We have an unusual fellow staying in our guest house. And we have an unusual visiting pattern. We go there, he doesn’t come here. His name is Ziggy and he’s a cat. No, a gorgeous, loving, golden-buff color cat. He has lemon-lime eyes and tiger stripes around his tail. He is banished from the main house because of Livia, our scaredy cat. Whenever they are together, Ziggy attacks her, and it takes her a week to recover from the trauma and come out from under the bed.
Livia watches from the house when my husband or I visit Ziggy. For a while, she wouldn’t speak to us when we came back, but now she gets it. She even sits at the window and stares at him until he gets frustrated. Then she spins around with her tail straight up and a lilt in her walk as she leaves her post. A job well done.
Ziggy loves to play, has become addicted to “cookies”, and has taken up art while he is confined. He makes lovely splash patterns on the mirror behind his water dish by dipping his paw and shaking it. (Maybe I overdo the catnip?) The most unusual thing about Ziggy is that he is deaf.
The timing of Ziggy’s visit is serendipitous. He is helping me write my current novel, which is about an eight-year-old girl who also happens to be deaf. Ziggy shows me how he uses his other senses to make up for his hearing loss. He sniffs, tastes, senses, and feels. I notice that he occasionally moves his ears as if he’s trying to hear. He can feel the rumble of the trash truck approaching. He will suddenly be aware of something outside when I cannot hear a thing. Maybe because he’s deaf, he focuses more acutely. He quickly learned a new sign I taught him for leaving. I am trying to teach him one for cookies, but he always beats me to the drawer anyway. I also think he feels loneliness more, silence is isolation. But he sleeps like a baby, soundly, as he is in the picture, which I was able to walk right up and snap without waking him. Makes me think earplugs might help on those sleepless nights.
So, when my book is out there someday for you to read, look in the acknowledgements and you’ll find the name: Ziggy!