The vet gave him antibiotics and told me Laz was about a year old. I carefully washed him and gratefully welcomed this gaunt, but gorgeous, feline into our family. I was certain that the other three members of our family would too. Wrong!
Cats are nothing if not territorial. Noah and Jeremiah mostly ignored Laz so long as he didn’t try to gobble their dry food. Eliza was a different story. She hated him on sight. Hissed. Caterwauled. Threatened him with sharp claws. I held her and explained that Laz needed a home. We had a good one to offer him.
She ignored me. Turned her head away in a right snit, remained stubbornly jealous. I was her human. No one else’s. Two other cats might live there. After all, they always had. They offered no threat. But to add another? That was too much for Eliza.
One day while making a sandwich, I hear the menacing yowl of an angry cat. Eliza has cornered Laz between two boxes on the side porch. He faces her, trying to squeeze into himself so as to give her less area to strike. An impossible task for Laz has Maine Coon in him. His bones are big, his body long and lean.
“Eliza, leave Laz alone,” I order.
Glowering at him, she yowls angrily. Hisses threat. The sounds alarm me. Laz looks terrified. He's cowering on the rice mat.
“Leave Laz alone,” I command again.
Eliza’s ears don’t even twitch. She crouches lower, stalks menacingly toward him. Once again I tell her to stop. She seems oblivious to my voice.
Without warning, she leaps into the air and attacks. Fur flies. Laz shrinks before her. I yell as Eliza has never heard me yell. In fact, she’s never heard me yell at all. She pauses momentarily. Then goes at him again. Sharp claws gripping his back.
“Leave Laz alone!” My voice reverberates around the porch.
Abruptly, Eliza takes out running. Into the dining room, down the hall, up the steps into the first bedroom. Through the door to the second. Through the door to the third. Out of the third and down the steps.
I race after her, wailing like a banshee, “Leave Laz alone!”
She bounds down the steps. I follow, chasing her down the hall, through the dining room, into the kitchen. She turns. Scoots between my legs and back into the dining room. We start the circuit again. Up. Around. Down. Kitchen. I’m yelling at the top of my voice. She’s trying to get away from me.
Half way up the steps for the third time, she stops. Sits back on her haunches. Turns and stares at me. I stumble to a stop by the bottom step and look up at her. She looks puzzled. Bemused. What the heck is happening?
I’ve terrorized her. I’ve protected one cat but browbeat another. What kind of human am I?
I sit on the step below her and take her in my arms. My tears fall on her long deep-gray fur. “Eliza, I’m so sorry. I love you,” I sob. “But you can’t do that to Laz. He’s a member of our family now. You’ve got to accept him.” She hears my voice and begins to purr.
Ever afterwards, she left him alone. My wailing banshee act had scared her so, she never again threatened him. However, she never accepted him either. For all three of the cats, Laz was, and always would be, an outsider. Yet he never gave up trying to interest them in play nor did he ever let go of the peace that enveloped him when he failed in his attempts.
From Laz, the Outsider, I learned equanimity.