My sister, Jackie, has a cat. He’s a lanky fellow, got some gray and some brown blobs of color interspersed with white fur, a sharp triangular face. Like most cats I’ve been around, he’s skittish of people he isn’t accustomed to being in his space.
You’d not know he was there except for the food and water dishes, or if you happen to be visiting near the usual time when Jackie feeds her cats. That’s when he and his siblings will come slinking into the open spaces to stare at Jackie until she performs the duties for which the cats employ her. Strangers, be darned. When a cat’s hungry, he’s gotta eat, no matter who’s there.
I had several cats in the past, until they all passed over the Rainbow Bridge after living good, long lives — Junior, my black and white spotted cat, lived to be 17 even with having diabetes and daily insulin shots for the last few of his years — so I know how all that works. It didn’t matter what I was doing. At the time for supper, I’d feel those eyes, staring, unblinking, telepathically communicating that my services were required.
It was rather unnerving when I’d lose track of time and look up to see the contingent with eyes fixed firmly on me, but at other times, I’d pretend to ignore them to see what they’d do. They’d form a semicircle to stare at me, and if I did not respond, they’d inch closer and closer until one or more would leap square in the middle of whatever I happened to be engaged in.
But, back to Jackie’s cat: The first time I saw him, I didn’t know his name. When we made eye contact, though, the name “Floyd” popped into my head. I have no idea why. He just looks like a Floyd to me, I guess. So that’s what I started calling him.
I told Jackie that’s his name. She looked at me like I was nuts and said, “No, his name is Sampson.”
“No, it’s Floyd,” I assured her.
Jackie just shook her head.
“It’s Sampson,” she said firmly.
“No, it’s Floyd,” I repeated, just as firmly. “You might call him Sampson, but his name is really Floyd. That’s what he told me. He just humors you and lets you call him Sampson. Maybe he had another owner who named him Floyd.”
Jackie explained that she’s had him since he was a tiny kitten, and his name has always been Sampson.
Well, that may be true, but that cat is still Floyd.
To prove my point, I experimented the next time he sauntered toward the kitchen, craning his neck around the corner to see if the stranger was still there. Satisfied that I wasn’t going to be a threat, he leaned down to take a bite of food left in one of the dishes, making sure to rattle it to let Jackie know it was time to refill it. When he was engrossed in that task and had dismissed me from his attention, I whispered to Jackie, “Watch this.”
“Hey, Floyd,” I said. The cat immediately looked up.
“See, his name really is Floyd,” I told Jackie, just a bit smugly.
She shook her head again. “It is not Floyd.”
Floyd had gone back to the food dish and was paying no mind to us as we chatted about other things. So, I experimented again. In the middle of the conversation with Jackie, I said again, “Hey, Floyd.” He looked up the second time.
“Aha! That proves it! His name IS Floyd!”
Jackie still isn’t convinced.
I reckon if she wants to call her cat by the wrong name, it’s OK by me if it’s OK by Floyd.