Typically, it is best to define and describe oneself, other individuals, and objects based on who and/or what they are. It is a positive path to clear understanding. Sometimes, though, the negative is helpful: this is not this; that is not that.
Sometimes, the negative is unavoidable anyway…at least at first glance.
Cue the cats of Tabby’s Place. Specifically, cue the lookalike cats.
On a semi-recent visit to Suite A, while one tiny grey miracle was still accepting our adorations in Suite J, a newer-to-us tiny grey cat came over to greet me. After a double-take and a moment’s thought, I said, “You’re not Boom.” To this plain statement of the obvious, Xena shrugged nonchalantly and declared, “Duh!” Of course she is not Boom. She is Xena. Our Boom was Boom, and no other cat will ever Boom the way Boom did for all of those years that he was ours to call ours (We still call him ours. The Rainbow Bridge supports all calling plans). Superficial similarities of fur color and size notwithstanding, everyone knows that Boom was our resident, Halloweeny, vampire-cat, while Xena continues to be the leading warrior princess.
As with all warrior princesses, Xena is secure in herself and her own power. She is also aware of her own appeal to the humans around her and takes full advantage her regal status and demands due attention. We oblige willingly. Also, Xena’s nickname is Not-Boom.
Around the time of “The Incident in Suite A,” it became clear on social media that Olive also has an almost-twin. Comments have included such things as, “Wait, that’s not Olive,” and “Oh, Olive has gotten so big!,” and, “Is that Olive? I don’t think that’s Olive.” [NB: Not one of these quotes is an actual, for real, direct quote, but all of these sentiments have been expressed similarly.]
Who could it be that is not Olive and yet immediately brings Olive to mind?
Everyone thinks there is only one tuxedo cat at Tabby’s Place who wears diapers with that much swagger. People only remember there being one diapered tuxedo cat in the lobby who swooshes around to greet people. Begging pardon, but there are now two.
Size difference and personalities aside, there is only one cat at Tabby’s Place who could remotely be considered to act as Olive’s stunt-cat. He is not Olive. He is most definitely Antin. Antin has such a sweet disposition that he doesn’t mind the confusion nor the affronts from Olive, who minds very much indeed. As to his nickname, Antin responds to Not-Olive with an easy-going flick of a whisker and an ask for a pat…or two thousand pats.
Flashing forward to the very recent past, it was tour time on a Sunday afternoon. While standing outside of the Quinn’s Corner lobby, looking through the lobby glass and also the suite G glass, I pointed out, “That’s…Tucker? No, that’s not Tucker.” “Who is that?” A glowingly fabulous fellow volunteer offered, “That’s Derby!”
If Tucker could have custom ordered his very own mini-me, the result would have been the petite, young Derby. As jaunty as a carelessly tipped hat, Derby even has a black mark on the white of his nose, just like Tucker (Well, Derby’s black nose spot is not quite as small as Tucker’s, and the black on his chin isn’t like Tucker’s pristinely white chin, but who’s counting?).
Also like Tucker, Derby is a very big fan of wrestling. Derby, to be clear, is not a fan of watching wrestling on TV. Derby prefers participating…enthusiastically…and ideally with Charles. Meanwhile, Tucker’s preferred fellow wrestler is Oram.
So, there actually are differences (at least one), but with the resemblance being what it is, Derby is also known as Not-Tucker. Derby doesn’t care just as long as someone will rescue the dinner he knocked over and that fell between the kitty condo and the suite window. He doesn’t want to miss a nibble.
Also loathe to miss the barest hint of an opportunity to nibble anybody’s dinner is soft crate unzipperer extraordinaire Hips. Hips would very much like to be in on the twin thing. At the moment, though, the best that Hips can do about that is to lie in Valerie‘s preferred position, on Valerie’s preferred big bed with Valerie’s preferred toy, Larry the Lobster (okay, sometimes it’s Shrimpy or mini- Larry the Lobster), and be Not-Valerie. Valerie is fine with this arrangement. She is content to be Not-Hips and to nap under the shade of a cat tree.
Lookalikes or not, similarities or not, every cat at Tabby’s Place is treated as a unique individual. Each cat has preferences that are given particular attention. Each cat is special and treated especially well. Each cat is loved, not for who or how they are not, and certainly not for who they look like. Each cat is loved for being exactly who they actually are.
P.S. This “Not” thing is not unique to cats. Lacking the continued existence of a formerly favored bookstore, some of us suffer the continued presence of Not-Borders and have even, upon rare occasion, found reason to purchase a bargain cookbook now and again.
Author’s note: For those readers who may yet be unaware, the crossing of our beloved Boom over the rainbow bridge took place on the same day sweet Samantha crossed. Leaving Boom in the blog is the best way I know to honor the astounding, tiny creature who wanted nothing more than to be brushed, burrow under blankets, and to take over the world one cat sanctuary at a time.