Yeah, well! Over the last couple of years I have come to believe that young Austin, although definitely not "one of the group", has shown the ability and desire to bond with other cats (Tigger, to be precise) and the odd human (that would be me!). He also responds very well to some commands. I have tried to write a lot of humourous stuff about life with him and most of it is true, if sometimes skewed for effect! However, I have come to be very fond of this characterful feline and I believe that he has of me, too, in a narcissistic sort of way.
Some observations: Tigger is really the only other cat he actually likes having around; in fact it was Austin who brought him home one day and made the introductions. He even lets Tigger eat his food; this is amazing, as it doesn't appear to bother him at all. All he does is look on with detached amusement as the tabby stuffs his face in a prole-ish kind of way. When Tigger is not eating, they fight and chase each other around and then studiously ignore each other while they tidy themselves up and then proceed to sleep together very companionably in the summerhouse or conservatory. It's very clear though that Tigger is "Benny the Ball" to Austin's "Top Cat"! Any other cat (Big Ginge or one of his gang!) is summarily chased away with much snarling and yowling and fur flying.
Now about his relationship with mere humans! I know cats are supposed to be cunning and manipulative. But he's not really, despite the cute thing he does with his head! The way he goes about requesting juicy morsels of chicken or salmon from my plate is not at all disingenuous:
"Please can I have a tasty morsel of chicken or salmon from your plate?"
"No you can't."
And he goes off to vent his spleen on a bluebottle that's wandered in from the garden. Then he doesn't have to follow me around the house to make sure I'm nice and comfy, before curling up at (or on) my feet; he could chose any one of several beds he's got set up around the place. And for no reason at all he will stop in mid clean to jump on my lap, rub his head against mine and then jump down again to continue his ritual bath. He doesn't have to do this, but he does.
First thing in the morning it's generally my mother who's up at the crack of dawn to let him out, but it's me who mostly gets the lovey dovey treatment. Anyone else enters the room and he takes scant notice, but as soon as he hears me trudging up, he goes all coy, rolling on his back asking for his tummy to be tickled.*
He nearly always responds when I call his name - ok, it occasionally takes a little time if he's reached an interesting point in his dream, or he's several gardens away plotting retribution on one of the eleven spitting dogs; but I generally only have to say "uh-uh" once for him to stop doing what he shouldn't - unless of course he's got a mouse or bird and then all I see is his tail disappearing over the fence; OR if he's scratching the furniture - he's got a project on at the moment to dismantle the sofa thread by thread, until the arm falls off completely! I think he feels it's some kind of retro-therapy to help assuage the trauma of his early months, and of course it's marginally cheaper than a shrink! So, all things considered, I would say that Austin at the ripe old age of 2 years plus vat is happy and contented (on the whole) and has me exactly where he wants me - firmly under the claw!!
* Since writing this, he met my cousin for the first time and at a stroke (literally) he changed his allegiance. She reckons it's because we've got the same smell! Huh! I think he knows when he's on to a good thing. SHE's a Big Softie and HE always has an eye to the main chance. Anyway his bags are packed and he's ready to go. Such fickleness, after all I've done for him ! One thing I haven't told him though. She's got a dog - and it's a big one!