Sometimes it takes years with a cat to fully figure out their personality, or underlying oddities about their personality.
In the case of Keiran, our (suspected) Turkish Van cat, I now have some hypotheses about why he is the way he is.
We rescued Keiran in 2007 by the side of our house, on a cold December day in northern Minnesota. Keiran was no hardy outdoor feral. He whined, huddling against the warmth of the exterior log walls of the house, and he easily let us pick him up and take him into a separate office building. There, we fed him and isolated him from the other household cats until we could be sure it was safe to integrate him in to the household. (It was safe; he tested negative for Feline Leukemia and received his shots.)
It was fun getting to know Keiran, but he seemed “dreamy” and “spacey” much of the time. He was not excitable. He did have strong opinions about what he loved. If a lap presented itself, he had to be on it, and he would stay in the lap for hours if the human didn’t move or get up.
Other things were odd about Keiran, though. He was sooo laid back and dreamy that he reminded me of a stereotypical “stoner.” Nothing roused him. Once in a while he’d play with a feather toy, but it was almost as if something had to switch “on” and then he’d play for a while. The response was not consistent.
The office where Keiran started out with us had plenty of windows (old windows that we’d recycled, that are useless and need to be replaced, but that let in a lot of light and heat). Keiran took no notice of these windows, even though they were easily at his eye level. The darker part of my mind began to wonder if maybe he had come from a terrible life. Did he live in a room or a place with no light? Did he live in a closet? Why would a cat NOT get excited by looking at the world outside?
As he integrated with the other cats, he fit in very well. He was mellow, and no one seemed to have a problem with him. To this day he will snuggle with particular cats, and they will groom each other. He’s still not stimulated easily, but at some point he learned to get interested in windows. I don’t know how or when this happened, or what set it off, but I know that it makes me happy that he appears to be enjoying the outside world. (Or, maybe it’s just a gift he’s decided to give me. Thank you, Keiran.)
Several years ago, when x-raying Keiran’s hips, the vet discovered that he’d been shot and that part or all of a BB pellet was lodged in his hip. It’s inoperable and doesn’t seem to be giving him trouble, but I was reminded once again of my (I’m searching for the word) sometimes too-good nature. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that someone would do this, and it hits real close to home when it’s my own cat.
Keiran started having seizures earlier this year, about once a month. This is perhaps another piece of the strange puzzle of this cat.
Perhaps he’d really been having silent seizures all along, when he appeared to be spacing out at any given time.
Perhaps someone harmed him and caused trauma to his brain.
Perhaps he was hit by a car.
I will never know, and I try not to let my mind go in those places. There’s enough to deal with right now in the world, and I am trying to enjoy Keiran as Keiran, every day. He’s doing well, eating lots even with kidney issues. He seems happy and my vet tells me that it’s a good thing that the frequency of the seizures are not increasing. Seizures can mean several things, and we cannot know for sure without a brain scan, which we don’t have the means to do.
Instead I try now to keep him safe. We’re in a one-story house where he can get into very little trouble. He gets all the lap time and window time he wants. If he stubbornly demands something (I’ve heard that Vans have a stubborn streak), he usually gets it. And if he looks happy, well fed, with shiny fur and those unusual almond Van eyes — we’re as happy about that as we can be.