The first time I took Forest to a veterinary office (at around four months of age) I sat him on a metal exam table and he instantly hopped around the room like a monkey.
His first spot to explore was a nearby countertop, stepping into a small sink, pulling out the drain stopper with his front foot and tossing it onto the floor.
Forest has always loved water. He seems to be spellbound watching trickling streams of it in the kitchen and bathroom sinks at home. Without active streams of water, he will pull at the drain stoppers, removing them within seconds. Several times I’ve found the sink drain on the kitchen floor when I come home from work.
What I didn’t expect was Forest plucking a drain stopper out of the veterinarian’s sink.
Here’s a deeper glimpse into Forest’s water fixation.
When I wash dishes he observes while sitting on the countertop beside the sink. Occasionally he dips his front paw into the soapy water.
When I shower I see his silhouette on the opposite side of the shower curtain sitting on the tub ledge. He reaches under the curtain to hold one of my wet ankles between his front paws. When I exit the shower, he licks water drops from my ankles.
When it rains he sits in an open window letting mist coat his fur. Sometimes he dashes outside into the fenced yard, bravely dodging the falling drops.
A clay saucer birdbath became his outdoor watering hole. Forest sits beside it lapping like a lion. If I run a sprinkler, he tempts the pulsating stream, slinking through bushes and grass just along the water line.
Over the years I’ve learned of other cats that also love water. One cat, Lucy, sits on the bathtub ledge as her owner bathes. Sometimes Lucy slides into the soapy water.
A coworker’s cat, Addison, likes to sit on the bathroom sink counter and submerge the tip of her tail in soapy water.
My mom has multiple cats that like to collect tiny rubber balls and pompons in a basement floor drain.
My friend, Peggy, had a Turkish Van named Zeki who brought all of his toys, a.k.a. “dead things,” to his food and water bowls. He’d gather multiple pipe cleaners and dip them in his water.
Today at age 6, every toy that Forest owns or stray straw, wad of paper, plastic ring off of a milk jug or insect he kills seems to end up in water. That water could be in the dog’s big bowl, a sink, empty bathtub or birdbath. I joke that this is his way of washing things.
One morning I stepped into the kitchen to find a large furry object floating in the dog’s water bowl. It startled me, appearing to be a dead rat or squirrel. Forest had carried his mink tail toy to the bowl and put it inside during the night.
This episode reminded me of a surprise I received one summer day while walking through my garden. In the birdbath was a dead shrew, belly-up, bobbing around like an apple. It too went into water at the paws of Forest.
As I recount these stories of Forest’s water fascination, I see the ironic connection. He was rescued as a kitten from the streets of Chicago trying to wiggle his way through the iron grate of a storm sewer.