The Kids provide endless entertainment and companionship. Unfortunately, being cats, they don’t always provide the best photographic opportunities. I can’t tell them to sit and stay while I setup a prime shot. I can’t let them run about the yard while I capture some magic moments. In truth, they keep me on my toes when it comes to photographing them.
When we’re playing, it’s near impossible to snap photos while keeping them engaged. I try, though. What I wind up with most often are pictures of empty spaces, unrecognizable blurs, my own feet or hands, a wall or the ceiling, furniture, and anything else except cats. Such is the curse of holding a toy with one hand as I hold the camera out and snap photos with the other.
When they’re playing on their own, I can sometimes get up and grab the camera for some snapshots. Usually, however, they react to my movement by stopping what they’re doing and running to me for attention or a bit of personal play. I try to keep the camera nearby for such moments, but that’s not always possible (busy doing chores or eating dinner are two examples that come to mind).
There is only one time when taking photos is simple: when they’re still (sleeping, grooming, etc.).
The next best opportunity is quality time.
Quality time for us happens as often as possible. It’s nothing more complicated than me sitting or lying on the floor. It draws them in like flies to honey.
We play. We show love toward each other. We focus on the pleasure of just being with one another.
But that represents another challenge. It’s our quality time; I’m focused on them and they’re focused on me, so photography is nothing more than a byproduct when possible.
That there are seven of them also means my hands are full with making sure each of them receives their due affection.
Nevertheless, I find the happenstance photos from such moments often capture the wild spirits and loving souls that swim within each of these fur persons.
Kazon. What can I say? He’s my baby. When he realizes I’m occupying him surreptitiously in hopes of getting a picture worth the effort, he stops and looks at me with the adoration of a child. He needs his love, his affection. And he is a child, a big tomcat in stature with the mind of a juvenile who is always needy, always demanding of personal attention.
Kako. As independent as she is wanting of Daddy’s time, she proffers a mix of disdain and greed. Sometimes I can’t get her off my shoulders long enough to breath; other times she smacks me around and lets me know I’m invading her personal space. I love the bitch that dwells within this feline. She is both distant and close all at once, a dichotomy that defines the spirit of all cats.
Larenti. He is fear made flesh. I always knew he was abused, for his fear of hands and sudden movements makes this clear. Yet as much as he wants to engage the other felines, he fears them as much as he fears humans. A bit of play quickly turns to panic, and a moment on my lap in purring contentment becomes fleeing apprehension when one of the other kids joins us and gets too close, rests against him, gets too near his personal space. Ah, but he loves his time with me as much as he loves the rest of The Kids. For a young cat, he still has time to realize the potential of the life I’ve given him.
Vazra. He lives up to his name. Simultaneously amiable and demanding, he is a true king of felines. He demands things go his way, he demands no one else do what he does, and he demands everyone acquiesce to his needs and wants. His physical presence, as beautiful as it is, represents a mere shadow of his personality, a big and bold being who loves with the utmost compassion as much as he expects me to answer his every demand. He’s a mirror of my own soul…
al-Zill. The neurological damage he suffered before I rescued him ensures he’s a special case in the xenogere homestead. Affectionate with a purr that can shake dishes off the table, he’s also a child at heart who remains at odds with the disconnect between his brain and his body. But how he loves the other cats! As much as he loves me, I might add. Watching him lie with Grendel as he grooms his older stepbrother warms my heart as much as it does when he pushes his way under the covers at night, when he races to claim my lap, when he follows me everywhere while continually rubbing against me, and when he gives me kisses—sometimes incessantly to the point of pain.
Grendel. A lifetime of ailments continues to take a toll on this alpha male. He is Sponge, the cat who can never get enough petting, who can never spend enough time with me (although Kazon gives him a run for his money in that regard). And while Grendel remains the chief of the watch, I myself lament seeing him weaken, seeing the tremors that plague him all the time now, seeing a great predator reduced to wisps of what once was. He looks at me with frustration in this photo because I wanted him to pause long enough for a picture, yet I could only demand so much from him before I wept and held him and spoke to him with the utmost adoration. His time is limited, something obvious by the continued downhill slide of his body. So many memories wrapped up in this one cat whose flesh can no longer support the soul that made him master of our domain…
Although I tried also to grab a few pictures of Loki, all of them turned out as so much garbage. He beat me profusely during this episode of quality time. He ran about, punched me around, argued with me, and basically left me not one opportunity to immortalize his godliness within the digital confines of a photograph. There will be other times, sure, but I’m sorely disappointed with myself for not being better prepared for his rambunctious and assaulting interaction with me. For all the abuse I’ve taken from him over the years, I should have known better.