L B

You don’t have a cat. Lucky you. This is what you have to put up with if you do.

“What are you doing with that towel?” I ask.

Little Bear is the cat who lives at our house. She’s sitting on a white towel. “Who do you think you are? Get out of my face,” L B says to me. She will be upset if I say she’s my cat. That’s nonsense as far as she is concerned. “Nobody owns me,” she says, “and don’t you forget it.” Ssssh, don’t tell her I said this. She’s my cat whether she likes it or not.

“Look we need to talk,” I say to L B.

“Talk, talk, talk, that’s all you do.”

“That towel is mine.”

“No big deal. Let’s just say that I’m borrowing it for a while.”

“It was nice and clean. Now you made it dirty.”

“Yes. What of it.” That is not a question. It’s a challenge. Then she gives me that face. You cat people know what face I’m talking about. That face that says she’s smarter than me and I had better watch out.

I don’t want to get in any deeper. I’ve been there before and let’s just say it isn’t pleasant. I leave her be, knowing I had better mind my p’s-and-q’s, or I will be in trouble.

Non-cat owners, see what I mean. Uh-oh, I got to go. Here she comes and she’ll be reading this. She’s a speed reader too.

The Passing of Peaches and Buster

Peaches

Peaches

I would like to begin this post by saying that I am not a cat person. But sometimes you have no choice. An animal comes into your life and you have to take that animal in. This was Peaches some thirteen years ago. She came to us, hungry, almost starving. We fed her and she led us to her litter. Two small kittens.

We took the three of them in. We knew, that if we didn’t, the mother might not make it. We were sure the kittens wouldn’t. From the beginning, we decided that they were to go and come as they pleased. Since we have a large back yard, they would have the run of it. We named the kittens Buster and Princess. Not unique names, but they seemed to fit.

Oh, sure. We knew that outdoor cats might not live as long as an indoor cat. I asked myself, “If I were a cat, which would I want to be?” The answer was that I would much prefer the outdoors. In the meantime, they got the run of the house. When we thought they were ready, we took them to the vet’s and got them all shotted up, and spayed and neutered as well. It was the right thing to do.

When we thought they were ready for the world outside, we gave them the run of the yard. Each day they came in for their feeding. Most times Peaches and Princess stayed inside at night while Buster went outside to do his Buster thing.

Buster the Easter Cat

Buster

Some nights he stayed inside until three o’clock in the morning. Then he would get me up, wanting to go out. Half asleep, I followed him into the kitchen and to the back door. We always kept their food dishes in our kitchen. He went to the kitchen door, then he slightly turned his head and thought, “Oh, I need a snack.” Then he went for his food dish. I complained, “Buster, couldn’t you get your snack before you woke me up?” As he chowed down, I imagined that he said,”Oh, I could. But I have something to prove here. I am cat. Here me roar.”

Princess0313

Princess

It became a ritual that the cats met me on the front porch when I arrived home from work. Peaches rolled on the grass, showing off. I petted her for just a few minutes. Buster demanded to go inside for his food. Then I opened the door to let them in. Buster went in first, then he turned and waited on his sister. Having them meet me at the door, then spending time with them that first little while when I got home, it became a way to release the stress I might have had with work. It became a way to relax.

Buster0313

Buster

In 2014, Buster got to the point where he wouldn’t eat. He lost a lot of weight and was pretty close to leaving us. We took him to three different vets before we finally figured out what the problem was. He was clogged up in his intestines. The vet gave him an enema. We brought him home and put him on a wet diet. For a while, we had to force feed him. Finally he got better and mostly went back to the same old Buster he had always been.

Peaches0313

Peaches

Through the years, Peaches got in the habit of leaving the yard and heading over to the park behind us. We weren’t sure where she went but usually she came back to us early in the evening. Buster stood guard, watching his territory, our yard, like a hawk. He came in and ate, then it was back out, making sure he was the king of the castle.

Last August I came home from work and Buster didn’t show up. Thinking that he wasn’t hungry, I didn’t make much of it. I figured he was hiding in the bushes after feasting on a mole or a rat. A second night he didn’t show. I began to walk the neighborhood and check with neighbors. Nope, they hadn’t seen him. I checked online and called to see if he had been picked up by animal control. Nope. Animal control had not been in our area recently. After two weeks, I had pretty well given up on him. Then Peaches didn’t show up either. I went through the same process. No Peaches.

We’ve come to the conclusion that both were either attacked by a coyote or a hawk got them. A neighbor said they had recently seen a hawk swoop down and pick up a cat. We don’t think Buster or Peaches will be back.

CIMG3624

Princess

In the meantime, Princess has taken Buster’s place. But she seems sad. I think she is mourning for Buster. They were very close.

As I said at the beginning, I am not a cat person. But these cats have taught me a lot about our responsibility to animals and our need to be compassionate to them. I used to believe the myth that cats are independent creatures. They are not. Oh, sure. Unlike dogs, they need  their space. They are not mean, as one dog owner recently told me. It is in their nature to hunt. They wouldn’t be cats if they didn’t. They are perfectly built for hunting. I will tell you that they have the most beautiful eyes. They are so expressive. At least, our cats have.

I want you to know that I miss both Peaches and Buster very very much. So do me a favor. If you have a pet, give them a little extra special attention. If you see an animal in need, do as much as you can to help.

Anyway I miss my cats. And I just had to tell you about them.

 

If you want to find out what God has to put up with,

get a cat. We have three. A Mama Peaches, a Sister Princess who thinks she is God’s gift to cats and Buster the Mighty Buzztail. I’ve always heard that cats are the independent sort. They are–they sure don’t like hugs or petting the way dogs do. But they do like to be around their humans from time to time. Perhaps it gives them a break from the hunting life or the sleeping life they love. And all those kitty dreams they have.

Sister0313Curled up on my lap, Sister snores. (But she has to choose to crawl up on my lap.) And she loves boxes to crawl into, the bigger the better. When we give the cats a treat–a can of cat food instead of the regular dried they normally eat–she is the one who will lick the spoon and the can. There are times she’ll look at me and her eyes will say, “Who the hell do you think you are?” Other times her eyes will say, “I’m so glad you’re my human.”

Buster the Mighty Buzztail likes to be left to himself. He’s a great one for running outside at Buster0313night. And he loves water. In the middle of a storm, he’ll be out in the rain, going, “Wow. This is so cool.” Then he’ll run into the house and expect me to dry him off. He loves that. When he sleeps in the house at night, he’ll wake me up at three in the a.m., wanting out. I’ll follow him through the kitchen. He’ll stop at the back door and take a gander at his bowl of food, then he’ll let me know that he needs a snack before he goes out. I have to stand there, at three in the morning and half asleep, and I have to watch him eat. He will settle for no less.

PeahesMama Peaches was a feral cat. She was half starved when she showed up at our back door with her two kittens. Since I am in no way a cat person, I had to be persuaded to take the three of them in. Since then, Peaches has enjoyed the good life. She is very sensitive, very skittish. She’ll run off for a day, then show back up at the house. She eats but never a lot. But from time to time she’ll crawl up on my lap or my bed and lie there, feeling for all the world that she is at peace and is loved. As she is. She’s earned her reward, a safe home and the right to go and come as she feels.

So there you have it. Three cats who live at our house. But what does that have to do with God?

I have come to realize that in a relationship between human and cat, God is the human, we are the cats. He lets us roam free and independent. He watches out for us but doesn’t interfere unless we are in real danger. We run wild and free and go chasing things the way cats do. But when we need a lap to lie on, He’s there.

Here’s one of my favorite poems about cats. It was written by Christopher Smart:

For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry (excerpt, Jubilate Agno)

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.