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.

 

The Sweetness of Closeness

I must have really awesome feet, because the tootsies are Timba’s latest go-to spot. He used to sleep on the pillow beside me by my head, but for some reason he’s taken a fancy to the feet. He’s never done this before, and I’m curious about the switch up. Cats are enigmas though, so I basically better give up the motive analysis as far as that is concerned. I can only imagine that his motive is to be close, but still, my feet? It’s not like my toes have superior chin rubbing skills, and it’s not like the bony ankle area is the most comfortable spot to rest his face. I guess I shall have to ever wonder and be content with the sweetness of him being close.

The part I do wonder about, however, is the way it makes me feel when Timba does his little one-turn ritual before settling his warm body against my feet and stretching his chin or a paw across them. It warms my heart, perhaps more so than any other cuddling besides against or in the crook of my legs.  What is it about feet that is so touching and intimate? They’re feet! They’re often dirty or stinky (which mine aren’t, they are cozy and rosy according to Timba), and they are among the basest of body parts, literally and figuratively (I’m thinking foot in mouth syndrome here).

In early Christian tradition as well as cultures in that era, foot washing was practiced as a way to humbly serve guests. Sandals were the ‘in thing’ and dirt was in abundance, so it was an honoring gesture to offer water to a guest, have a servant do the deed, or more so to be the one to tend to the guest. In earlier Chinese culture, though not many generations away, foot binding was practiced.  If you’re not aware of this, than bite your lip in anticipation of this mental image: from an early age Chinese girls had their feet broken and bound, then broken and rebound, repeating the process to inhibit the foot’s growth so that the desired approximate 4 inches would remain her foot size for life.  Due to the stench of rot from the binding, perfumes were applied.  The scent of exotic perfume combined with the delicate manner of walking with malformed feet was considered erotic to men and highly desirable.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have my feet washed no matter how humbling that may be. And humbling it is, to have someone care for your feet. It’s amazing how many women are self-conscious or dissatisfied with their feet. Again I say, they’re feet! Maybe it’s intimate because it is humble? The sense that someone would touch your base and possibly smelly feet in such a tender or loving manner. That someone would care enough about you to figuratively stoop to the ground and humbly help you or declare their affection for you.

Maybe that’s what Timba is doing. In two years he’s never cuddled with my feet.  Maybe his sense of affection and loyalty has grown to that point. Or maybe I’m grasping at straws because it’s not like a cat can conceptualize the ‘humble factor’ of feet! Either way, it’s incredibly sweet, not to mention warm.  And a bit risky. He’s mellowing with age and growing in sweetness, but he still has the capacity to dole out a love bite now and then. And controlling my response to the tender tootsies having a sudden sharp pain would be a feat difficult to control.  A reflexive maneuver sending dear kitty flying might make him less prone to cuddle my feet in the future, and I’d hate to miss out on the sweetness of his closeness.

 

Till Death Due Us Part

On the wings of the WordPress class awhile back I find myself doing the exact opposite of the class goals: posting infrequently and irregularly. I really respect those of you who commit to regular blogging regardless of what life brings your way. If you’ve read My Two Cats recently, you’ve seen that unemployment has had my number and has been a source of irregular posting. I tried to change it, and right when it was taking a turn for the better, life happened again. Or rather, death.

My stepdad passed away in mid-May, and writing became insignificant in the light of that. Instead, I walked through grief with my mother and reflected on the ‘writing’ of the life I’d known for 22 years; on a marriage that lasted until ‘death due us part.’ It is a rare thing these days – commitment.  Relationships of any kind are under attack by culture. We’re a throw-away society.  We upgrade things and upgrade people. We downgrade people. We remove them from our lives because we’ve succumbed to the rhetoric of positivity.  If they can’t serve the purpose of fluffing our ‘happy place’ pillow, if they make us uncomfortable by expressing the hardness of what they may be going through, then we cut loose the strings.

People miss out on people that way.  People miss out on the richness of life and getting to really know someone. If they only knew  how much they are short-changing themselves because of their premature disconnect. Life is messy and so are people. But I say ‘look longer’.  ‘Dig deeper’.  You don’t stand in a museum and hastily move from picture to picture. You don’t find gold by scratching the surface of the dirt. And you get neither the life transformation nor the treasure if you walk away too early.  Commitment, perseverance, determination … these are what yield the true nature of a thing, the obscured value.

I guess that’s why I love my cats so much.  I’ve taken the time to observe them. I’ve persevered through Timba’s terrible biting phase when most people would’ve tossed him to the shelter. He is my cat ‘soul mate’ now, and I would’ve missed out on the gift of who he is had I reacted the way society shapes us to react. I also could have missed out on the gift of Toby. I thought of getting rid of him due to Timba’s early harassment phase.  I thought Toby was so lovable he’d get a great home, but Timba such a hellion that he’d die in a shelter. I honestly considered keeping the difficult cat to spare him, and painfully parting with the well-behaved cat to likewise spare him. But I stuck that out as well, and for over a year now they have become the best of pals and would grieve the loss of each other probably as much as the loss of me.

Commitment. It doesn’t make me cringe. It makes me smile, because it is worth it. I smile that I’ll have my cats until death do us part. I smile that my mother had her husband until then. I hope you smile at the ones in your life you’ve committed to keeping around for the long haul. And I hope that reading this in some way strengthens your own sense of ’till death due us part’, whatever your connections and relationships may be.

Cats Never ‘Get Old’

It’s Easter and I find what shouldn’t be happening on a day like today actually happening.  Easter is a fun day for some and a spiritually refreshing day for others, but regardless of either I find myself absolutely winded.  I don’t mean physically. I tend to be like my cats in this area and stick to a fairly sedentary lifestyle. I’m just bushed and drained in a way I can’t define.  Maybe Toby or Timba squished the oomph out of me too much while I was sleeping last night and it’s trickling down to deeper levels. Maybe forces unknown are interfering with me experiencing this fun and joyful holiday.

Either way I find myself tired and not ready to tackle the week, a sort of pre-Monday blues chords lazily making their way down the halls of my soul. It feels like another round of ‘things are getting old’ is about to hit.  Unemployment and fruitless efforts to find a job have lasted so much longer than I ever would have thought. I don’t want to look tomorrow. I don’t want to graze through endless results on websites and throw my energy and hope into filling out applications that will be tossed aside according to the norm so far. But I’m sick of the alternative.

So maybe I’m getting depressed … the sense of blah that overwhelms me and the tiresomeness of life’s daily grind and pleasures alike has cast their nets and snagged me good. I was even unable to fully engage with others tonight, and driving home I hit the fast forward button on my music a record number of times. Been there done that.  Same old song literally and figuratively. It’s a total sickness and I wish I could declare war on it, but the nature of this beast is to sap so thoroughly that the sense of defeat is good and ingrained.

I made it home but to flop almost immediately on my bed. With my cats.

Cats seem to never tire of the routine of daily life do they? Sleeping up to 18 hours a day never gets old.  Window watching, chasing toys and each other, jumping in and out of their one laundry basket, even being in the same room they need to be in for this life season of mine – none of it seems to get old to them. Greeting me every day never ages, never becomes boring and bereft of enthusiasm. Toby climbs up me every day, several times a day, and sighs that beautiful sigh of contentment as if it were new, as if it weren’t a drudgery he’s resigned himself to. And Timba gets on the bed and lumbers towards me, gently and slowly laying down near me, and sticks his paw out to touch me.

Things like these would get so old with people. That’s why marriages and relationships stagnate. What was once exciting and romantic loses it’s luster in the repetition. And yet, here is a repetition I surprisingly find not monotonous. This routine of my cats and with my cats is refreshing and sustaining. On good days it’s delightful and on bad days it’s comforting. I don’t know how I’d do life without them now. Hard seasons have had my number for years, and my two cats have been there with me in ways that people haven’t.  In softness and quietness, in playfulness and quirkiness, in waking or sleeping they are here with me.

Call me corny or a crazy cat lady, but they really are like best friends, like children.  They dwell in the part of my heart and soul where tiredness and drudgery cannot touch, where moods and circumstances and unknown forces cannot come in to steal the joy, peace, and comfort these simple little creatures impart.

I wonder if other people experience this with their pets? I hope so. Life can be a real boogar sometimes, and the best of inner and outer resources can fall short of provision in times of need.

So to Monday and another week of looking for a job I say “Bring it on. I may not have a set of boxing gloves to get back in the fight, but I do have two sets of paws.”

Cats Mimic Their Owners

Type in the phrase “do cats (or pets) reflect their owners’ personalities” and you’ll get a number of articles that discuss that yes, they do.  I think about this every now and then when I catch my cats doing something that reminds me of myself.  For example, I like music and particularly rhythm.  One day I tuned in to Toby’s water drinking rhythm and found that it wasn’t the typical metronome of a lap. Nope. Toby was licking the water in triplets, which if you aren’t familiar, are in a rhythmic timing that sounds just like the word.  Tap your leg steadily, and for each tap say the word “trip-l-et”.  That’s the rhythm Toby always drinks to, humorously more pronounced on the pulse, or beat 1.

Crazy!

Another quirky similarity I see is in Timba, who is younger than Toby by a year and a half. I got Timba as a kitten and he was all piss and vinegar, truly a feisty Flame Point who prowled the apartment like a lion searching out who or what he could ‘burn’ with his flaming personality. In essence, he was, and still is an instigator.  Sibling rivalry exists because of Timba.  That is strikingly resemblant to my own childhood. I used to instigate my older brother and then run to my mother when he retaliated, thereby getting him in trouble. I was a little snot in that regard, just as I’m sure that this is the way Toby heavily regarded Timba, and may sometimes still do.

Another odd thing I notice with Toby is that he has strict preference on his snuggling posture.  When he climbs up me to rest in my arms, he always does so facing the left. He never sits in my arms facing to the right.  If I put him that way he squirms and protests until I switch him around facing the left, eliciting his cute little sigh that say “yes, all is right with the world now.”  In a similar fashion, I only lay on my right side when I rest.  I can hardly be on my left side for more than a few minutes until all is not right with my world, so I flip to the right and do my own little sigh.

While all cats seem to have an appreciation for subtlety, Timba has a much more pronounced interest in it.  I also appreciate subtlety and notice minute details and changes in the people or environment around me.  Timba is highly attuned to the slightest of changes.  One of my favorite things to do with him is to take his fishing pole rod toy and move it painstakingly slowly across the bed.  I watch him stare at it, eyes dilated and ears back, ready to pounce. If I scoot it across the bed quickly he hardly gives it a second glance. But throw subtle movement in and he’s intrigued to the nth degree, just like me.

So what habits or personality traits of yours do you see your cats or dogs reflecting? Please feel free to comment and share! Research shows there is a correlation, and personal experience for me does as well.  I’d love to hear your own humorous stories of how your fur-babies “take after you”!

 

 

The Difference Between Cats and Humans is … Sleep

It’s 4:00 a.m. and I am awake, and after various attempts to cope with insomnia and tire myself (internet browsing, Facebook, etc) I have come to the conclusion that I envy my cats.  Toby and Timba are the only things still and asleep on my bed.  Meanwhile my eyes have tiny invisible toothpicks propping them open and I can’t decide whether my mind is racing faster or my restless legs.  I am out of my medication and dealing with all the fickle roadblocks of Obama(doesn’t)care in addition to the side effects of missing even one night’s dose.  Now I have to find a new doctor, but I’m taking that relatively in stride.  Such are the things we humans must deal with.

But not cats.  What blissful lives they live, that is, if they are in a loving home.  Free from worry and stress, regular meals, toys and perches and permanent retirement looking out sunny windows all day, plus love and affection.  And sleep.  Oh the sleep! They typically sleep 15 hours a day and some can sleep up to 20 hours in a 24 hour period.  Therefore, the fact that my cats will be waking up at kitty peak time around dawn bears no significance for them in terms of insomnia.  Whereas I will be dreadfully miserable when dawn hits in a few hours, knowing that the alarm is set for 8:00 a.m.

Perhaps around 7:00 a.m., when my body succumbs to a mere hour of teasing rest, I will wake suddenly to a game of chase, or Toby launching from my body, or Toby nudging my hands for a petting, or Timba walking on my body with the weight of three Tobys, his paws drilling into my pliable “I’m not fat, I’m fluffy” flesh.  Timba is my drill sergeant who faithfully yet indiscriminately employs his duties on a daily basis.  In the daytime, if I am lying on my bed, I can anticipate and thwart a painful crossing over my body (because of course cats are geometrically in tune – “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”).

But when I am asleep, when I am asleep, I usually do not know I’m being abused.  Instead I wake up the next day wondering why I’m sore in certain places, or where those small circular bruises came from.  And when I fail to clip their claws in a timely fashion, I have the added bonus of prick wounds here and there and in the oddest of places.  Unfortunately my new bed has somehow caused me to start lying on my back some nights, and these are the worst for kitty paw injuries.  My sides could handle it, from head to toe.  Tougher skin there?

At any rate, there’s nothing like an abdominal thrust in the morning to jump-start my day.  Maybe Toby’s launch or both of them walking on me is really an attempt to ensure proper diaphragm functioning.  Honestly though, the “oomph” of a whoosh of air that comes out of me as I wake to unmindful kitties isn’t what I’d call a befitting breathing boost. (Sigh) But I love them.  Despite my jealous streak regarding their luxurious lives and in spite of their interference with my beauty sleep, I pardon them and cuddle them and continue to write affectionately about them.  Dream on little kitties, the sweetest of sleeps I bid you.  But do you mind, maybe just once, to not flaunt your well-rested, energetic, rearing-to-go bodies and forego the pouncing on the padding of mommy’s tummy? Thanks 🙂

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/daily-prompt-green-eyed-lady/

 

Your Cat Can Do What You Can’t

So I’m laying on my bed, hand to mouth in contemplative mode.  Toby and Timba alternate laying on a blanket a few feet from me, on my hip, or curling in my arm.  In the process of turning around to find the proper “curl” position, I am met with what I call the “heinous catanus” (pronounced kuh-TAY-nus).  Yes, the heinous cat butt pose, which is never found in any other place than in a human face.  I’ve seen so much cat rear in my 3 years of having them that I care not to count.  I’d be interested in the stats though.  I’ve heard it said that God knows the number of hairs on our heads.  I’d like to ask him someday just how many times I’ve been exposed to a furry behind.  Hmm …

So in the midst of moving Timba’s rump out of the way, I began thinking on less philosophical and weighty issues and began to wonder about all the things that cats do to us but we can’t do to them.  I daresay putting our butt in their faces would have any effect.  I’ve actually done this when trying to sit down where a cat has taken my spot.  Toby has the good sense to move, but with Timba I have to half sit on him, wiggle my rear a bit and tell him to move.  It’s mostly a failed attempt and I have to pick his cozy large body up and laugh at his pip squeak of a meow.  He’s kind of like Mike Tyson – a big brutish body with a tiny high-pitched voice.  And sometimes he bites, though I haven’t lost an ear.  Whew!

So here are a few things I notice that your cat can do to you but you can’t do to them:

1) Your cat can inspect your food and sneak a bite or two.  It can sniff your drinks, paw them, topple them, and get hair in them.  You can’t do this because it would mean bending down, getting on your knees, and stooping your head towards the cat bowls, which a) is uncomfortable, b) would make you look nuts, and if caught, go to the “special” hospital, c) there’s already hair in the water, along with pieces of litter from tiny dipping paws, and d) it would in no way have the same effect as your cat’s inspection of your food – in other words, it wouldn’t bother your cat in the least, whereas it ticks you off to no end when dear kitty head bumps your bowl of chips and spills them all over the floor (personal experience, grrr!)

2) Your cat can dig its nails into you and flex its toes for pleasure while kneading and drooling, but you can’t dig your nails into it or flex your fingers into its fur because a) it’s pointless, b) it doesn’t feel good or make you zone out and drool (ice cream, music, or a back massage will suffice thank you), and c) your hand would become the target of a brutal attack resulting in severe infection whereby you would die and God forbid become cat food if no one were to visit you for a few days.  Whew! And eww

3) Your cat can make all manner of noises day or night.  It can play chase, bang into things, roll toy balls across a wooden or tiled floor, scratch a variety of surfaces, or paw the chirpy toys right as you’re drifting to sleep.  You can’t do this because a) who plays chase in the house when you can just watch the cats do it, b) it hurts to bang into things, c) making noises have no effect upon your cat except to pique its interest so it comes snooping to see what that delicious, new curious totally not annoying sound is and whether or not it can be pawed or mauled, and d) it doesn’t matter if you make chirpy noises to wake your cat, the little bugger sleeps 18 hours a day!

4) Your cat can sit on you, lay on you, walk on you, and spring from you.  You can’t do this to it because a) you’d squish your cat, b) he’d be severely injured or die, and c) that would so not be cool because it would be traumatically sad and cost you fines or imprisonment for animal cruelty.  No one would understand that you merely wanted to reciprocate your feline’s affections in a way that it would understand.  Stick to the “I love you” wink, which seems to be the only way to communicate on their level so far as I know. (Thanks for the tip, Jackson Galaxy!)

5)  And finally, your cat can lick the Netherlands and sniff his pal’s rear (and I mean a good, hearty, up close inhalation) and still receive facial kisses from you at some point during the day.  You can’t do this to your cat because a) it doesn’t care where you lick or who you sniff, and b) it’s not going to kiss you at any point during the day.  You might get a lick just to see if there’s any residual flavor of food, but the only puckered flesh aimed at your face you’re ever going to get from your cat is that “heinous catanus” mentioned above.

So pucker up folks, and accept that there are some things in this life that your cat can do to you but you can’t and probably don’t want to do to them!