• Sophia Aguiñaga

Rufus + Regina

Honestly, it was pretty challenging loving a raccoon. They like to get in trouble, and I think they get caught on purpose sometimes, just to stir things up. Cats aren’t known for their patience, but this raccoon, Rufus, was so fluffy and silly. He’d perform tricks just to make me laugh, and I laughed every time. He knew exactly how ridiculous he looked and he was proud of it.

He’d do something silly like cartwheels or suddenly be munching on a snack that he seemed to pull out of nowhere. I’d see him watch for the smile to spread across my face, and sure enough, my head would tilt back, my mouth would open wide, and my loud laugh would tumble out while his chest puffed out.

I couldn’t understand why he loved it so much at first. I’ve always hated feeling silly or being laughed at, but cats and raccoons are very different creatures. He would share his little treats with me and it was like treasure. Even if it was just cartwheels or crackers, it felt like we were fat, rich, and laughing at the whole world.

I was surprised by how intelligent Rufus was. I’d met a couple raccoons, and they were always up to something - rummaging through someone’s stuff, breaking into something, starting fights. Honestly, I wouldn’t have given any of them a second thought, but he felt different.

I was sunbathing at a park last summer and heard a catcall. I opened my eyes and and saw this raccoon grinning at me. I hear “pretty” a million times a day, and it never matters. Tell me I’m pretty or ugly, and I’ll still be beautiful. Of course, I closed my eyes and ignored him. I didn’t love him yet, so I didn’t care at all what he thought of me. But he seemed to know that about cats, or maybe he just liked a challenge.

He waddled closer, curled up into a fuzzy brown ball, and started to roll around my blanket, telling me about how he would rather play than work as his head bobbed around. I sat perfectly still, stretched out in the sun, eyeing him and giggling under my breath.

Finally, he popped up right next to me, reached out his paw and asked my name. “Regina,” I purred, and put my paw in his as he repeated my name. I could feel myself blushing. He was handsome and held onto my paw longer than he should have.

Rufus was so energetic. He never stopped moving and talked a lot. He listened a little too, but I never have much to say to someone new. I told him how I lived in a beautiful kingdom, loved to explore and learn from different creatures, but mostly I listened to him chatter and laughed while he danced around.

Hours passed and the sun was suddenly setting. For me it was time to go home, but the darker the sky became, the more his eyes lit up. I could tell he was going to be out all night.

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