We didn’t think about our cat Zorro’s resemblance to any past pets when we first rescued him. We had too much on our minds – moving, questions about whether I’d be able to tame this feral cat on the other end of the move (I was), and a million other details.
And Zorro didn’t invite comparisons during the first two months after the move. He was busy hiding in the bedroom where he was isolated, growling at me, and eventually growling AND letting me pet him. I was too busy walking that fine line between wanting to love him and backing off. It would be some time before I was able to handle him, let alone brush him.
I didn’t really begin to get to know Zorro until he was tamed (a relatively fast process) and integrated into the rest of the household. By this point (two to three months after capture), I was generally able to pick him up and even start brushing him. It turned out that in typical Ragdoll fashion, he loved to be handled. (To give you some insight here, I’m not sure Zorro was truly feral. I suspect he was a very scared stray, and that’s why he was able to be captured and tamed so fast.)
Disclaimer: I know that I cannot prove that Zorro is a Ragdoll. Obviously, since he was captured as a stray, I have no formal papers. I call him a Ragdoll here, but it’s possible that he looks like a Ragdoll and has other breeds in his genetics. For that matter, we don’t even know that our dog Chinook was an official Keeshond, since she was surrendered by a family in town, and no papers were available. But she sure looked like a purebred Keeshond.
In any case, sometimes realizations come quickly; sometimes they accumulate subconsciously over time. I think that with my husband and me, the realization accumulated over time. It never got voiced until one moment, when we were both watching Zorro. My husband said, “He looks like Chinook!”
I started laughing. Chinook was passed on now for many years. But the more I looked at Zorro, I thought, “Yes!” The resemblance is uncanny. Here are ways they look alike:
Keeshonds (and Samoyeds) have that lovely tail that curls over their backs. Zorro has it, too! It’s never in any other position. It’s never down, or up, or straight. It is always curled over the back.
Zorro loves to flop, as Ragdolls do. He’ll use his body in any way possible to get attention – rolling, schmoozing, and flopping on his side. Chinook danced, too! Her dance was more doglike, but just as enthusiastic. When she got excited, she’d spin fast in circles, jump around, and make a high pitched sound like, “ha HAA! Ha ha ha hah!” Both Zorro and Chinook have/had a lot of happy enthusiasm for life. They have/had light and happy personalities.
Again, I didn’t see this similarity until I was actually able to handle Zorro and begin combing him. Fortunately, he adores being brushed and combed. Once I’d removed all his mats (from his life as an outside cat), I realized that he did indeed have a beautiful ruff around his neck, just like Chinook.
Chinook had a beautiful gray fluffy coat. Kali (my tabby) loved to bury her face in Chinook’s fur. Zorro has a beautiful white coat with black markings and (yes) some of the same shades of gray as Chinook.
I know — doesn’t every pet? But these two really dig attention. Zorro will do just about anything to get a touch or a pet. Chinook was the same way — highly wired for connection. All you had to do was look at her and she came running and dancing. All I have to do is look at Zorro and he comes running, flopping, and looking for touching.
I always suspected Chinook would come back to haunt me, and I must be right. She was a stubborn dog, and I can be a stubborn person. We had many clashes of wills, partly due (I’m guessing) to my inability to understand how to motivate dogs. Perhaps that is why she may have come back as a cat! I understand cats better – yep, that’s it. Chinook and Zorro are looking out for me.
Who the heck knows? It may be possible. Have you ever had a new pet show up who bore an uncanny resemblance to a pet from your past, even across species? Tell me in the comments.
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About Catherine Holm: Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.