Always a snuggly cat, Squinty became even cuddlier after his owner Elly Zupko fell pregnant. Hello tummy time!
A lucky cat too, Squinty avoided being put down in 2003
Squinty became a part of Elly’s life after she rescued him from the vet hospital where her then-boyfriend worked. Known as Mango at the time, he was due to be put down after his previous owners were unable to afford the hip surgery he needed.
Fast forward almost 15 years, with a new lease on life and two name changes, Squinty seems like the happiest cat alive and still can’t stop cuddling.
Whilst pregnant, Elly believed Squinty knew there was a change in the air.
“We turned our home office into a nursery, but I don’t think he knew what to expect… I think he enjoyed the warmth I was putting off, and my big cuddly belly,” she said.
“My boyfriend said ‘Mango’ was the coolest cat he’d ever met, and that was something coming from a professional veterinary technician who interacted with cats every day. We agreed to pay for the surgery in installments taken out of my [boyfriend’s] paycheck to save Mango from being put down, and he moved in with me.”
The surgery was a success and Elly said you’d barely know something was once wrong.
“He’s fully mobile, but he has to take stairs one at a time,” she said. “We also realised a few years ago that he is deaf. It’s difficult to figure out a cat is deaf! For a long time, we just thought he was aloof and a deep sleeper. Turns out he couldn’t hear us.”
Mango was renamed Steve, which quickly became Squinty thanks to his “signature” squinty look.
“Squinty has been in my life for almost 15 years,” Elly said. “He’s been with me through six moves. Over that time, he’s been roommates at various times with seven different humans, five other cats [and] two dogs. He now lives with my husband and me, our other cat Trova and our dog Fibber.”
Squinty, a new baby, and more snuggles
Elly then received a range of opinions when her daughter, Willow, was born.
“Plenty of superstitious family friends and relatives warned me that I had to be careful not to let the cats near the baby because they would ‘steal her breath,’” she said.
The warnings didn’t really worry Elly, although she didn’t want Squinty to get into Willow’s bassinet and disturb her sleep or worse, unintentionally scratch her.
“After all, a bassinet is basically a big soft box and everyone knows what cats do with boxes. Squinty actually really liked to get into the crib, because he could look out through the slats and watch the dog, while feeling safe,” she said.
It turned out that Squinty just wanted to be Willow’s cuddling companion and Elly quickly realised she had nothing to worry about.
“I held Willow and let the cats come up and sniff her at their own pace,” Elly said. “My other cat Trova had no interest in her whatsoever, and still doesn’t. I think he’s jealous, because he used to be the ‘baby’ of the family. Squinty immediately wanted to be near her.”
Elly was expecting Squinty to get jealous of Willow and behave more like Trova, but she wonders if Squinty realised Willow was in fact another human, albeit a small one.
“I assumed he would see a baby as another ‘pet’ because she is small. I assumed he would probably be aloof or indifferent toward her,” she said.
But to her surprise, Squinty was completely the opposite and snuggles up to Willow whenever he can.
“Squinty started lying next to Willow from the first time I laid her next to me in my bed,” Elly said. “But he really started truly spooning with her when I began breastfeeding her during the night in a side-lying position in bed, when she was about 10 days old. Squinty usually slept at the foot of my bed, but when he realised I had brought Willow into bed with me, he would immediately come up and spoon her as she nursed. It absolutely melted my heart.”
The routine kicked in and Squinty makes sure both he and Willow get their daily cuddles.
“When Willow wakes up in the mornings, I usually move her into bed with me to have some snuggle time before we start our day,” Elly said. “Squinty almost always joins us. She’s dropped most of her night feedings at this point, but during growth spurts when I nurse her at night, Squinty almost always comes and spoons her.”
Squinty shows incredible patience towards the child
Elly says Squinty’s favourite position is lying up against willow with his head resting on her, although sometimes he enjoys mimicking his new human friend and her sleeping position.
As Willow began to move around more, Squinty would sometimes be in the firing line – and Elly worried if this would damage their relationship. But in true Squinty fashion, he took it all in his stride, patiently accepting the spontaneous knocks and grabs.
“Squinty is so patient with her,” Elly said. “She’s accidentally hit him when flailing her arms about, but he just quietly accepts it. He continues to sit calmly with her, whether he’s being bumped or grabbed. If she grabs too hard, sometimes he will use his paw to gently push her hand away. But I’ve never ever seen him get upset with her.”
Elly loves that her beautiful Squinty and her daughter Willow get along so well but she is also concerned about how much time they all have left together with Squinty no longer on the youthful side of life.
“I love that he is close to her, and not jealous of the creature taking up my attention,” Elly said. “But he’s an older cat, so it makes me sad to think that he may not be around when Willow is older and can more fully appreciate him and make memories with him."
“Squinty was one of my first pets as an adult, and he will always be one of my greatest animal loves,” she added. “I love that Willow is able to be a part of his life.”
Source: The Dodo
Photo credit: Elly Zupko