This is our cat Hamlet.
Last May a litter of kittens showed up outside our window. Being soft-hearted cat people who hadn’t already learned their lesson trying (failing) to help a stray a year before, we felt we had to take care of them and find them homes.
One of them never left. My husband named him Hamlet Samuel.
I can’t tell you everything about Hamlet in one blog post, but I want to record a few things that we love about him.
At mealtime, while we are getting the tub of food down off the refrigerator and putting kibble in their bowls, he rubs against his brothers excitedly, with a force that makes them stumble.
Hamlet is quite coordinated and athletic. At eight weeks, he was doing things that Tristan had never been able to do, like climb on top of the refrigerator or get on the counter. The other day I saw him jump from the toilet tank to the shower curtain rod, where he balanced for a beat before stepping to the showerhead, then down to the windowsill, and finally the bathtub. He is my sweet little monkey.
It took Hamlet a long time to learn to meow properly. Before then, all he said was “eee-ooh,” with varying speed and inflections. This earned him the name “Baby Eee-ooh.”
Hamlet loves paper. He used to chew on whatever was on top of the wooden inbox where I put mail and bills. I had to take a library book to the circulation desk and say, apologetically, “My cat ate the cover.” Fortunately, he is largely reformed on this front.
Hamlet is a happy, confident little cat. He has always walked around with his tail held high. It curves at the end like a question mark.
He was a little slow to warm up to physical affection with us. It started with little things like me realizing he was sitting on my feet while I stood at the kitchen sink, moved on to him climbing on my husband’s shins as he propped his feet on the coffee table, and then, finally, we would be eating dinner and suddenly one of us would feel a little presence in his or her lap. However, he cuddled with his big brothers from the hour his birth siblings left our house.
He has always been very responsive. He answers when you ask him a question. Often, you just have to say his name for him to say something back. He answers to “Hammy,” “Hamlet,” “Eee-ooh” (with or without “Baby” or “Commander” in front of it), or just “Baby.” We call Hamlet’s conversational noises “speaking sandwich” (get it? Hamlet Samuel? Hammy Sammy? Ham Sandwich?).
He plays fetch. He will bring me a bouncy ball and drop it at my feet and wait for me to throw it. If it rolls under something and he cannot get to it, he comes back without it and looks at me expectantly. He knows I will go find it for him.
He likes the dishwasher. He has figured out how it works, and I think soon he will be able to start it on his own. If we can get it on video, he’ll be the next Nora the Piano Cat.
I think one of the most endearing things about Hammy is that it never occurs to him that he may not be invited or that you may not want to share with him. Your lap looks comfortable, so he’s there. He would like to look at the iPad with you, thanks! And your bed is always his bed. He decides he wants to join you, and so he does.
He likes the television. We never watched it in our last house during the three and a half months when he lived there (we had canceled cable and moved to only watching DVDs or Hulu on our laptops), so when we turned it on in the new house, he was transfixed. He particularly was fascinated with basketball and ice skating.
Hamlet is afraid of shoes. I guess this just proves how uncivilized we are, or how rarely we leave the house, or perhaps how we never have anyone over. But, if we are wearing shoes, he would rather us not be walking towards him. He does not run away from our shod feet as quickly as he used to, but he is still wary and on alert when he hears the telltale sounds of footsteps. It doesn’t matter what kind or who’s wearing them.
For a long time, he burped whenever he was picked up, but I think he has completely stopped that now.
Every since he was little bitty, Hamlet has gathered his toys into piles. He is very organized about it.
Hamlet’s mother showed up with her kittens at a time when our household was already stressed and frustrated. I knew when I first saw them that if we tried to care for them that we would be committing time and energy I did not feel I had, and I was hesitant. I was not at all convinced that we should keep one. But now I am so glad we did. My husband once said, “Hamlet fixes something in my heart that was broken.” After I gave him a chance, he did the same for me.