EVER SINCE WE MET [mumble]-ty-odd years ago, Toni has always had a Best Boy cat. When we first met, it was the bunny-furred Russian blue, Lester Pedunk. Then, when Lester lost a game of chicken with a car on the Parkway, there came Jake, whose name came from the way he settled into Casa d’Alger: instantly, with great vim. Everything was just jake with him, see. And now, it’s Oliver: the cat most likely to be in the middle of a catpile.

Oliver is the all-white one with the grin like a Japanese Bobtail in an anime. The other one is Aqua.

Oliver is the friendliest guy you’d ever meet. But he’s also the Omega male of our little herd of cats. Belle, the eldest, and in the running to be typecast as basement cat (not that she’s evil — far from it — she’s just very … definite) used to whale on him at mealtimes. She’d ram him with a shoulder or haul off and swat him, knock him into the kitchen cabinets so hard the doors rattled. I imagined it was because she found his squeaky, whiney little myieu as annoying as I did.

But that might have been projection.

Now, he’s grown up a bit and the pitch of his voice has dropped a little and he doesn’t whine quite so much, and it’s actually endearing when he does figure eights on the floor in front of the couch, demanding to be petted.

His favorite hangouts are the bed and the cat tree.

And, lately, as Toni’s been on away gigs quite a bit, he’s taken to walking up to me as I’m drifting off to a nap or to sleep for the night, and demanding I pet him, and nipping at my fingers until I do. Friday afternoon, he even supplanted Loki in the same maneuver. The Lokester hung out down-bed from the action and looked hurt or maybe just jealous.

When the triplets (Aqua, Sky, and Jazz) were new, he sort of acted like a foster mother or a babysitter. Even now, they pile up with him more than anyone besides each other. As Toni puts it, he’s very good with the kids.

Their new favorite stunt is to get into the utility closet — filled with all sorts of things dangerous to kittehs. Just now, I heard through the cold air return duct something rattling around in that closet. I went downstairs to find Jazz peeking out all innocent and shit, and Aqua and Sky back deep in the piles o’ stuff. Chased them out and tried to block the door with the dehumidifier. Damned doors weigh a ton (real wood louvered sliding doors). Dunno how those tiny little critters can move the things. Have to figure out a way to catproof them that doesn’t make it impossible for people. Sheesh!

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