Fathead ? an enigma of the feline world

Fathead ? an enigma of the feline world By Bob Karolevitz Fathead is as dumb as a box of rocks. I can say that because Fathead can't read either.

I've seen cats that are mentally marginal, but I think daughter Jill's little monster has an IQ of zilch. But she loves him!

He was the runt of a litter, and she felt sorry for him. Small as cats go, he developed what seemed to be an extra growth of black fur from the neck up � and thus his name, Fathead.

Jill literally saved his nine lives. They probably would have been snuffed out by truck or tractor wheels, if his feline siblings wouldn't have done him in. Now he's a plaything, like a rag doll, apparently happy to be tossed around and jostled without a retaliatory move. Never a hint of scratching or hissing.

In his own dim-bulb way, he seems to be totally content. He shows no signs of "rampant egotism," which writer Robertson Davies says is a feline trait. Neither does Fathead "contrive to be suave," as Davies contends that all cats do. Frankly, he couldn't care less.

He doesn't even purr in the usual way. I believe he considers that a waste of energy.

Phyllis and I had the unique experience of cat-sitting him for a week or so while Jill went on vacation. She brought a baby's playpen over for her pet to stay in.

"But won't he just crawl out?" Phyllis asked.

"Not Fathead," Jill answered. "He'll just lie there until it's time to feed him, and then he'll go to his dish."

And that's what Fathead did!

He hardly moved for seven days. Phyllis finally put him out on the lawn to give him a change of scenery. He just sat there. He didn't chase squirrels or birds or butterflies. He simply waited for Jill to come home.

We had read somewhere that if you watch a cat's tail, you can tell what mood they're in. If they switch it violently, they're angry. If the tip quivers, it means they're excited and happy to see you. If the tail moves back and forth on the ground, it's a sign of playful anticipation.

Fathead's tail didn't give us a clue. Was he so aloof? Or maybe he just didn't want to show his emotions.

The week passed without incident as far as cats were concerned. However, Phyllis, who was used to them crawling up on her lap, simply couldn't understand why that little fur ball was so different from all the other cats she had cuddled.

Not being a feline lover especially, I even found myself talking to Fathead in the playpen and wondering why he was so uncat-like. He stared back, and that's all he did. He was an enigma, to say the least.

I suppose Phyllis and I have had or known dozens of cats in our almost-fifty years together. Patches, Poochy, Toshi, Baxter, Bailey, Darold, Other Brother Darold, Muffin, Mugs and many more have come and gone at our place.

We've known Sam Spayed, Eartha Kitty, Lady Catterley and even one named Rover who belonged to somebody else. But there has only been one Fathead!

At last Jill came home. She picked up that furry glob of hers and threw him playfully into the air. Then she patted and pummeled him so much that Phyllis and I feared she was overdoing it. Cat abuse, we thought.

But it just showed us what little we knew about that strange little animal which had been an almost immobile guest at our house.

Do you know what? As Jill continued that rough-house treatment, I think I saw the tip of Fathead's tail quivering!

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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