Meet Tucker, the cuddliest monkey ever.
Mr. Tucker has been part of our family for several years. But, like many of our animals, he had an entire life before this one, a life that remains a mystery.
One thing is sure, though: Somewhere in the past, he experienced a head trauma that changed his brain forever. (It also cost him most of his teeth, poor guy.)
Perhaps because of this, Tucker now does odd, odd things. Such as…
Several times a day (but not much at night), Tucker sings huge, yowling songs.
When I hear him, I rush to his side, breathless. But he just looks at me, blinks, and starts grooming. Or he asks for a snack.
Each time he sings, I check in with him intuitively, just by getting quiet and opening myself to his feelings. (That’s animal communication in a nutshell, by the way.)
Sometimes, I feel into his frustration. Sometimes, I feel his loneliness, like he can’t find his people. Other times, I feel his celebration: he just ate a treat, or had a cuddle, and life is good.
Still more often, he’s simply singing because he is part of the song of life, the way that our cat Shnoodle sings to the storm.
His old vet said all this singing was fine. “He’s an old guy,” she said. “They just sing sometimes. We don’t really know why.”
Between her opinion and my intuitive impressions, I think everything is okay.
Clockwork Cuddling (complete with head smack)
Tucker sleeps through the night between me and my husband. But the moment I wake up in the morning, Tucker stirs and crawls toward me.
Still lying down, I lift my arm. Tucker wriggles up to my shoulder. Half-asleep, he snuggles into my side, resting his chin on my shoulder, his head against my cheek.
I wrap my arm around him as he purrs, and we both fall back into a light sleep together.
Every few moments, he looks up – mid-purr, mid-drool – and slams his head against my face in ecstasy. (He’s nearly given me black eyes.)
This cuddle happens every morning. Every morning. Like clockwork.
If for some reason, I don’t want a kitty cuddle (such as cuddle-induced shoulder pain, which has happened more than once), he climbs any available part of my body, force-snuggling until I give in.
Barreling Toward Danger (no matter who growls)
When Tucker feels threatened, he rushes toward danger, not to confront it or to fight it, but to get away. Yes, to run away from danger he runs toward it. (I believe he thinks he can run around it, but that doesn’t always work out in his favor.)
Our sweet golden retriever, Daisy, has developed a decidedly unsweet side when it comes to Tucker. Because his behavior is erratic, because he runs toward her when she’s upset, Daisy has determined that Tucker’s very presence is growl-worthy.
Daisy growls when Tucker enters a room. She growls when he comes close to her. She growls and lifts her head when he’s a few inches away, and flashes out all sorts of canine “go away” signals.
But does Tucker listen? No, he does not. He just barrels forward.
Sometimes my husband and I have to insert our bodies in front of him to divert his course. This is the only thing that will alter his path. When he changes direction, he blinks, confused for a moment, but then settles into his new reality.
Within minutes, Tucker seems to have forgotten everything that occurred, from growl to diversion. We call him the Five-Minute Old Cat, because he seems to live five minutes at a time, cheerfully forgetting the thousands of five-minute blocks that form his history.
Yard-Induced Feral Cathood
The oddest thing that Tucker does, though, involves the great outdoors. When he steps out from under our roof, he changes.
He becomes something other than the cuddliest monkey ever. He becomes a feral being, distrusting and wary, stalking through the grass and moss. He hunkers beneath the rhododendrons. He slips, unseen, between the ferns and the firs, and he is no more.
Needless to say, Tucker is only allowed outdoors in very controlled situations.
Our backyard is fenced. Tuck’s hindquarters have undergone some trauma of their own (one vet postulated a horse kick) and he’s not able to jump more than a foot or two. A low fence keeps him corralled.
So Tucker is allowed to stalk, slink, and slither his way through the backyard to his heart’s content. This gives him freedom beneath the great open sky. It gives him the chance to sprawl belly-to-earth, the posture I think cats were made for.
It also gives him a chance to sing for his public.
When Tucker sings outdoors, his voice rises to a fever pitch unparalleled during indoor performances. He screams and he shrieks. He screeches and cries. Neighbors rush over in panic, adrenaline sloshing through their veins.
Then Tucker appears from beneath a fuchsia bush, wide-eyed and purring, and we all feel sheepish with relief.
Tucker is a mystery. We don’t know his origin story. We don’t know what hurt him, or how. We don’t know what made him the cuddliest monkey that ever did exist.
It’s strange that we don’t know, or can’t tell.
Here I am, an animal communicator, able to receive images, impressions, and even words from animals, able to hear stories from animals I’ve never met before — but from Tucker I receive mostly silence.
Maybe this is just who he is, how he is made, and how he has become. And maybe I don’t need his stories. Really, I only need him. I am cat-dependent, and he is one of my furriest addictions.