Kitteh contest: Baihu

February 1, 2011 • 11:15 am

Most regular readers probably know of Baihu, the beloved cat of trumpeter Ben Goren, who also loves to discuss the protruding intestines of the crucified Savior.  Ben entered Baihu into the Awesome Kitteh Contest (the entry is also available as an illustrated pdf here):

It ain’t easy living with a god.

Baihu, the White Tiger of the West, Protector of Emperors, came to me a few years ago. There being no Emperors of Peace at the moment for him to protect, he apparently decided to spend a vacation life in the American Southwest, of all places. For reasons I’m still trying to fathom, he decided to spend it with me.

It did take a bit for him to make the final decision to move in; it seems we both needed some convincing. Naturally, he wasn’t entirely sure I’d be up to the task of providing him with the level of service he’s accustomed to…and I wasn’t exactly certain that I wanted the job, to be honest. Nevertheless, over a period of weeks, the matter became settled. One autumn (of course!) evening, I invited him in. He accepted, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

It’s hard work. The scars are the most obvious, of course. I like to explain that my hands are merely his favorite toys for his favorite game of patty-cake, but the fact is that neither of us knows when an Emperor might need protecting. We have no choice but to keep his skills — and his claws — perpetually at their sharpest. And then there’s the constant demands for massages and belly rubs; pleasant, I’ll admit, but quite time-consuming nonetheless.

Still, I wouldn’t give it up for all the tea in China. Walking around with a god resting on (and clawing) your shoulders…it’s hard standing tall with such a burden, but somehow I’ve never managed to stand taller.

Bonus picture!

18 thoughts on “Kitteh contest: Baihu

  1. Dat’s my boy!

    He’s taking a nap on that comforter on the right side of the frame. I woke him up to tell him the news…and he promptly went back to sleep. Evidently, I’m the only mammal in the house excited by seeing him on teh intertubze….



    1. Bro, sure Baihu would take exception to your touching his servant without permission.

      Oooor … were you thinking of touching the god himself? (O.o)

    1. He’s a feisty bruiser, to be sure. Woe be unto whatever toy he has his attention (and claws) latched on to! He destroyed both his current (non-human) favorites yesterday evening during our after-dinner romp…I’m hoping I can string him along with substitutes until I can make a trip to the store.

      And he’s also the ultimate cuddle cat. He insists on an extended belly rub at bedtime; we fall asleep like that, and usually wake up in the same position in the morning.

      Apparently, the gods don’t believe in half measures….



  2. What beautiful tabby markings! And I’m so glad to finally be able to put a face to the name. Certainly has that quintessential kitteh karma thing goin’ on. 😀

    I learned something researching his name. So I take it he appeared one day and just sort of hung around, eh?

    1. I still remember when I first Googled pictures of African Wildcats. Except for leg length, Baihu looks exactly like one. He’s the archetypal tabby and the prototypical cat.

      A few years ago, when I was still living in the apartment, I put a bag of garbage outside the door to take to the dumpster. A little while later, I heard a crash and barely caught sight of a cat fleeing from the noise. I had some empty cat food cans in the bag…so I took the garbage to the dumpster and put a bowl of food in its place. I didn’t see the food disappear, but it sure didn’t take long to do so.

      Over the next several weeks I eventually spotted the cats — an unbelievably cute tabby kitten and his mother. Mom never let me get within fifteen feet of her, but Baihu would wait longer and longer before running away. Eventually, I got close enough to touch him while he ate — and he ran away as if stung. The next day he was back, though, and I managed to get in one full stroke of his back before he ran away. The day after, he actually arched his back into my hand as I petted him, but he still ran away very shortly afterwards.

      Eventually, he was okay with me picking him up, so long as I put him down pretty quickly. He ate in my lap from my hand. We played a bit, and I was able to entice him into the apartment while playing.

      One evening, I closed the door after he was inside. He freaked, so I let him out. The next evening, he didn’t freak when I closed the door…and he’s been an inside cat ever since.

      Tamar never really cared much for him. I wasn’t able to introduce the two of them properly; living in a one-bedroom apartment definitely has its disadvantages. But she tolerated him and eventually I was able to get both of them on the bed at the same time (with me between them) for belly-rubbing sessions. When Tamar died this past summer (the subcutaneous fluids she needed to keep her kidneys from failing caused heart failure), Baihu definitely missed her for at least a week. Loosing Tamar was awful, but Baihu helped make it bearable.



      1. That’s a sweet story, Ben.

        Keeshu & Bryxie never warmed to Fiona, either. There is a term for it: Pariah Cat. I think Fifi is starting to cave in a little bit to new kitteh, Merlyn. Not touching or anything, but they can be on the same piece of furniture. Keeshu is playing the part of my jealous girlfriend, and probably a lost cause as far as Merlyn is concerned.

        1. That being said, they spent 15 minutes on the bed together last night. Keeshu is not giving up her “David legs” for anybody. Merlyn only left because he has the attention span of, well, you know, …a kitten.

      2. Thanks, Ben, a very sweet story indeed. There’s no such thing as TMI when we’re discussing our favorite felines; I have no idea how those of you who entered the contest stayed within the word limit!

        daveau–“Pariah Cat” would make a great user name!

  3. I’ve always been impressed with Ben’s comments here and at Pharyngula. Now he earns my official “Awesome Trifecta of Awesomeness” award for being an atheist, cat lover, and awesome photographer.

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