When Riley was born I was continually worried that Morgan (the cat) would smother her. It didn’t help that Morgan likes to sleep on or near peoples heads. She’s weird like that. It was very helpful then, that when Riley was a newborn blob, Morgan failed to identify her as an actual person. Although she did seem to like her smell and would take any opportunity to sleep on her clothing.
It was somewhat of a shock to Morgan when she realised that the pleasant smelling blob was actually alive. And more than a few accusatory glances were thrown my way.But Morgan was soothed by the knowledge that although the blob was alive, she was incapable of actually moving. As Riley has moved through the milestones of rolling, commando crawling, actual crawling, walking and running, Morgan has managed to adapt despite her initial panic and more accusatory stares were directed at myself.
Riley is now big enough, strong enough and mobile enough that I’m no longer worried about her, I’m concerned about my poor cat. Yesterday I caught Riley attempting to stomp on Morgan with her shoes, and although her pats might start off gentle enough they soon escalate to hitting and tail pulling. I think she’s spoiled by the fact that Morgan is extremely passive and rarely reacts to these sudden displays of violence. Or perhaps Morgan is beguiled by Riley’s ritual of giving her eskimo kisses in bed in the morning.
I’ve heard that children don’t really fully develop empathy until they are five or six, so I suppose I have many years of this ahead of me. But I also don’t think I can really fathom the intricacies of their relationship, particularly in it’s current non-verbal incarnation. Morgan becomes extremely distressed whenever Riley is upset and will attempt to tickle her in order to distract her from whatever is bugging her. And the only books that Riley really enjoys are the ones with cats in them.
Morgan is 16 years old. I hope she lives long enough for Riley to remember what good friends they were.