.

So you take the cat, to save him from becoming a snack.

And you spend the next 9 months keeping your Mortie Cat and this cat, who you’ve named Nigel, separated because they hate each other with the fire of a thousand filthy litterboxes. You have innumerable vet consults because the Nigel Cat suddenly, randomly loses control of his back legs, and he falls off of things, and because oh, those fluffy paws you dreamt would pet you to sleep? He actually employs them to wrap himself around your head in order to try and chew out your eyeballs. But only when nobody else is around to see it. And only when you’re sleeping. So everyone begins to think that it’s you who suffers some sort of neurological impairment and not the damned cat.

The next two years of your life are napless and filled with cat fights all because of you and your tea towel daydreams.

And then, one day, it just stops. The crazy aggression just . . . goes away.

Or, rather, it turns into obsessive licking, and most of the charming grooming sessions you dreamt of are carried out on other humans or to the great detriment of your favorite sweaters and fleeces, but you don’t care because you no longer fear sleeping and, eventually, you catch the cats posing as The Rape of Europa on your papasan chair and all is somehow right with the world.