Image for “Cats”, Finding Your Bliss

I had always assumed I was a dog person. I grew up with a beautiful blond cocker spaniel named Bubbles. She was a gentle creature who endlessly tolerated being dressed up and put in a carriage. Yet, she would have given her life to protect us. My childhood experience with cats was limited, and my assumptions about them were the usual clichés—to rid the house, the barn, the castle, perhaps even the planet of mice.

As an adult, of course I encountered other people’s pets, but the nature of my work and the constant travel meant that for years, I lived a petless life. But fate then intervened. I reluctantly agreed to kitty-sit for a friend. When she arrived, this tiny chocolate-point Siamese, as delicate and beautiful as anything I had ever seen, she claimed my heart. I didn’t want to give her back. Cooler heads prevailed, but my connection with this darling creature was so profound that I began my search for a clone.

Kittens of all kinds were readily available, but not a female, chocolate-point Siamese. Finally, I found a woman who had two “girls.” As I came breathlessly through her door, the breeder explained apologetically that she had sold the female. “You said you had two,” I countered. She pointed to a corner. A tiny kitten, the abandoned runt of the litter, was huddled there, looking utterly lonely and resigned. I wanted her. And I was not to be deterred. I paid full price, and promised I would make no legal claims if my choice perished. So I carried the precious little creature away in the palm of my hand and toward a future neither she nor I could imagine.

I believe it was Leonardo da Vinci who said that even the smallest feline is a masterpiece, and how true that is! My little Siamese had a brown mask, sable paws, a rich, dark tail, and china-blue eyes. I marvelled at the perfection. She was at my side through many of the traumas that life offers up—divorce, illness, being fired—and the countless other emotional crises that have punctuated my life story.

A cancer diagnosis meant an uncertain future. In the darkest moments of the night, when the chilling hand of fear gripped my entire body, she stayed close. She seemed to understand what I dared not say aloud. This phase of our “bonding” taught me a few life lessons. Patience is a virtue. I could depend on her. A cat’s purring really does heal human hurts. And being a control freak is not always a good thing. You see, I had no choice but to lie quietly and consider my own character flaws and controlling tendencies—and to finally abandon them in the face of a sweetly demanding feline.

Cats—all cats, big and little—sleep about sixteen hours a day, so she willingly kept me company in bed. And with our new, shared vantage point, I began to see the world differently—through her eyes. She listened as I talked about my life’s regrets and most precious moments. My confessions were for her ears only, and the more I doubted my strength, the closer she drew to me and the quiet comfort she offered helped me rediscover hope.

We moved to New York, where she ruled the town. Several years later she left me, and the loss was inconsolable. You may think me a bit crazy but she still comes to “visit”. There are signs. She still listens and hears me. I could have never imagined the true complexity of the bond. She is the gift that keeps on giving. And now I simply cherish the memories of one of the most powerful relationships that a human and her Kitty can have. She changed me.

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