Ode to My Cat Odin
This post allows you to get to know more about Odin; my cat, my roommate, my furry friend. He's featured in a lot of my stories, photobombs my images and is generally lurking in the background all the time. I love him to death and wanted to share more about him because he's not a prop but a wonderful fixture in our lives. So, here's an "Ode to Odin".
My partner and I adopted Odin in 2014 at the age of 2 (you can do the math to know how old he is today) at the Toronto Animal Shelters back when we lived in Liberty Village. I always thought I was a dog person and had a poor attitude towards cats, believing in the stereotypes that they were all assholes. They aren't, far from it. Cats have as diverse a personality as dogs do, but simply on a different spectrum. I remember my feelings about cats pivoted with my brother's partner (at the time), who had the sweetest pair. One, Coco, would gently rub up against me every night I slept over (which I did often as a transient 20-something escaping the suburbs). I still adore her to this day.
At this stage in my life, 24, and "settled in" with a partner whom I lived with, I was ready to foray into loving something else that wasn't my work and career. Waldek was indifferent to getting a cat, not really convinced we needed one. Back when he lived in Poland, he had a family cat that he witnessed being run over by his father's car. Farm life was sometimes cold and indifferent to the death of animals but the circumstance of his cat's death left him traumatized, I think. Despite this, I said, "Hey, let's just take a look," and that was enough to convince him to visit the shelters.
We adopted Odin during a Black Cat themed adoption run by the Toronto shelters where adoption fees were waved (an easy point to convince my partner to go from just browsing to bringing home). The irony is that we went in looking for a black cat and came home with a snowball with a grey toupee.
I remember being totally new cat owners, ill-equipped and walking home in a cardboard box with him jostling inside. Odin meowed incessantly during but became radio silent when we opened the box's lip, inviting him out and into our home; his home. He hopped with grace, pointing his nose around and looked seemingly comfortable but then suddenly darted under our bed. I bent to my knees, tapping my hand lightly on the floor and made a clicking sound with my tongue, the universe "come here" noise humans seem to make for all animals. He actually wiggled his way towards me, emerging out. I knew then that, we would be a pair.
Afterwards, I remember not having everything needed for a cat (this was really a last-minute decision): a litter box, toys ...food. So I locked him into the bathroom, scared he was going to hurt himself with my unpreparedness of the space, and I hurried to the pet store minutes down the road. I proudly didn't cheap out, got the necessities mid-range or so, and practically skipped my way home to find him harmless, if not bored, still in the bathroom. I remember calling my friend, a cat owner, to come over and check everything out just to make sure I was doing everything alright.
What's in a name?
Odin was originally named Taz. Odin was only renamed after a Norse god by proxy. I knew I wanted a grandiose name for him, hating indignant titles like Mr. Fluffybottoms, and Meowington and thinking some kind of sweet Japanese treat didn't quite suit him. So over text message, Waldek offered "Odin", which he grabbed from the Final Fantasy summon, a franchise he loved. I was reviling in my video game geekery at the time (I don't play much anymore) and loved it. It was simple, short, and commanded power. I was enchanted by large predator cats and thought a name like this was fitting to the idea I wanted my cat to be.
I call him "Odin the Ordinary" to tease at how unspectacular he looks, though I argue his personality is extraordinary (what pet owner doesn't think about this about their own though?). Over the years, numerous people have sent me messages telling me that their cat is his twin. Odin has many twins, and it's endearing every time I see another with the same colouring. I'll probably feel this way forever as you never quite get over your first cat.
Since we adopted Odin during his adulthood, his personality was set by his previous owners. According to the shelter, they said they moved provinces and didn't bring him with them. I think his previous family must've socialized him well because on paper, he was listed as the perfect cat: good around dogs, other cats and children. We don't take much credit with how he is.
Overall, Odin is not cuddly but he enjoys being picked up and set upon my knees where he spreads his "bat wings" (the loose skin he has around his arms) over my legs. Although he doesn't particularly care about active affection, with the exception of belly rubs, he loves simply being around people. When we have company over, he doesn't greet people but instead finds a nice spot to perch, close his eyes and savour the security of being with others. He's silent company, nondescript and doesn't command attention all the time. I like that about him.
I describe Odin as the ultimate pacifist. He is about the most tolerant cat you'll meet, and around us, he tolerates a lot. When he doesn't like a situation, he just simply leaves instead of fight. He doesn't hiss but he's very, very chatty exactly 1 hour before mealtime.
Learning To Love
My partner taught me to love, but Odin taught me a different kind of love. A love of letting go and allowing boundaries. When we first got him, like many first-time pet owners, I helicopter parented the heck out of him. I was worried if he was acting "normal" (PetMD is a horrible place), and if the food/toys/bowls/beds were good enough for him. I eventually learned that cats are fiercely independent and its an aspect to cherish. The fact he didn't need my attention 24/7 meant I could ease off on my anxieties. Even though admittedly, when he entered our lives, he became a bit of a "baby replacement" for our childless millennial relationship, I always had at the back of my mind: he's a cat. He's a predator, an animal, a being well worth respect and un-needing of our coddling. The way to love him was to love him in a way that was species-appropriate.
His Impact On My Life
I mentioned in previous interviews that Odin is my muse. Artistically, it's easy to find visual inspiration in the flexible, quirky bodies of cats but more importantly his attitude was deeply influential. The slow pace of his lifestyle (he sleeps upwards of 16 hours a day) allowed me to re-evaluate the kneck-breaking speed I was running at at the start of my career. I was burning out badly and Odin entered my life at a time where I needed to pull the breaks. There's a calmness to watching him nap and an undescribeable sense of peace when I see him lay about with his paws illuminated over a ray of sunshine. He often sleeps beside my work desk in the studio and whenever I feel stressed, I just look over to the right and am immediately reassured.
Odin, Nature, My Home
How does Odin live amongst so many houseplants? This posts details that. But overall, I partly grow plants indoors for me, but also for him. I think he really does enjoy the greenery we have. Everyone who's been following him knows he's staked claim on the Boston Fern. Indoors, we try to create an environment that enjoys modern amendments, but is also wild and enriching to our cat. I do truly believe he feels like a jungle predator when he's amongst the "shrubbery" of the houseplants that builds the perfect hiding places for the stray horsefly he's hunting. He's very much the King of the Jungle around here.
Yes, Odin does have an instagram @OdintheOrdinary!