Claire dislikes people in general. You can see the look on her face as she tolerates them. Too many hugs, or get too much into her personal space, and she’ll get up and leave. She could not care less if it hurts your feelings. She’s almost the exact opposite of her brother, Nathan, who given a moment to think about it, has a great love and affection for every person he meets. Claire is a bit unfriendly. She keeps me up at night. She rarely purrs, and when she does, it never more than a few seconds, like a smile from an old grouch that slips out. And yet, my day would be empty without her.
Claire has long, sharp claws, and she has proven that she’s not afraid to use them against the girls. Since they like to make up little beds in little hideaways around the house for her, she will spend time with them.
If you pick her up, she tenses and jumps away as soon as possible, unless you prop your hand under her back feet and let her dig lightly into your shoulder with her front feet, giving her a sense of control. The girls carry her on her back, like a baby doll, but you can see the panic in her eyes. On the other hand, Nathan can be draped around your shoulders like a scarf as he stares back at you with sleepy eyes. He dozes on shoulders, chest, lap, or anywhere in between, as long as he gets attention. Claire reminds me of myself wanting a warm blanket and to be left alone in peace.
In the night, a warm figure will appear against the bottom of my feet. If I get hot and push her away, she eases back into place. If I try to pull her up closer to my belly where I can pet her, she will stiffly tolerate it before retiring to the back of my knees, out of reach. I have woken many nights on the precarious edge of the bed after slowly inching away from this ball of heat while she claims the center of my side of the bed. If my husband pulls her to him, she blinks at him as if unsure of the reason for his existence before returning to her self-proclaimed spot at my feet.
In the morning, when I get up and pad to the bathroom, I have learned to leave the door partially open. If I don’t, Claire will meow and scratch at the door until I let her in. Even then, she will sit on the edge of the tub and give a long list of meows, pausing to let me respond. I can only guess that she complains about my movements in the night or sharing some kitty dream. The girls shake their heads and call me weird for having these little conversations with her.
When we move from the bathroom to head down the hall to the living room and kitchen, Claire does not like to walk behind me or beside me. Instead, she lets me get a little bit ahead, and then she races in a full-out horse-hoof clattering pelt to get in front of me, and then she slows down to a snobbish saunter. My husband says he can tell when I am leaving the bathroom just by listening to the sound of Claire’s feet on the hardwood.
Claire feeds herself from the bowl in the kitchen, visits the litter box in the laundry room, and then she sits and waits as I take care of everyone else. She will ignore the dog, who, respectful of her claws, returns the favor. She may hiss at Nathan or the other two half-grown tom cats if they look too long in her direction. Then, at long last, as I head to my home office in the corner of the house, she again runs in front of me to reach the door first so she can stroll into the room as if she owns it. As I start up my computer, Claire picks out her first spot of the day, where she will hang out until lunch. After lunch, we repeat the ritual as we move from room to room until it is finally bedtime again.
My youngest daughter claims that Claire is her cat because she picked her out, but I teasingly like to point out that she is my cat because Claire picked me.