Cricket had a crush on the male cat down the street a few years ago. He would stand on his corner, and she would pull on her leash trying to reach him, and in response he’d do a long, slow, stretch next to the fire hydrant. Sometimes he’d stretch out in the middle of the road and roll on his back to scratch against the pebbles, while she watched from the sidewalk, stuck with me on her leash.
I had never really noticed the cat until Cricket noticed him. He was black and white and grey and his belly was too big for him. His day was filled with rambles from house to house, looking for food or adventure. He was in no hurry, though he could run when he had to, like when the mourning doves suddenly dive bombed at him one day for reasons known only to them. He was basically the same size as Cricket, small for a dog, but big for a cat. Sometimes, I’d see him standing on his front porch, waiting for someone to open the door, but then I’d look again and it was really the cat statue my neighbors keep on their porch.
I don’t know what Cricket would do if the cat actually accepted her attentions. He used to let her sniff his butt as he walked slowly across the street. He wasn’t interested in her butt, though. Do cats sniff butts the way dogs do?
I admire his nonchalance. I admire the way he seems to feel so comfortable in his skin, so unrushed in his life. He visits with people and doesn’t worry about being rejected.
It’s odd how much Cricket likes cats, when she can be so standoffish with other dogs, or frightened by them. It is almost impossible for Cricket to like a dog who likes her. The other dog’s interest and affection seems like aggression to her. She reads enthusiasm as attack.
One night, when Cricket was out on her walk, she saw the cat a hundred feet ahead of her, standing on the sidewalk in front of his house. He saw her, too, and instead of turning away, he ran straight towards her, but then right at the end, he veered off and jumped up onto a neighbor’s lawn.
I don’t know if he meant to come to her and got scared off at the last moment, or if he meant to taunt her, or to run past her but misjudged how close he got.
I felt so hurt for her, for this unrequited love, this come-here-go-away cat. I wanted her to be the princess at the ball, loved by the cat of her choice. I was absolutely over identifying with my dog.
Even now, when she sees the cat stretched out on his lawn, she pulls to get across the street to him. He lazes on his back, like a cat centerfold, and looks away.