You Rock My World!

It’s laundry day #2, and I’m tackling the bedding in my bedroom.  As usual, my two faithful helpers have been ever-present, inspecting every detail and nuance of the process.  In stripping the pillowcases and sheets, and separating the down comforter from its cover to wash it, I had several typical cat reactions from Toby and Timba. The natives were restless indeed! Toby hopped from spot to spot on the bed to evade the “dangers” of me pulling and wadding sheets. Like a faithful “tree” kitty as opposed to a “bush” kitty, he hopped on the top bookshelf for a “safe” view of the ordeal.  Timba, on the other hand, was fully participative, white whiskers prominently displayed and pink nose at every turn. When I returned to my room from putting the bedding in the washer, Timba was sitting on the bare bed with the most bewildered expression on his face.

At this point I laughed, a good hearty one too, because Timba’s face said it all: You rocked my world!  And how true is it? The most minute changes cannot escape the attention of a cat.  And let’s face it, change is not something any cat is keen on. Environmental change can be intriguing at best and devastating at worst.  From the small things like changing the sheets, opening mail, bringing in groceries or new items in boxes, to the big changes like a trip to the vet and that ominous car ride, or moving apartments or homes altogether. Cats … do … not … like … change. It rocks their world!

But you know what? As much as we can rock the world of a cat in big and small ways alike, they also can rock our world.  Having once lived with a roommate where we peaked at 8 cats together, I have had plenty of time and opportunity to observe “cat nature” at its finest. It’s the little things that amuse me, the little things that delight me: the “eye blink” (or cat “I love you”) for example.  Now that I know that this is how cats communicate affection or acceptance, Timba and I regularly exchange affection in this endearing way. Or Timba’s paw bump to say “hey”, or tapping a paw from my side or behind me to say “gimme some love mom”, or Toby’s odd meow that is more like a prolonged “meh”, or Timba’s “Mike Tyson” high-pitched meow elicited from that big brutish body. From Toby’s sophisticated paw drinking method to Timba’s subtle eye and ear signals that say “you’re pissing me off human” (which I do intentionally quite often because it’s so darn cute and amusing), they rock my world.

The big things do as well, like the fact that I seriously considered getting rid of Toby to spare him from Timba’s early harassment phase.  Or the time that Timba chased a paper wad over the side of the bed facing the wall and suddenly went quiet.  He had gotten stuck upside down. I knew something was wrong, called his name, heard him struggle, and just as I lunged to rescue him he came struggling back up the bed and literally gasped for air for the longest minute or two ever. I can never forget that day, and about tear up just writing this. It was such a scare, rocking my world so bad that even a few months later when he flies over that side of the bed to chase Toby or toys I tense up and listen for signs that he’s moving on elsewhere, despite now keeping the bed a safe distance from the wall.

I love my two cats. I really do – they rock my world and have changed me. Life is better, my perspective is better, my heart is better. I’m so glad I can rock their world too, because the ways in which they react to it rock my world in turn, giving me moments of laughter I will forever cherish.

 

5 Things I Didn’t Know About Cats While Growing Up

A Cat’s Whiskers Are Amazing!

I’d always been told that whiskers help a cat to know whether or not it can navigate through tight spots.  They are like feelers gauging the parameters of a space so that dear little kitty won’t get stuck trying to go through something that would accommodate his body half way through – to his utter humiliation.  It turns out that whiskers are feelers in more than just the physical sense.  They are emotional indicators as well, tell tale signs of a cat’s mood or emotional state regarding something.  Whiskers back can mean a cat is in a state of relaxation and is comfortable in his or her environment.  Whiskers back can also reflect fear, in which case other things like wide eyes and flattened ears help to discern.  Whiskers forward (my favorite) show that a cat is alert and highly interested in something.  I never paid attention to the movement of whiskers as a child, but now one of my favorite things to do to Timba, since his whiskers are so long and prominent and expressive, is to take a toy in my hand and move it back and forth towards him to watch his whiskers jut out with piqued interest and then relax.

Cats Play Fetch Too!

Timba was the first cat I ever had or saw that would fetch items when thrown.  I have since learned that this is a typical trait of Siamese cats, so being half Flame Point Siamese, it’s in his genes.  However, after throwing enough paper wads, mice and toy balls, my other cat Toby eventually caught on to the game.  He is half Russian Blue, and they are typically shy and reserved cats.  But a little nurture to conquer the nature, and voila! Toby is now chasing and retrieving just as much as Timba.  In fact, Toby once fetched a toy mouse and brought it back to me a record number of 8 times, no feat that my A.D.D. Timba has yet to perform!  Nothing is so endearing as to feel a little tap at my back by a paw or a dropped toy mouse or paper wad.  When I roll over and see the expectant look on one of my cats’ faces, I melt.  Then I pick it up and throw it and marvel at the oddity that they actually bring it back for more throws!

You Don’t Have To Declaw Cats To Deter Damage!

Many people don’t have cats or get rid of them because of the damage cats do to furniture and fabrics with their nails.  If they can afford to declaw their cat, they will, and contrary to human assumption, declawing is painful and can hinder a cat and even alter its behavior.  No need to get into it, but here is one of many quick articles you can google:

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/declawing.html.

The best alternative to damage is to train your cat, preferably from a young age, to use appropriate scratch boards and posts.  Refresh them with catnip from time to time to re-interest them in using these things.  Growing up, I learned that you can clip a dog’s nails, but I’d never heard of clipping a cat’s nails.  Lo and behold, this is another thing which is best done since a young age.  However, as with anything, a cat can learn to adjust to it.  I had a friend who taught me how to clip my cats’ nails, and now that I can do it on my own I absolutely love it. My cats are so good, minus an occasionally growl from Mr. Sensitive Back Feet, aka Timba.  It really helps lessen unintentional scratches to me and any that may occur when they play with each other.

Cats Are Better In Numbers!

One cat can be plenty for a person or a family.  They can be just as lovable as they would be if you had more than one cat.  However, the fun factor gets a serious boost when you have more than one cat.  At one point, I lived with 8 cats between my roommate and myself.  That was a period of a lot of laughter and a lot of learning about cat nature.  Since then, I now live by myself with my two cats, who provide just as much fun and learning as did 8.  When cats interact with each other we get to observe more of their antics that may not play out in a single cat.  Another benefit of more than one cat is the emotional and physical health of your cats. Having a playmate and companion seems to make for a happier cat.  Not that solitude is bad, but just like us, they are social creatures.  They also exercise more, and while it may mean more trouble (toppled items from romping kitties) it is totally worth it to have happy healthy cats whose frolicking often evokes laughter.

Cats Are Not Disposable!

Growing up I had numerous cats, but very few until a ripe old age.  We moved somewhat frequently, and we didn’t have a lot of money.  Mostly the moving factor was what decided a cat’s next living arrangement.  To a kid, it’s sad, but once it happens often enough it just seems the status quo: animals aren’t humans and sometimes you have to get rid of them.

Not a lesson I adhere to anymore.  Yes, with 8 cats a few years ago, some of them were mine and I found them new homes.  While a season of irresponsibility by taking on too many cats was not good, it did teach me about love, commitment, stewardship, and the priceless, invaluable lives wrapped up in whiskers, fur, and paws.  They aren’t just animals or pets.  They aren’t for our purposes.  They are created by God for his delight, and we get the gift of being their stewards.  I love how the pet-mom and pet-dad concept is growing in America and other countries.  More and more people are calling animals their family or their fur babies.  The bond is irreplaceable, as are the creatures with whom we bond.  Having learned about them through life, growing in understanding and appreciation, I can now say there is nothing on earth that would ever cause me to dispose of my cats.  No new homes ever.  I am their forever home, their mom, their caretaker, their furless companion.  Nothing makes my heart happier than to see other people loving their cats (and dogs) in such a way.  I interact with various Facebook groups of Russian Blue and Flame Point owners, and people literally all over the world are loving their felines in ways that I can honestly say surely honors and reflects a loving Creator.

Getting Back To The Good

Remember the blanket I referenced a few posts ago … the soft $7 throw blanket that screams “me” that has cats lounging in front of a bookshelf?  Well, said blanket is of course the property of my two cats.  While all new things entered into a home (from groceries to shopping items to the bags and boxes they came in) are fair game for immediate cat inspection, it is anything soft, fuzzy, and warm which becomes the express object of and sole use for cats.  I may as well have bought it for them rather than for me, because their day and night nap spot at the end of the bed is on this folded up heavenly cloth.

If some of you know me, or have read my early posts, you know that I once lived in a 6 – 8 cat home with a friend.  Grace was the oldest, at 5 years of age, and was the designated kneader of the cat clan.  Having moved to a new location with my two cats, eventually Toby fell into the position of household kneader.  To be honest, I’ve only witnessed kittens and middle to older aged cats knead.  It’s as though the first few years of life are so busy living cat life that the early days of meditative flexing of the paws went forgone and lie dormant.  So at age 2 to 2 and a half, Toby has remembered this luxury of long ago and several times a day finds himself zoning out on my side while giving my cushioned tummy a thankfully-light-on-the-claws massage.

I have yet to see Timba reach back into his youth and display this precious feline behavior.  Until now.  Until the uber soft throw from Walmart.  For the past week I have caught him pawing at the blanket in a unique way.  He is tentative and hesitant, like a wobbly baby taking first steps, or someone trying to walk for the first time after a long period of injury induced muscle atrophy.  It is the cutest thing.  There is a look in his eyes, an expression on his face, that is searching.  Little kitty wheels of memory spin furiously and if he could talk I know he’d be saying “I know there’s something I’m supposed to do with these paws.  Something I used to do a long time ago, but I can’t quite remember. I know it was good for sure, but, hmmm… kind of nice when I flex and squeeze on this squishy thing.”

Yes, Timba is in the beginning stages, at the age of 1 year, of remembering days gone by.  His blissful youth spent kneading his warm fuzzy mama and drinking the milk that only mama made best, are starting to resurface.  He hasn’t fully engaged in kneading yet, which is fine by me.  His rediscovery is so comical and endearing that I hope he continues to paw cutely at the blanket with that perplexed expression on his face for awhile.  Also, while he is my youngest, he is definitely the biggest.  He is a big boy indeed, and him on my side digging those weighted paws into my stomach and ribs would be more like a brutal beating than a sweet massage.

The thing I love about the act of kneading is that it takes a cat back to the good old days.  They zone out and sometimes drool in this blissful state of nostalgia and enter a state of complete comfort and relaxation.  I think it’s good to get back to the good.  People do it all the time when they reflect on good days gone by.  Remembering people and experiences of the past bring our hearts warmth and affection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if pleasant reminiscing has the same biological effect as exercise does with its endorphins.

So the moral of the story is, go ahead and get your blankey, cuddle up on it, and flex your paws in remembrance of something good in your past.  There’s so much going on in life, both good and bad, that we forget the wealth of good tucked away in the far corners of our mind.  Bring a few treasures out this week and let them love on you and give you good cheer as you navigate the now.  Take it from a cat, it is definitely a worthwhile exercise.

What To Do When You’re Unemployed

Well the obvious thing is look for a job! That I have been doing, though I confess I gave myself two weeks of partial searching and partial relaxing. It’s starting to feel like crunch time though because how long can severance pay last?

In the meantime, I am surprisingly, and I mean surprisingly not as stressed as I should be. Wherever the case of “freak out”s have gone to, they can surely stay there. I am enjoying a mostly unknotted stomach and longer fingernails unscathed by nervous biting.

So my answer is to chill and live life.  Where would worrying get me? The days will pass, interviews will be or not be, regardless of how I spend the non-searching part of my days.  Maybe this is a little gift from God: time to sleep in, oddly non-humid weather, time at the pool, and lots and lots of books.

Oh the goodness of pummeling through suspense after suspense. Currently I have been nosediving into Dennis Lehane’s private investigator series. Let me share the good news with those of you who enjoy mystery/PI/crime fictions: Lehane is a powerhouse writer.  Ever seen the movies Mystic River, Shutter Island, or Gone Baby Gone? He wrote the books.  And the Kenzie/Gennaro PI series is kick butt awesome, my new favorite series. Suffice it to say Kitty Mama highly recommends the series and Lehane’s other books.

So what have I been doing while unemployed other than searching, pooling, sleeping, or reading?  Why seeing new sides to my cats of course.  With more time home I am able to see the endearing things, like Timba’s little nudge of the paw.  Whether sitting or lying down for a while, Timba will eventually join me, usually in front of me on the bed, and stick a paw out and tap me, as if to say “hey, ‘sup” or “I’m here”, or “how ’bout some pets?” Too, too cute.  The first time I noticed this I wanted to scoop him out of his comfortable position and squeeze the snoogins out of him. He’s the laid back affectionate cat, whereas Toby is the climb-up-your-chest, hard head-nudging-for-affection type of cat.

Even as I sit here typing this, I see a quirk of Toby’s.  He is dipping his paw into a glass of water, then licking his paw.  He’s my sophisticated drinker, a hardcore fan of the bathroom sink drizzle.  Yes, sometimes I sit in the bathroom longer than need be just so Toby gets his ‘fresh from the tap’ fix.

I’ve also witnessed both of their playfulness on a grander scale with my extended time at home.  Generally I give cat nip to bring out the fun, but they are quite capable of kitty antics without it.  Toby, while older, is smaller.  Toby, if you’ve read early posts in my blog, was harassed to the nine by tiny kitten Timba.  Now that Timba’s bigger, and a much more fair and less aggressive playmate, it is the most hysterical thing to watch my “little guy” (Toby) beat up my “big boy” (Timba).

Timba got the smack down last night.  There are seven or eight piles of white fur littering the carpet as evidence.  Toby was like Jordan going airborne and tumbling into Timba, who cowed down in the “ears back, eyes locked” kitty standoff I find so amusing.  Cats are so in tune with the most minute of bodily cues, and I love to sit and study it to try to peg the moment when one is going to make a move.

At any rate, the romping, the tackling, the paw-egg-it-on-ing, the airborne flips and jumps all serve to make me laugh and make my heart leap with gladness and adoration for my two cats.  What an incredible gift.  What an amazing creature God has made.  I honestly think that living with my two boys is a large part of why I’m not so stressed while unemployed.  Animals really are therapeutic.  In ways I cannot see, their presence and personalities have unwound the tightly bound cords of my inner self.  I’m relaxed, more easy-going, I laugh more, and I appreciate more.  What more could a girl want?

Oh, a job! 🙂

Beyond The Threshold of Fear Is A Better Life

Life with cats is wonderful, from laughter at their quirks and antics, to a tendered blooming heart at their sweetness. But one thing I find odd is the parallels that sometimes occur. It takes some introspective thought to see these sometimes, but maybe I see them more because I’m thoughtful and observant, quite like a cat.

So the most amazing thing happened here in Toby and Timba land. After 5 months of living in our new apartment, fearful Toby ventured out of my bedroom. The night before I decided to take him out and close my bedroom door. I placed the food and water bowls, along with the pop-up tunnel and cube configuration, into the hall area which for 5 months has been the Hall of Doom to Toby. He wasn’t out for long, and he stayed primarily by my door, crouched as low to the ground and as close to the door that he could get. After about 30 minutes I just gave up and opened the door and into the bedroom he fled.

Was it this exercise of forced confrontation, or was it the discouragement that must have seeped off of me when I let him back in to his personal chosen confines? I don’t know, but yesterday evening a loud bang against the bathroom door surely wasn’t just Timba. Lately Toby has come far enough out of my room for a little chase fest with Timba. Usually he scurries right back into the bedroom. But alas, too far from the door to close it, in walked Timba as usual. Why do cats feel the need to be with us in our ‘litter box’?

Suddenly, I see a grey head peep around the door frame, checking anxiously to and fro for danger danger danger, then in walks Toby to inspect the bathroom. Yay for a total breakthrough. Even better: later that evening Toby came out into the living room all on his own, and while crouched low to the ground, lean and long with outstretched neck, he indeed explored the entire area. He has been out of the room now all day today, finally living in the courage that cats are made to live in, and finally comfortable that this whole place is his whole home.

I,too, have been forced to confront my fears of the great unknown. I found out last Friday that my outsourced company is downsizing, so my position will be ending. While I will get one month of severance pay, the great unknown is still scary. There are interviews to be had, following devoted searches, cover letters, and postings of my resume. I have a few leads, and I have surprisingly little of the anxiety that I may typically have had in other seasons of life.

It is the shove that put me where I had previously been wanting to go on my own: into a position with better income and a better workplace culture. I love my 2 fellow outsourced employees, but for many months now we have been on separate floors and I am alone, virtually, on the floor with all of the folks who work and act like family. For some reason, it is just how they are: consciously or subconsciously keeping the outsourced outsider out of the inner loop. The isolation, frankly, has been a daily dying to me. I am sociable by nature – personable, connecting, highly valuing of people and relationships.

So thank God for that little shove. Thank God that Toby responded to his own little shove. Together we each venture out into places more exciting, more spacious and liberal and relationally healthy. I know Toby will thrive more, because his courage, confidence, and sense of ownership will increase as he settles into the Great Beyond. And I am only hoping (hoping and hoping) that my own Great Beyond carries an income that will not only relieve the years of stress and struggle, but allows me to have those few but very essential things for my own relief and happiness. There are cat trees and djembes and steel drums to be bought, there are drum workshops and maybe even guitar lessons to be had. There is the vet fund to be created, and aging parents to be helped. And for once in about 5 years, there is a Christmas in which I might actually be able to buy my friends and family some presents.

What’s In A Name

From the beginning of time humans have named all people, places, and things.  Nothing that exists is without a name.  The history of names might be an interesting search some day, but I’m more interested right now in why things are named as they are.

Like street names, or town names.  I once came across a book that was called, something to the effect of “Odd Towns of Kentucky.”  My two favorite names were Hell Creek, KY and it’s more fate-cementing, ominous brother town of Hell For Certain Creek, KY (LOL).  I would love to hear the story behind that!

Maybe a list of strange and bizarre town and city names would make for a hilarious writing prompt (hint hint wink wink).

What about nicknames – the shortened, the quirky, the endearing and enduring.  I wonder who came up with Mickey D’s for McDonalds, or Wally World for Wal-Mart? These have spread like wildfire and are probably used all over the U.S. from Likely, CA to Lovely, KY.

Nicknames, however, are generally terms of endearment used to express affection and love towards people rather than places.  There are two forms of nicknames, my favorite being the ones we call “pet names” 😉

A “pet name” is technically called a hypocorism.  It is a name used between people in love or sharing a close emotional bond.  I’m quite glad the word “hypocorism” has been nicknamed “pet names”.  I can’t imagine flattering my loved ones with something that sounds like a tumorous-growth-in-the-neck condition.

Another form of nicknames is called a “diminutive”, which is the shortened version of a longer name, again mostly used with people (Dave from David, Susan from Susannah, Mike from Michael, Dick from Richard …)

Say what?

Those poor Richards 😦

I use both diminutive and pet names for my beloved babies. Toby is actually Tobias and Timba is Timbavati.  My pages above discuss how I came to name them in greater depth. However, as time goes by I seem to be coming up with new nicknames to call my pets.

One day Toby Tuesday popped out of my mouth.  Obviously it was a Tuesday.  But it sounded cute and fun, and was the start of a short stint of Toby Tuesdays (celebration of Toby on his own special day of the week).

Mostly though I call Toby “Toby Bear” because he was like a teddy bear snuggled in my arms every night for bedtime.  The other nickname that’s evolved for Toby is Mr. Question Mark.  He always has his tail postured like a question mark, which according to animal behaviorists is suggestive of a playful mood. He greets me this way every day after work, hopping on my bed for his daily “me and mom” time.

Being number two in line of adoption, Timba’s nicknames  are somewhat offshoots of Toby’s.  One day I found myself calling him Honey Bear, due to his coloration and the whole teddy bear ‘sleep with me at night’ concept.  I love love love to call him Honey Bear, so much that he probably thinks it’s his real name by now.

Like Toby, Timba’s other main nickname came from a quirky aspect of his body.  I sometimes call him Mr. Whisker.  According to an article I once read on www.catster.com, whiskers not only function as spacial detectors for cats, but they also convey certain emotional states.

If a cat’s whiskers are smoothed back, they are perhaps submissive, fearful, or even relaxed.  If the whiskers are pointing forward, they are indicative of interest and curiosity.  After reading the article, I watched Timba’s whiskers, and sure enough, they stand out and forward when he is psyched and interested in something.  Those long white curiosities move all the time now that I’m in tune with it.

And last but not least, both of my boys get called the ever popular Boo Boo.  It’s just too fun not to use.  My heart swells stupidly thinking about using these names.  It makes me wish I were home with my little gifts from God calling them silly affectionate names rather than writing about them.

As names and nicknames are so interesting, please feel free to leave a comment describing your favorite “pet names” for your animals.  Also, here’s a link to odd names not just from Kentucky, but all states.  Very amusing as well 🙂

http://www.af4k.com/townname.htm

Five Reasons I Love Cats

Anyone who loves cats could think of an enormous list as to why they are so lovable. Cat nature + cat quirks + cat individuality = a whole lot to love and enjoy.  As I sit here writing this, Timba is faithfully propped in front of me, his warm body a barrier between my chest and the keyboard.  He does this everyday, and is now starting to do this with my new roommate.  So I’ll kick this post off with reason number one.

  1. Cats are constant companions:  Wherever you are, there they will be. The kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom.  On a couch, in a chair, at the computer. Making breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Always when you’re opening a can of tuna, and always when you’re reading a book.  I love that Toby and Timba sleep with me every night, alternating who gets the best spot.  I laugh when they follow me to the bathroom to strut all over the place, grab a drink at the tub, or chase the TP when I drop it.  If  I close the bathroom door they still need to be with me, even if it’s only their nose and whiskers or their disembodied paw under the crack.  And when I am outside on the patio, at least one of my cats sits bewildered at the glass door wondering why he can’t reach me.
  2. Cats know how to “be”:  Many years ago I had an epiphany that I have since embraced, and occasionally must remind myself about. We scurry about life always doing things.  When we’re not doing things, we’re either worrying about doing things or planning about doing things.  One day I realized that “doing” is not really our primary function in life.  If it were, we’d be called “human doings.”  Instead, we are called “human beings.” To me this is a phenomenal life shaping concept. My greatest joys revolve around the simplicity of being.  Just being with a friend fills my heart, the beauty of enjoying each other’s presence and interaction without the distraction of task or entertainment.  My best relationships are those that I spend much of our time together just being. Cats are pretty much the same.  They do like to play, but the majority of their time is spent sitting, lying, or sleeping with each other or their humans.  They know how to enjoy being by themselves and with others. Long before I ever thought about “being”, cats had it down to a tee.
  3. Cats have no agenda:  Cats have a relaxed posture towards life.  They are easy-going and take life in stride one day at a time .  When a cat wakes up, there is no agenda for the day.  Whatever comes a cat’s way is what a cat does. Spontaneity reigns over structure and routine, which thankfully isn’t detrimental for them.  Unlike people, cats also don’t dictate matters or relationships.  They have no pet peeves, pedestals or soap boxes. They aren’t agenda focused, whereas people sometimes push their agendas so much that they leave little room for anything or anyone else.  I’d rather drop agendas and not miss out on life, love and happiness.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have beliefs and convictions, or that I’m not passionate about certain issues.  It just means that I’m not an agenda advocate, placing a topic, issue, or circumstance above the value of the lives in front of me.
  4. Cats love pleasure:  There’s probably not a being or creature on earth that doesn’t love pleasure.  It’s a God-given gift that our brains were wired to derive pleasure from a variety of senses.  What I like about cats, however, is that they interact with what gives pleasure.  Pleasure is a reciprocal thing with cats.  When you pet them they bump and lean into your hand, they rub your leg, or whatever object is in your hand.  Books are a favorite for the cats that I’ve had.  You would think that the sharp corner of a book was the most divine sensation ever according to my cats.  Even paperbacks seem luscious and satisfying.  Everywhere they go they find something to rub against for the sheer pleasure of it.  Yes, they are marking their scent, but much of this is done to explore and experience new textures and sensations.  Although they use their whole bodies in search of delight, cats most often use the sides of their face.  I absolutely love to cup a cat’s face in my hands and rub their fur backward, stretching their skin in the process. Every single cat I do this to loves it, and every one of them looks ten times cuter.  I can’t say the same for humans, and if I tried this on people I’m sure I’d find myself in a sterile padded room experiencing a cat’s worst nightmare: sensory deprivation.
  5. Cats bring laughter & healing:  All cats are funny, and none are more comical than when they are kittens.  I love to raise a cat from kittenhood to get the most out of their antics and histrionics.  I also love seeing those same things resurface later on in a cat’s life, because I love the reminder of youth.  There are hordes of toys on the market to help our feline friends remain frisky, entertaining us even as they are entertained.  But it’s not necessarily the toys.  It’s how cats respond to toys, or anything in their environment.  Timba is cheap when it comes to thrills.  His favorite toy is a paper wad, which he fetches like a dog.  He also pants like a dog, which gets me rolling.  A quirk about Toby is how he runs ahead of me in anticipation of being petted in my bedroom.  The way he darts his scrawny little body with his tail straight in the air, curved at the tip like a question mark, tugs on my heart-strings and tickles my funny bone. I have to laugh out loud as I imagine his thoughts in the process: “Run ahead of her, stop, wait.  Look to see if she’s coming.  Run ahead of her, stop, wait.  Look to see if she’s coming.” I laugh so much with cats in my life.  If laughter is the best medicine, I am definitely on the road to wellness.  I have read several articles on how the companionship of cats is therapeutic.  I’ve also read articles that purring is speculated to stimulate bone growth and getting well, which is why cats sometimes purr when they’re sick.  I have often thought about the soothing effect of petting a purring feline, and I think the speculators may be on to something.  Whatever it is, my life and my outlook on life has been enriched because of cats.