Thursday, July 14, 2016

"A cat has no food. A man must feed a cat."

When my lovely partner Karli moved in with me just over a year ago, she brought with her Cooper the cat, an elderly white Persian whose grim visage belied his warm and affectionate nature.  I was quite pleased to have Cooper as part of our little family - I had been without a feline roommate for several years, and Cooper and I bonded quickly and easily.  

Sadly, Time has its way with everyone, and about six weeks ago Cooper made his final visit to the veterinarian. It was a heartbreaking time for both Karli and I;  Karli in particular feeling more than a little depressed by the loss of her confidant and companion for over 18 years.

Because of Cooper's importance to both of us, we quickly became aware of the cat-shaped hole in our lives. Karli began looking at cats online, and we paid a couple of visits to the Vancouver SPCA CatfĂ©, but we just weren't finding the right cat for us.  We knew we couldn't replace anyone as special and unique as Cooper, but we hoped to find a cat who would make his own place in our hearts.

Karli persevered in her online search, which led us to the Richmond SPCA at the end of June to meet a congenial six-year-old orange and white tabby.*  He had been brought in as a stray, and then taken by a family who had just returned him to the SPCA after a year of ownership, citing litter tray usage problems. In spite of this dubious entry on his resume, we decided that we would adopt the little guy, and returned to pick him up two days later (two days rather than one due to the branch's Canada Day closure.)

He was introduced to us as Oliver, and his previous name was Pumpkin, but somehow we didn't find either of those names to be a fit.  We made a list of possible names, debated them at length, but nothing really seemed to be working for us.

During one of our discussions, I referred to "the cat without a name".  Karli gave me a significant sideways look and quietly said, "A cat has no name."


Thanks to this well-timed misquotation from George R. R. Martin, I'm happy to introduce our new cat, known to the world as Jack, but whose full name is actually Jaqen H'ghar, named after the enigmatic face-changing third-person Braavosi assassin from Game of Thrones. In the books, Jaqen disappears after aiding Arya Stark, but the HBO adaptation offers him a larger role as a servant of the Many-Faced God in the House of Black and White.**

Jack (or Jaq) is a friendly, affectionate fellow who is well on his way to settling in with us (and hopefully getting used to his new name, not that cats care very much about that sort of thing.)

"If a girl should need a cat, a girl should roll this across a hardwood floor.
A cat will come if such a thing is done."

And his name - his full name, that is - makes perfect sense.  Cats are solidly behind the Braavosi philosophy of valar dohaeris: all men must serve.***

- Sid

* Looking for a cat?  Kittens are very cute, but consider getting an adult cat who has already learned the ins and outs of kitty litter and food dishes. Adult cats are also more likely to sleep on the bed with you rather than maniacally wrestle their own tail on your pillow at 3:00 AM.  (At least with any luck they are.)

** You may follow the theory that the man at the temple in Braavos is only wearing the face of Jaqen H'ghar. Personally, I prefer the way in which it streamlines the narrative if it's the same person, but to each their own.

*** Women too.  Cats are completely without sexism when it comes to service.

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