Zensights provides a space for gentle contemplation in a world filled with hectic action and stressed-out situations.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I have owned many animals in my life. Dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, and fish. I have had pedigrees with papers and hoity-toity breeds living under my roof, but my very favorite kind of animal has to be the back-alley, bruising tom cat that moves into my life with his rough and burley posturing and eventual sweet ways.

The first such animal to adopt me was Ralph, a tortoise-shell, long hair who was as skinny as a twig when he began to forage through our garbage every night. My husband and I fastened the lid to the garbage can tighter, but Ralph was not stupid so he simply pushed the whole thing over. The lid would then pop off and the contents would explode across the yard where he could feast.

We thought of a variety of ways to scare Ralph off. We hollered at him and chased him with a broom, and still he came back night after night. Finally, my husband made a fortunate mistake. He put a bowl of tuna out for the old guy and Ralph became ours for the rest of his life.

Before we knew it he was sleeping in our bed. He did his part to keep the mouse population outside our house at bay, and we did ours by taking him to the vet, getting him his shots and having him neutered (He may have resented this part, but one would never be able to tell it). Ralph grew fat and seemed to adore us. He quickly discovered the pleasures of lap-sitting, and every winter night he was curled in my lap, purring with what I took as contentment.

This relationship lasted many happy years until Ralph succumbed to a urinary malady. For months after, my husband and I swore that never again would we let a cat happen to us, because we never wanted to go through this kind of a sorrow again. We were good to our word for a long time. Human babies came into our lives--a daughter and a son-- and during that phase, we were rather preoccupied to worry about “animals.” Besides, our daughter had shown signs of allergies, so we kept all animals out of our house until Bosco came a callin’.

Bosco, a gray tabby bruiser, took up residence under our deck when our daughter was about 11 and our son was 8. There the cat terrorized all animal life in the neighborhood. We chased and shooed and hollered at him . We even did a stomping sort of dance on the deck to get him to leave, but he stayed and stayed. Finally, my husband admitted to me that he had fed the cat a little tuna accidentally. Then my daughter admitted the same crime and then my son confessed. No wonder the beast wouldn’t leave.

Before I knew it, Bosco had moved into my house, into my bed, and into my heart. When I took him to the vet to get him his shots, the vet confirmed that Bosco was not young. Even I could see that his neck was thick, his ears were tattered, and that he walked with a surly gait telling me he’d been around the block a time or two. Still he possessed the most charming personality that had me laughing and loving him as much as any pet I have ever had.

He had this habit of patting me on the shoulder, leg or face--which ever part was nearest--when he wanted my attention. Then he’d gaze deeply into my eyes with his topaz-cold ones and meow as if trying to speak. It seemed as if a human soul were in his body, and he followed me around the house and yard much as a dog might. I was his person, for sure, and although he was too big to sit comfortably in my lap, he spent winter evenings right next to me on the sofa.

Nine years passed with Bosco filling our lives with his presence. He used to crack us up when he would lie on his back on the deck in the sun, paws in the air and chin pointed up. And there was no newspaper that could be read that he wasn’t right there on it to help me. He tapped me on the head when I’d open the refrigerator on which he watched me cook in the kitchen, and he’s rub up against my legs as I prepared his cat crunchies. When he began having trouble getting up on my bed at night, I knew he was not well and the vet confirmed my fears. Bosco was dying and we had to “put him down.”

After I buried my friend in the shade of the magnolia tree he loved so much, I swore that I’d never allow myself to get so attached to an animal again. Never would I let myself weep uncontrollably over a “dumb” animal! Never would I open myself up to this kind of hurt again!

Then came Humphrey--an orange tabby kitten my daughter rescued from the pound while she was in college--a miniature tough-guy, cat who instantly stole my heart and moved into my life. Although he is no Ralph or Bosco, I can see he has potential. He savagely attacks the vicious weeds and marigolds that grow in my back yard and tries to catch the occasional fly that gets trapped in the kitchen. And as I watch him bounce through the living room chasing shadows and his own tail sometimes, I realize that cats will be a permanent part of my existence. That they fill a void in my life that needs a warm, fuzzy, solid, purring entity in it. Therefore. I keep my cupboard filled with Cat Chow and my windowsill with catnip growing in a pot. I never know what little feline presence may drop into my life and want to stay.


Blogger Sun Singer said...

Cats know that sooner or later they will win our hearts. Anyone who hasn't accidentally fed a cat some tuna has yet to experience the pure joy of catness.


10:19 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home