Otis, just before he found his forever home with the the Kenneys

HE KEEPS AN EYE ON US

Otis has uno ojo.

That’s one eye for those who do not speak Spanish.

We have to say it in Spanish in front of Otis because he speaks both French and English and we don’t want him to feel different. We’ve been able to keep this secret from him now for five years. Even his brother, Murphy, is in on the ruse.

I know. You’re wondering how he hasn’t figured out he’s missing something so vital as an ojo. First, there’s the language. Spanish. Second, we’ve raised all the mirrors in our house three feet off the ground so he cannot see himself. Third, he’s an indoor cat, so the only other animal he sees is his brother, who, while sometimes chased and tackled by Otis, doesn’t want to do irreparable harm to him. And, finally, no one knows where the missing ojo is located.

Aye, it’s a mystery of the highest order.

Murphy Boy’s darling baby photo(with his stuffed green elephant)

When adopting Otis and Murphy from the San Diego Human Society’s Meow Madness event on June 6th, 2009, we were told that Otis had been born with a respiratory infection that manifested itself in his left ojo. To save his life, the ojo had to be removed. He had the surgery a few days after his birth and now was a normal kitty ready for adoption.

Normal was an arbitrary word.

He is the sweetest cat and loves to cuddle. But normal? Normal is another thing.

With only a single ojo, Otis’ paw-eye coordination is just a little bit off. A few times he missed the bed when he jumped up from the floor and he can never quite grab that agitator overhead, even though he waves his two paws together and then brings them down in front of his face, always empty.

And it appeared he didn’t like the carpet or the floor. He’d jump down from the bed onto the carpet and his little back legs would spring him back up into the air just as quickly. He just did not like the feel of the pile where his paws touched.

Otis refused to get out of bed one morning, so I just made it with him in it. He slept for hours this way: head on my pillow and under the covers.

Then there is entering the master bedroom from the hallway. To Otis the threshold is something to be avoided at all costs. And not just avoided, but overcome, outwitted, faked out and defeated at all times.

His solution: Get a running start from down the hall; then, two 12-inch tiles removed from the threshold, begin his jump; leap as high as he can — aim for the 16-foot high door molding; clear the threshold by 24 inches; and, land inside the master bedroom, careful not to slip on the dyed concrete floor. Slipping brings ridicule from Murphy cat, our Maine Coon. In fact, the only time you are allowed to slip and slide is when you’re chasing Yum Yums. Any tactic is allowed in the Yum Yum free-for-all.

What are Yum Yums? For starters, the proper name is Purina Wisker Lickin’s. Otis and Murphy cat are partial to the tuna flavor, crunchy and yummy. They come in four shapes — the fish (obviously), the three leaf clover, the star and the heart. Even better, they have tartar control. Which is why, of course, I feed the treats to them so often.

They were supposed to be “sometime” treats. But Otis would have none of that. Like a human needing his tobacco fix, the little kitty cat craves his fix morning, midmorning, noon, 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., all the way to midnight and beyond.

Luckily, his Mom and Dad have other ideas. And Otis and Murphy cat get their Whisker Lickinn’s twice a day. It would be easy if they just took them from our hand. But nothing is easy with these cats. No, they want to “catch” their prey.

So I sit in the center of two long hallways and throw the Whisker Lickin’s to one cat at a time. Otis goes right. Murphy cat goes left — but only in Yum Yums. I know first-hand that he is a Republican.

Murphy loves to pose for the camera. Here he sits in his great room chair and turns on his “I’m the cutest cat” face.

So I sit in the center of two long hallways and throw one Yum Yum to Otis, who, with only uno ojo, is a surprisingly agile and able Yum Yum hunter. And then I throw one down the left hallway to Murphy cat. But Murphy cat likes to start his chase on top of my dresser. With the Yum Yum cast down the hallway, he leaps forward off the dresser and runs, fluffy tail in the air, after his prize. He, too, is a good hunter. But unlike Otis, Murphy cat likes to play with his food before eating it.

I could go on and on, but Otis is eyeing me (no pun intended) like prey. Better get up to feed the little monsters before they decide I’m on tonight’s menu.

Au revoir.

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