Loki’s Story

It’s hard to know what to say about Loki. He’s named for the Norse god of mischief, and it has turned out to be an extremely appropriate name. He’s pure curiosity, energy, stubbornness, intelligence, and sensitivity.

I wasn’t expecting him. Less than 12 hours before I brought him home, way back in the early autumn of 1995, I got a call from my mother that one of my brother’s friends had brought home two kittens that her parents wouldn’t let her keep; would I like a little tortiegirl to be company for Nermal? I said yes. Later that night, my mom called to tell me my kitten was at her place, and I could come right away or wait until morning. I made my roommate get up and walk there with me, since it was a bit late; he was very good about being hauled outside. What I saw at my mom’s, peeking out at me from under a folded-out sofa-bed, wasn’t a tortoiseshell. It was a tiny pink nose that belonged to a tabby and white body. And the forepaws attached to that body were the biggest I’d ever seen: two extra toes on each, not just one, positioned very much like thumbs.

We discovered, fairly quickly, that he was endlessly inquisitive about absolutely everything we did and everything he could reach. He loved being up on top of the cupboards in our high-ceilinged apartment, and he was on the counter constantly–we gave up on trying to keep him off except when we were actually preparing food. We nicknamed him “Nermal’s henchcat” because it looked a lot like Nermal was sending Loki up to check out what was on the counter and throw down anything good. And he’s highly talented at throwing things off surfaces! To get my attention, he still tosses things off my desk, my shelves, anywhere he can reach.

I set up a reading lamp on my bed for him, because he seemed to be cold a lot, or maybe I was just overprotective. I put an old pillow, worn rather flat, under it, and covered that with a baby blanket my mom had kept. When he wasn’t sleeping snuggled against my tummy or the backs of my knees (when I was on my side), under my chin (on my stomach), or between my knees (on my back), he slept there. The lamp and pillow have been replaced a number of times since, but he still sleeps in the same spots today. I’ve learned not to move much in my sleep, and if I need to, I wake up halfway so I can maneuver around him. Thanks to him, I learned to type one-handed faster than many people with two, because he loves lying in the curve of my left arm with his head on my shoulder, like a human baby.

Loki has been rescued from behind a furnace once, up trees at least twice and the ivy up the side of a building once, off unstable surfaces (for example, shaky piles of boxes soon before moving) more often than I can count, retrieved from sneaking outside a handful of times (he’s so fast that even I can’t always see him), and fished out of the bathtub frequently although not recently. When he was very small, one evening after the stove was turned off and the kitchen was empty, he jumped on top of it and one pad came up against the edge of one element; I’m extremely grateful that it wasn’t worse than it was. Maybe a year later, he jumped for the top of my dresser, missed, and got a rear toe snagged in the handle as he fell; with him yowling in pain and flailing wildly, I automatically grabbed him and got him free, which was rather complicated by him scrambling frantically for his usual safe perch on my shoulder. A friend called him “The Blender” for weeks afterwards, when he saw the scratches on my hands and lower arms.

His favourite place to be is on my right shoulder; as he’s grown larger, I’ve had to start to lift my right arm for him to brace his forepaws on, but he rarely scratches me anymore. When I have a shower, he waits in the bathroom, and as soon as I have a towel around my shoulders, up he goes. A couple of times, he’s jumped when I wasn’t ready for him, which didn’t have good results for either of us; he’s actually learned what “Wait” means. He climbs up there at other times, too. He doesn’t like being held, but he’s quite happy to sit there. A very few other people that he knows well he’ll sit on, but mostly, he’s very much my baby.

So much so that he cries constantly if I’m away overnight; he gets extremely stressed if I go through a period when I have to be out long hours for a few days. As long as I’m there for him to snuggle against overnight, though, he gets through it okay. These days, Sean is home with him all day since he can’t work, and that seems to help quite a lot.

He’s a clever kitty, too. He fishes treats right out of the container. He opens cupboard doors.He does his best to open doorknobs, and can’t only because he can’t get a grip even with those huge mitts of his. He tried a couple of times to get outside by hiding himself in my basket of laundry while I was getting the detergent. He woke me up once when I dozed off in the bathtub, and he did it right away–the water was still comfortably warm when he started swatting me and crying. When he decides to make a try at escaping, he lurks near the door but sits there calmly washing himself or facing the other direction, as through he doesn’t care at all that someone is about to open the door. But the instant that door opens, ZOOOM, he’s out it, unless whatever hapless human opened it is ready for him and has fast reflexes. Luckily, he never goes far, and he yells the whole time he’s out so he’s easy to track, but it’s heart-stopping whenever he does it. We now live in an apartment building where he’d have to go through multiple doors to reach the great outdoors, which is a relief, but he still escapes into the hall regularly.

He used to have Sid as a companion, who now lives with my mom (his choice, essentially–while we shared a house for a while, he bonded quite strongly to her). His relationship with Sid was good, but Sid tended to assume Loki had real mayhem in mind when Loki jumped on him. Trick, on the other hand, just can’t get enough of wrestling with Loki, even if he’s generally on the bottom getting thumped around; when they aren’t wrestling, Loki will allow Trick to wash his ears and face for him, or allow him to sleep much closer than he’s tolerated any cat since Nermal. Angel isn’t intimidated by Loki at all, and will with no hesitation knock him right off his feet with one powerful swat at his hindquarters; he enjoys the chase, although he’s not as close to her as to Trick. Trick, especially, has turned out to be amazingly good at keeping Loki active and interested.

Life is never, ever boring with Loki around, watching everything I do, frequently trying to get involved in whatever it might be, eying the door, jumping on top of doors, cramming himself into every space he can fit in and some he can’t, snuggling on top of me at every chance, walking in front of the computer monitor, sitting in the window making chittering vocalizations at the birds with his ears out flat and his tail lashing…. I might not have been expecting him, but I can’t imagine life without him anymore.

Update:

In late May 2010, less than 5 months after I wrote this, we took Loki to the vet because he was having difficulty breathing, beyond anything his asthma meds could help. The vet put him in an oxygen cage, and took some X-rays. His chest was filled with fluid, and there was only a small chance that surgery to drain it could even buy time. So we made that terrible decision that loving our pets brings us to: we chose to set him free from a failing body. Even in the few minutes we spent with him before it, with him out of his oxygen cage, he began to have trouble breathing again. With Sean and I both there petting him, he very gently crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He left behind a gaping hole in our lives, and my gratitude that I had 14 years with him.

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