Oh, Jake.

When I adopted Jake, I wasn’t considering much about his own needs, his own personality. I wanted a companion for Tristan, and I was interested in a “special needs” cat…a special need on the easier side of the scale, it is true, but for much of the public something as simple as a kinked tail (like Tempest has) or wariness of strangers (like Tristan has)…anything that makes them not perfect makes them less likely to be adopted.

So, easy “special need” or no, it would make a difference.

When I saw Jake come up on a website that published information about deaf animals around the country, I contacted the rescue right away. With so many animals needing homes, it’s hard to know how to choose one. So my criteria: young (for Tristan’s sake) and special need (for my sake) and local (for convenience) made the choice for me.

I brought him home, and he was best friends with Tristan right away. They love to play together, wrestling, chasing, co-playing with some of the toys, or just curling up together. It’s been a lot rougher going with Tempest, though slowly (almost 2 years later) things are getting a bit better.

Jake has been a huge challenge in other ways. His personality is giant, his curiosity endless. He is athletic and nimble and has a drive to get as high as possible, to climb everything possible. He gets into cabinets and closets, he gets into everything.

I’m constantly Jake-proofing more and more areas. I have to be careful about anything I put on the counters. I sneak into the kitchen to prepare my breakfast and lunch for the next day because if Jake is awake and knows I’m in there he’ll try to steal some of my cereal.

He has broken so many bowls and plates and glasses and pots (with plants in them!) that I call him the smashtivist.

He broke another plate tonight. My fault, I’d left it on the counter.

He is a trip. He loves to climb on my bike like it’s a jungle gym. He has incredible balance, it always amazes me. He jumps on my back and uses me as a launch pad to higher places. My fault, I encouraged this at one point, not imagining the day when I’d be cleaning the litter box or getting something from the fridge and have him jump onto my back.

He has a purr like a little motor, and when he gets on top of the fridge while I’m cooking (something he’s *slowly* learning is preferred, though sometimes he hangs out in the sink instead…keeping him out of there completely can be accomplished only by shutting him in the bathroom), he half rolls over to try to entice me to scratch his chin.

Everything he does, he does with unbridled enthusiasm and focus. It’s my habit to give them treats when I leave for work in the morning. I use hard treats, and break them into small pieces, which I “hide” throughout the condo. The cats all know where “their” spots are to search for the treats. Tristan purrs like mad the whole time. Jake pounces on his treats, as if they’re about to run away from him. Of course this belief of his is justified, as his pounces often send the treats flying. I keep hoping that someday I’ll figure out how to get video of this behavior of his!

Jake has ended up as the star of my three cat household, stealing a lot of attention from the others. It makes me laugh to think about that, since I didn’t give him or his individual personality that much thought when I adopted him. He fit certain criteria that I had in mind. And the most important one – that he be a good buddy to Tristan – he fulfilled from the first second they met. It still makes me smile to remember the way Jake went straight to the patio door to look out over the patio, and Tristan shadowed him, uncertain but curious. They sat next to each other, identical postures, but one black and one white, and they have been buddies ever since.

All the rest…well, it’s obvious to me that Jake’s deafness is the easiest part of his personality to handle. It makes me laugh. I thought his deafness was his “special need”, I thought his deafness would make him hard to adopt. It turns out that his special need was for someone who could be patient. Someone who would be exasperated while she cleaned up the latest thing he broke, but who would mostly be concerned with making sure he didn’t cut his food (again) on the shards of his latest disaster.

Shards can be swept and vacuumed, plates can be replaced. His life is precious, yet we all know that plenty of people would have dumped this precious challenging cat at a shelter because they just wouldn’t have wanted to deal.

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