Our last rat friend passed away a couple of months ago and I haven't adopted another one because we so need to reduce our population here, but God do I miss them. It always makes me laugh when people are afraid of them because I know what that feels like and I know what it feels like to overcome that fear and wind up on the other side of it. Kind of like walking on that pile of glass at Burning Man, it's all in your mind. Rats are clean, smart, loyal, friendly, funny, curious, and affectionate. If they had fur on their tails they'd look like cats, they even sleep like them, all curled up into little balls of ratty love. You probably won't believe me unless you get the opportunity to know one. I think it must be similar to the way some people feel about cats and dogs until they fall in love with someone who has one and are kind of forced to really get to know one. I've known avowed cat haters who came around once they were forced to live with one. Of course they always start out thinking that it's just their cat who is special and deserving of love, it's all those other cats who are mean and scary, but eventually they're persuaded and come around completely.
Speaking of being afraid of dogs, Atra has this little Yorkie named Coco, who she babysits constantly and wishes were hers. I have bribed Coco into being my friend and everyone thinks it's SO AMAZING how much, "Coco loves Jacqui Joon." Meanwhile I'm thinking, "It's simple, all you have to do to make friends with a dog, is make a big fuss over them whenever you see them, and then bribe them with treats that they aren't supposed to be getting. It's kind of like being the nice Grandparent who gets to give the grandkids lots of toys that their parents don't give them too often." I think it's all about association, as in, "Oh there's that funny woman who always brings me toys and gives me snacks. I like snacks, maybe if I run on over to her she'll give me something."
Try that with someone's cat and see if he or she even deigns to look at you the next time you visit. With cats it takes more imagination, perseverance, and I think a bit of psychic communication, but as usual, I've strayed from my subject. So Coco hates Beau, probably because Beau is afraid of dogs, and dogs are super intelligent and have this amazing olfactory ability to sniff out fear. Poor Beau came by Atra's today to ask me for the keys to the car so he could get his backpack out of it, and Coco went crazy, tiny little Coco, barking like this fierce maddog. Then when Beau bent over to kiss Atra's sister Maryam, Coco jumped up onto Maryam's lap and bit Beau on his hand. Poor Beau.
Oh and the coolest thing happened to me today; Kai iki, the one cat who has been treating me like dirt for years, who really seems to dislike me, and breaks my heart on a regular basis, because he spurns all of my advances, won't let me touch him, goes out of his way to avoid me, and looks exactly like my favorite cat of all time, Mirau, which is why we adopted him in the first place, suddenly changed his mind and was sleeping right beside me on my pillow when I woke up this morning. I don't even know how he got in here because we keep the door shut and he refuses to come in. I opened my eyes, saw him looking intently at me, was so confused that I thought I was still dreaming, and then I watched as he slowly raised a paw...touched my face with it, and gave me a squeezy-eye cat smile. I nearly screamed because I thought, "Oh Shit! Kai iki? He hates me! Oh God, here it comes, he's going to smack my face." And if that wasn't weird enough, he came back into my room tonight and is sitting here right now, cuddled up against my right thigh. He keeps looking up and checking to see what I'm doing. I can't explain it, I can't explain it at all. I've never done anything but love him and he's always acted as if he hated me. How could it take three years for a cat to make up his mind about someone? Whatever it is, I like it, and I'm so happy. I feel like I've just won some kind of marathon.