Walnut Brain

Ever since she was a wee kitten, all whiskers and hair on a tiny frame, Mojo has considered the hallway on my floor to be the most fascinating place, quickly annexing it to officially be part of her domain. For the last 12 years, almost every time I come home, she shoots out the door the minute I open it. This means she must hear me coming out of the elevator while snoozing on my bed and somehow make it from out cold to wide awake and from bedroom to front door in the two seconds it takes me to travel the distance (I live next to the elevator). And then we walk around in the hallway for five minutes or so while she sniffs what needs to be sniffed and in general makes sure that all is as it should be. You know that expression about something being as "difficult as herding cats"? Every day, I know the truth of that statement, repeatedly opening the door when she comes near it, as she repeatedly ignores it until she's good and ready to go in.

Once, when she was an adolescent, she ventured past the elevator and ended up quite far down the other end of the hallway. As she was receiving cues similar to our end (hallway vent noise), she confidently went up to the door that should have been mine, got very confused and instead of letting me herd her back home, hunkered down and started wailing for help. Luckily, one of my neighbours came home and carried the confused beastie back home. Just one of the many reasons I affectionately call her my little Walnut Brain. Sometimes, she acts like she should be a member of Mensa and sometimes... well. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious that her brain is a size of a walnut. Since then, I've managed to limit her constitutionals to our end, the elevators marking the end of her territory.

A friend of mine who lives on the same floor has a dog. Big, beautiful Husky-Shepherd mix and one day, she brought the dog (leashed) into my apartment to meet Mojo, who finds dogs almost as fascinating as the hallway. The dog was by my kitchen, Mojo was about a metre from it and they looked at each other, both calm and interested in a very friendly way. That went well, much better than the time I tried to introduce her to a kitten - and yes, I had ulterior motives and a bad case of kitten fever - at which point she hissed for the first time in her then six years. My neighbour and I meant to continue the introductions between cat and dog, but somehow never got around to it. Fast forward about a year, when my friend added to the family and acquired a Lab-Shepherd puppy, black with white toes on each paw. That has at times been exercised in the hallway, as it has boundless energy, enough to wear out several people.

So one day, I come home, wave hi to friend and puppy (by now six months old and the size of a pony) and open my door. As usual, Mojo shoots out, stops, notices that there are other creatures out there and then sees the puppy. Having previously only had good experiences with dogs, her ears are perked happily as she looks invitingly in the direction of the dog. The puppy sees Mojo. The puppy starts cantering down the hallway and this is when we discover that unlike its older companion, this puppy appears to have a hatred of cats lying dormant in its genes until this very moment when said hatred explodes into existence. The puppy starts galloping, hair standing up along its back, showing every sign of impending ferocious catastrophe. Mojo somehow senses this and runs for the door (thankfully, still open), my neighbour is hurtling after the dog and grabs it just in time while falling into my chair. Nobody's harmed, neighbour drags puppy back towards their end and I enter my apartment, to see my cat standing in the hallway, a little shellshocked, not quite sure what just happened, but with a tail, for the first time in her life of 11.5 years, instinctively fluffed out to twice her width.

And ever since, every time Mojo comes out in the hallway, she looks hopefully west, trying to pass the elevators, looking for her friend so they can do it again.

That's my little Walnut Brain.