As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we got Liara six months or so after we got Gizmo. Part of the reason was so that Gizmo would have some company when we’re at work and so on, and also because of the nice symmetry in having two cats, a boy and a girl, one cream, one blue.
Liara was lovely when we met her and seemed happy in the home of the family who were selling her; but introducing her to our home was emotionally and logistically challenging, and took a while. We had to keep her in her own room, separate from Gizmo, for a month, and for a month after that we couldn’t leave them alone together. Gizmo was curious about her: he spent the first night after Liara moved in crying outside the door of her room, and T. had to walk him up and down the corridor for hours, rocking him like a baby. As a nine-month-old cat in a new home with new people and an older, male cat, Liara was afraid, and would regularly hiss through the door at Gizmo and swipe at him if we let him in. It was difficult for us because obviously we wanted them to get on, and a big part of getting Liara was to try and improve Gizmo’s quality of life and get some more company for him. For a while it was touch and go whether we would be able to keep her, and we wondered whether a Ragdoll or something would be better matched to Gizmo’s personality.
If Liara hadn’t been so wonderful with us, there’s a good chance we would have re-homed her in the end. But despite her nerves around Gizmo, she has always been very friendly with people. She likes humans and has a becoming shyness about her when faced with a large group. She is much more typical of British Shorthairs than Gizmo, and hates being picked up, but loves being stroked and petted–so long as it’s on her terms. She’ll just shy away and scurry off if she doesn’t feel like it, or if she feels uncomfortable.
We’ve had Liara for 18 months now, and although her and Gizmo have learned to share the flat without major problems, they’re still not as close as we would like. He often approaches her when she’s sleeping and clumsily tries to groom her, which always ends sooner or later in a wrestling match as she escapes his tender embrace. They’ve both been neutered, but presumably some of that instinct remains in them both. This threat of Gizmo appearing out of nowhere probably explains her occasionally skittish behaviour, and she’s more alert and wary around the place than he is.
Not all of that is down to Gizmo’s presence, though. Although Liara is a pedigree cat, her pedigree is not as high as his; and there is a bit more of the street moggy about her. I think that’s the ultimate source of her relative nervousness and alertness: she is just a bit closer to the street than Gizmo, and less of her instinct has been bred out of her. Liara still makes a very good house cat–she’s friendly, lazy, and sociable–and in a way she’s a good counterpoint to him. Whereas Gizmo is the ultimate momma’s boy, Liara’s personality is definitely a bit more that of a streetwise daddy’s girl. Unlike Gizmo, she doesn’t mind going to the vet, where (again unlike Gizmo) she behaves impeccably. The only exception was the time we took them both at once, and Gizmo’s incessant crying in the taxi encouraged her to start, too. Fortunately the driver was more amused by our feline chorus than anything else.
It’s a cliche, but in our experience pets do bond more with an owner of the opposite sex. We each adore both our pets, of course, but there’s no question that Gizmo’s bond is strongest with T. and Liara’s is stronger with me. I don’t know whether that dynamic emanates from the cat, the owner, or both, but it’s real. Gizmo most often seeks out T.’s lap in the evening, while in the morning it’s me that Liara seeks out for a stroke before we leave for work. Liara hates it when I leave the flat, whether it’s going to work in the morning or going to the gym, and will often tip over on her side at the top of the stairs and indicate she wants to be stroked. (Of course, I have to oblige.) While she will rarely plonk herself down on your lap like Gizmo will, she does like to be in the same room as you, and I probably underestimate how much company and attention she actually needs. Maybe some of that’s down to the fact she’s much less vocal than Gizmo, who constantly talks to us when he wants a chat or feels like complaining about something (and before meal times). She does have an adorable kind of chipmunk chirrup, though, which she only uses when she’s very excited (about food) or wants your attention. If I hear that noise I know she’s overdue a bit of TLC.
Mass Effect fans will know this already but her name is a homage to one of the main characters from that series. She’s our own blue and true love.