My first dedicated companion out of college was a cat named Ollz. I adopted him from a shelter I was volunteering at, originally falling in love with his cross-eyed look-alike brother, but getting him instead, the only one left in the litter.
He was all black and quite pretty. As a young 20 something living on my own for the first time and suddenly having a living thing in my care, I fretted over him. When he blinked too often, I worried his eye would explode. When he ate too much, I worried about his diet. I fussed and hovered. He looked off into the distance and walked away.
Ollz had marked me as his person. He hid from everyone else. He was not the friendly cat who wooed visitors because visitors didn’t know he existed. But he was endlessly affectionate with me, and still the best cuddler I know, the little spoon.
Sadly, for reasons still unknown to me, he developed some behavioral problems early in his little kitty life. He loved sneaking into my roommate’s bedroom and peeing on her very expensive designer duvet. In an old house with broken doors, he would manage to get into the room just long enough to do the job before guiltily running away. This happened often. The duvet. Rinse and repeat.
After two years of these adventures, I moved into my own apartment in an effort to find independence and to save other people’s belongings from the prolonged and ever-present smell of cat pee. He stayed in his kitty carrier for two weeks in protest of the change, but once he emerged into the brand new small one bedroom apartment downtown, all was well. We had a (very small) space for ourselves. Two peas in a pod. He was always there because he couldn’t leave. My warm soft cuddle buddy in my first apartment on my own.
Things only went sour again when we went from being two peas in a pod to three. It was getting serious with a new man in my life; my boyfriend (now husband) had moved to America, and started spending weekends visiting from NYC.
Ollz did not approve of this. He’d glower and mope, sad that his spot on the bed was taken and my attention was no longer his own.
In protest, Ollz found that intruder’s pajamas pants in the living room one evening, nicely folded and delicately placed on the couch, and peed all over them. Goodbye cruel thief, he must have thought.
I looked at my boyfriend and shrugged. It was to be expected, I explained.
Ollz was my protective (and sometimes misguided) best friend in those years. We grew up together. He was there when I was fearful of a loud sound at night, or feeling tired from a long day at my out-of-college job ordering other people lunch. He taught me what loyalty meant. And he taught me what a poorly behaved young male can do when dissatisfied with the world or simply because he feels like it: mysteriously pee on things he doesn’t like. These lessons I hold onto still to this day.