BEDTIMES are best. At midday, all four puppies and three cats are sleeping in the outdoor kitchen. For the first time in 24 hours, our home is sane.
Though the husband made a shed for the K-zoo, this tiny kitchen is the paws-down favorite for R&R. Cool tiles, shade, and access from the garden must be the attractions in these hot times, with summer, coronavirus disease (Covid-19), and enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) showing no let-up.
A zoo, a godson calls the K-company. K stands for “kinit-an (abandoned),” with the cats walking in from unknown streets and a basin of puppies waiting to be lifted off the street.
K also stands for “kauban (companion),” which I prefer over “pet.” The latter means affection bestowed on the other, a backhanded way of social distancing.
Traced to the Old French “compaignon”— meaning “one who breaks bread with another”—a kauban involves an exchange of choices: to approach, to adjust, to stay perhaps.
Kitkat, purring louder than seemingly possible from such a small frame, appeared while I was washing plates. Feral veterans often slip in when there is no human around. Kitkat wanted to feed but she did not want to steal. After a few more meals, she returned with two kittens, then with her tomcat of the moment.
When Kitkat is in heat, several toms hang around. Perhaps misnamed, Big Tom is not a Romeo or a Kitkat groupie. He is an old gentleman with a luxuriant but bedraggled marmalade coat and a touching weakness for strokes and chin-rubs.
A slim princeling, Tigr, from Kitkat’s first kindle, tolerates Big Tom but keeps his distance from the K-pups. Cats greet each other by touching and sniffing noses. No such delicacy for the savage K-pups, who chomp on tails and sniff butts, imperial or not.
Unexpectedly, it is Big Tom who submits, even grudgingly, to the puppies’ eternally optimistic view that even for those who are locked down and forced to live together against their will, the sum of what we have in common is greater than the difference remaining from our idiosyncrasies and divergences.
Midday finds Tigr napping on the highest shelf, hidden except for pink paw pads hanging over the edge. Heavy with her latest kindle, Kitkat looks down from the counter on the barbarians sprawled on the floor.
Napping in the middle of this circle of yipyipping puppy dreams and hedonistic limb-stretching is Big Tom. The indignity of being assaulted by a butt-sniffing juvenile or the substitution of his tail for a chewtoy merits only the lazy swatting of a paw minus drawn claws.
In the age of incivility, Buddha is a patriarch sleeping with the enemy.