The Adventures of Skylar Grey

Chapter 23: Loving Alexii (or, how a persistent pit bull warmed up a cool cat)

Skylar’s persistence paid off with cool cat Alexii.

Steve is my dog sitter, so it was important that Skylar meet the real ruler of his abode right away: a 15-year-old, 8-pound, rescued Himalayan cat named Alexii. When Steve adopted Blue as a puppy, it took a while for them to tolerate each other. Until this day, Blue has a bizarre obsession with Alexii — any time the cat is getting attention, Blue comes flying from wherever she is and muscles in on the moment. “I don’t know how Blue knows when Kitty is getting attention from two rooms away,” Steve says.

Jazzy met Alexii several months after I adopted her in 2006, and it went off without a hitch. Steve sat on the sofa with the cat on one side and Jazzy on the other. At first, Jazzy was excited, but after watching a Rita Hayworth marathon on TMC, dog and cat — and Steve — were sound asleep.

About two weeks after I adopted Skylar, it was time to take my 10-week-old pittie puppy to meet Miss Alexii. On a warm September evening in 2012, Steve invited us for dinner. Sky and Blue were already fast friends (though Blue still occasionally got annoyed with her never-ending energy), but a cat was something Sky had never even seen before. When we walked into the living room, Alexii was sitting on the side table by the couch, still as a statue. Sky bounded right past her, thrilled to see Uncle Steve and cousin Blue, but out of the corner of one big green eye, she noticed the white fluffy thing was moving. As Alexii calmly groomed one leg, Skylar trotted over and stood beneath the table, barely able to reach the top with her chin. Alexii stopped and stared at her with suspicious blue eyes, and Skylar stuck her nose into the poof of cream-colored kitty fur, closed her eyes, and took a long, deep sniff as if she were smelling freshly washed sheets in a laundry detergent commercial. Alexii went back to grooming her leg, and Sky went back to bugging Blue.

When we moved in with Steve temporarily after the sale of my house, I wasn’t worried about the cat, because Skylar had stayed with Steve numerous times when I was away. Now a year and a half old and still full of puppy energy, she still pestered Blue, though Blue had grown attached to her and was much more tolerant. Occasionally, Sky would turn into Scary Sky and run after the cat, though Alexii was so laid back the game rarely lasted. She would sit on her rear like a circus tiger, flashing her front claws, and Sky would back off. After a week of living with the cat, however, the relationship took a strange turn.

At night, both dogs and the cat decided my bed was the place to be. Jealous Blue would curl up next to Alexii and flash “The Vampira,” her upper lip raised to reveal her big, white, snarling teeth. Alexii’s reaction was priceless — she would start grooming Blue’s head. Sometimes, Blue would simply lay her head at Alexii’s feet, close her eyes, and wait. Within seconds, Alexii would be gently licking right between Blue’s eyes. Night after night, Skylar watched the ritual with a combination of curiosity and amusement. And then, she started scooting closer and closer to Alexii, moving just a few inches each night, until she managed to take Blue’s position. As usual, Alexii ignored her, but Sky was determined to warm the heart of this very cool cat. She imitated Blue’s moves to a tee, laying her head at Alexii’s feet and closing her eyes. Nothing. Sky would crack open one big green bug eye and look up as if to say, “Where’s the love?” Alexii would groom herself, then turn her back to Sky and go to sleep. Week after week this continued — Skylar’s head at Alexii’s feet, eyes closed in anticipation of a sandpaper tongue bath, Alexii cool as a cucumber. And then one cold, rainy night, Sky’s patience paid off. She rested her head beneath Alexii, and Alexii began grooming her head, right between the eyes. Skylar took full advantage of the moment and snuggled closer. Alexii stopped her kisses, stared at Sky with slightly less suspicious blue eyes, then curled up next to her, resting her tiny head between Sky’s paws.

When I awoke the next morning, I found the cat purring away in the middle of a snoring Blue and Sky sandwich. I guess Blue felt a bit left out — or perhaps she was coming to appreciate all that selfless kitty love she took for granted before watching a persistent pit bull pup work so hard to get it.

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