For the Love of Cats

A dear friend is dealing with the aging of his wonderful cat, his friend for well over 15 years. This made me think about our relationship to animals, and to reflect on my life with cats…

First, and in general, I have come to realize that many if not most of us find a relationship with a non-human to be incredibly fulfilling. Comforting, challenging, fun, loving, silly, joyful, along with frustrating, costly, and sad. And, above all, totally worth it. So many of us say “never again” and then soon find that the missing piece is a big deal and must be filled.

Why do we not relate this feeling of care and connection to nature-at-large? All of the knowledge, connection, and joy is ours if we would only recognize it. All of the need for us to care and maintain and respect are there as well if we simply accept it. And we really must…maybe we need more active connections

  • I notice more about butterflies now that I started raising monarchs each summer.
  • I notice more about the seasons now that I’ve engaged in gardening in my small, urban lot.
  • I notice more about the weather and the uphills and downhills of the city I live in as I bike places, rather than taking the car.
  • I notice and speak with more neighbors the more I sit out on our front porch.

The cats that have graced my life are listed below. To be clear, I love dogs as well, but my nature is more cat-aligned. Maybe it’s the Gemini in me. They need cuddles, but are tremendously independent. They hunt seriously, yet play with their food. They show nothing but distain when you return, yet make it clear you never should have left. They are clean animals, but shed on everything (a cat person is visibly a cat person).

Every one of these compatriots taught me something about my life, and my connection to other lives. 

  • Pussywillow, a bob-tailed cat named after the soft, grey, buds of the pussywillow bush, who I brought home from church school (without parental permission) and got to keep. 
  • Smokey and Pogo, offspring of Pussywillow. Smokey was a no-tail, grey, hunter, and Pogo was a bit slow and could not care for himself. I still have not completely forgiven my mother and brother for putting Pogo down. But I understand.
  • A rescued black and white we called Tuxedo for the few weeks we had her, before she was taken in by another family that needed her more. She was a homework cat. 
  • Tabitha, who pretty much kept me alive through high school and teenage self-doubt and dark thoughts, waited for me to come home before having her kittens, lived to be 16 years old, and lived with me in two countries, while a kid, then in college, after while single, and then while married. 
  • Nellika, my Dutch cat-in-law, who somehow figured out how to get into the bunny cage. She did not eat Julian, our bunny…I think she wanted only to play? 
  • Poncho Barnes (named after a famous female pilot and adventurer), Mcguyver (pretty clear), and The Mighty Quinn, three siblings we got when we went to get one cat to grace our mobile home in the woods in the USA. Mac followed the moon, Quinn got taken by a Fisher (we think), and Poncho lived long and died at home.
  • Husquevarna (after the Swedish chain saws) and Chessie (after the train) a brother and sister. Chessie disappeared, we know not why. Husky took to the woods to die after his second kidney failure. Our son and Husky bonded thoroughly. 
  • Zoe who was scared of people. She disappeared for two months, then came back, but did not like the move to Albany. She stayed in the basement, until she got out. I think she tried to go home to the woods. I still watch for her. 
  • Luuno, named after the moon (he was all white, and a bit looney) who we rescued from a rescuer. A viscous, angry, scared cat who would lash out irrationally at us. After three years of unconditional love, he decided to keep us. We had to put him down at a ripe old but unknown age. These wounds are still raw. 
  • Playful and Hudson, adopted brothers from a foster family. Hudson could not figure out the city streets and was killed, too young. Playful lives up to his name, is a total tiger, and has absolutely toxic drool.
  • Rugby Riley Pool, another rescue, who either fell off a roof (we found her on several, way up high, even on neighbor’s houses) or was kicked and broke her back. She recovered, but this little part-Maine Coon is now 16lb a bowling ball with fur. 

Get a pet. Let it teach you about the world you live in, all of us live in: the comfort it gives and the care it needs.

For Gordon, and Misty-cat.

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