Juniper…I have to say, I love this cat. It feels a little silly to admit, even to myself, how attached I am to her…but I would be truly devastated if something happened to her. Since this post, she and I have reached a much better understanding–probably due in part to the fact that she is out of the kitty teenage stage. When my husband was re-located to New York, she made the 10-day cross-country trip with us from Texas, and then stayed with my parents for several weeks while we house-hunted–all in all, no small feat for such a territorial animal as a cat. Sometimes, on the road, when we had arrived at yet another hotel, she would pop out of her carrier, slowly look around the new room, and then look up at me. “You’re still here, right?” she seemed to ask. “Then I guess it will be okay.”
The feeling is mutual.
Meet Juniper. She came to us one chilly morning in early January, cold and damp from being out all night in one of the desert’s rare snow showers. Her left eye was clearly infected, black and hugely swollen. We took her in, and finding no evidence of an owner, adopted her and got her eye fixed up.
Juniper’s first day with us. You can see how bad her infected eye was.
The name “Juniper” was Shaun’s idea. You know you are homesick for trees when you start naming your pets for them…but it fits her. It took a while for all of us to figure each other out. Though I love cats, I hadn’t grown up with them, which meant that I underwent a crash course in Cat Psychology 101. Even though I knew that cats, unlike dogs, feel no obligation to please the people they live with, it was hard to remember that when I found Juniper on the kitchen table for the umpteenth time. To make it more difficult, Juniper was stubborn and strong-willed (okay, what cat isn’t?), mischievous, and openly defiant. This may not have been all her fault, as she was on the cusp of being a teenager (in human years) when she found us.
Juniper bounced right back after having her eye removed and being spayed at the same time. I wish I had her resiliency. She did hate her “party hat” though!
She was very sensitive about being touched, and unless you caught her in just the right mood, would snap or claw at your hand if you tried petting her or picked her up. She also had the bad habit of tackling or clawing hands and feet in very rough play. Whomever had kept her before us had clearly not done us any favors in the socialization and discipline departments. She had certainly been someone’s pet–she was comfortable in a home, not shy or seriously aggressive, and she had been well-fed. However, the fact that Juniper came to us at 10 months old, unspayed, under-handled and with an bad eye infection seems to me to point to some degree of neglect. This is a shame on the part of her former home, because with some discipline and TLC she has turned into a really wonderful pet. From day one she has slept on our bed at night, usually on top of or snuggled next to me. Sometimes she will groom my hands, and she runs to the door to greet Shaun when he comes home from work. She mostly tolerates being petted now (we’re still working on it, and on being picked up), and we’ve discovered that she will melt when you scratch under her chin. She’s funny and playful, and will perk up and make her “happy noises” (a rolling trill) at the sound of one of her jingle balls. She is adorable and soft, and has made me feel so much more at home here. Having a living creature to come home to and talk to has improved my spirits greatly. I may not love it here in the desert, but it has given me a few very good things.
Juniper sometimes likes to curl up on the shoe rack next to Shaun’s Army boots.
She needed a few tissues….
Juniper and her new little sister, Ginger.