My Two Cats Reached A Milestone

Whew! I got a little WordPress “trophy” in my inbox stating that My Two Cats has reached 100 follows. Whew! Why do I “whew?” Because it’s been a year and four months, and that seems like a small number for that stretch of time. But let me say, it’s actually a large number. I had blogged years before with only 1 follower and that person was my roommate! I gave it up because it felt so invalidating and I didn’t know how to attract readers. Maybe I still don’t.  Maybe Toby and Timba are my little magnets to gain the 100 of you who have so kindly bestowed upon me a little click of your mouse in the upper left hand side, or who have tolerated email messages from that crazy cat lady blogger.

So if my cats could talk, they’d be saying with me a big hearty Thank You! I have no idea how long it takes to build a followership and I can only hope that those of you who follow My Two Cats not only read posts but enjoy them.  That is the whole point. It may be “all about the paws baby”, but the heart of this blog is to reach people on some level and to connect with them.  To make people smile, laugh, resonate with antics, stories, and personal/life content.  I also hope that little “trophy” is something each of you have seen, no matter the number it applauds, because it lets you know, as it does me, that something is right. Somehow you and I have not only become writers who are read, but writers who are actually enjoyed by other human beings.

So hats off to you, my first 100! Hopefully when I reach another 100 and write another little celebration post you can stick your tongue out and say “ha ha, we were the first!”

I regard cats as one of the great joys in the world. I see them as a gift of highest order.” – Trisha McCagh

Animals are the bridge between us and the beauty of all that is natural. They show us what’s missing in our lives, and how to love ourselves more completely and unconditionally. They connect us back to who we are, and to the purpose of why we’re here.” – Trisha McCagh, Stories from the Animal Whisperer: What Your Pet Is Thinking and Trying to Tell You

 

Fear and Love

Probably one of the most popular or recognized quotes on fear is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I have no idea in what context Roosevelt coined this phrase, but I must say, I have to disagree.

Fear is not the only thing to fear. There are plenty of things to fear in life and for good cause, lest we find ourselves in a state whose fearsome unknown certainty has plagued mankind since the beginning: dead.

It’s only natural to fear certain things, and of course there are learned fears as well – socially fashioned fears that were it not for social perceptions, we’d have no fear of such things. Rather than assert that fear is the only true fear, we should focus on ways to cope with and overcome our natural and legitimate fears. Blindly ignoring them just won’t do. You might have more peace if you’re not a fear dweller, but turn a new corner in life and BAM, you run into something that makes your heart fall rapidly to its knees.

This is how my poor Toby Bear still lives. In fear of the dreadful corners. Around the corner from my open bedroom door is a loud air condition, and those awful corners hide what lurks beyond. He still remains, after 4 entire months at my new apartment, bound to my bedroom despite the open door policy I implement every day.

My precious little Toby is indeed a fraidy-cat. I can’t blame him. Watching Cat Daddy and learning to read my cat’s cues helps me to understand where his fear comes from. I have some ways to help him get past the Big Bad Wall Monster outside my bedroom door, the main one being to switch the location of his food. At some point, he’ll have to come out.

I’ve tried the oh-so-dangerous carry-him-out method (several times actually), and well, were I not strong and he not small, I’d be in a world of hurt with cat scratch fever. And after I set his rigid little body down on the floor he either stays flat like a wounded pancake kitty or darts under the couch to remain there for days or until I heft it forward and scoop his fear-flattened furry self into my arms.

So for the meantime, I’m trusting him to do it in his timing, and that’s ok. Pre-mature or forced encounters with fears can do more harm than good.

I learned the other day, though, that Toby is not the only fraidy-cat in the house. I’m not referring to Timba, who named after the white lions of Timbavati South Africa, is filled with courage and curiosity to mostly healthy degrees. Nope, I am the other fraidy-cat. I generally don’t think about fears until I encounter them, and rarely do I encounter a truly fearful thing.

However, I had the heart-drop-to-its-knees reaction this past weekend when my roommate and I were returning from an outing. She opened the door and Timba strolled casually between her legs and made it across the threshold. His whole body was outside and there went my heart! Thank God he was chilled and laid back, that he didn’t dart for the adventurous Great Beyond he stares at all day through the sliding glass door. And thank God no bird or rabbit happened to catch his eye in that pivotal moment. I uttered a wordless vocalization and my roommate scooped him indoors.

Safe.

Whew.

Wow.

I can’t imagine my heart rate and adrenaline rush if he’d actually run off. I can’t imagine my Timba, whose precious being is entwined with my heart, being lost or hurt or worse. I am a fraidy-cat when it comes to my cats. I don’t dwell on the what-ifs, but the occasional scare flits through my mind. It’s a way of telling me to be prepared, and slowly I’m taking action. Eventually I will probably get pet insurance, and soon, and very soon, Mr. Timba is going to get micro-chipped.

In fact, May is micro-chip your pet month, so I’m hoping for a discount, perhaps this weekend. And Toby’s chip needs to be updated to the new address. So fear did serve a little bit of good. It was a motivator to get done what needs to be done.

John Lennon is quoted as saying “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.” Now this is a fear quote I experience as truth. My love for my cats motivates me, and so does my fear of any harm or loss regarding them. Love and fear seem intertwined. To experience love is to experience fear, and yet oddly, love overcomes fear on many occasions. I am motivated by them both, but mostly by love. Everyday is filled with love on some level. Fear can’t live when love is all around. It just jumps out every now and then, unwittingly aiding us to realize in greater measures just how wonderful and precious those things and people in our lives really are.

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.

Hard Day, Soft Kitty

I could do without days like today. I have a thyroid condition that every now and then demands a medicine adjustment in order to keep me from slipping into a coma. Not literally, of course, but oh how tired I feel. It drags me down in the daytime, and unfortunately that corresponds with my working hours. Turns out a few people would rather not  tap me on the shoulder and find out why I was sawing logs in front of a computer the past two days. Instead they relayed this juicy observation to a supervisor, who then relayed it to my supervisor. Ugh.

Enter a phone call today from my supervisor. Thank God she values me as an employee and figured it was medically related.  Enter signing a “verbal counseling form”, and enter a “p.s.” in an email that the onsite supervisor would like my supervisor to pass on to me that sneakers aren’t allowed during jeans week for the holidays, only jeans. I had no idea any supervisor recognized what shoes I wear. I hardly think anyone recognizes my face. You know, truly recognize. Like acceptance, acknowledgement, not mere visual recognition.

Welcome to the life of an outsourced employee. You are an outsider if you are outsourced. You aren’t part of the workplace culture, despite the “hellos” and “how are yous” that are likely just obligatory as you pass in the hall to the bathroom or break room.  It’s hard being an “unknown” in a place where people seem to know each other to the point of having relationships outside of the workplace.

It makes me think of quotes from the German theologian Jurgen Moltmann, or from Mother Teresa, which basically state that acceptance is the air we breath and without it we wither and fade, that indifference is society’s greatest impoverishment and not poverty itself.

But these difficult things I cannot change. I can’t look pretty, I can’t lose weight fast enough, I can’t afford snazzy, fashionable professional attire to be whatever it is that people are drawn to enough to welcome one into the inner circle.  I can change them no more than I can change the unknown metabolic imbalance tugging like a pit bull at the cords of my consciousness despite a hefty 3-cup-a-day coffee regimen, which by the way would normally have me twitching like an alleyway geeker waiting in line to buy the next fix.

So once I get home, feeling a greater exhaustion born of the stress of having my job placed in a more precarious situation, I sit down at the computer and seek some kind of reprieve from the hardness of not just a day, but a week, a month, a year, three to four years. Hardness all around, rocks and hard places, jagged little edges of piercing circumstances that I have to dance around, without sneakers mind you. Sneakers are a no-no.

Enter soft kitty, who daily has been the barrier between me and a keyboard since living in my temporary apartment. Warm cuddle bug Timba curls up against my chest and rests. His soft fur, warm body, and moderate motor humming away soothe and comfort me. His unconditional affection for me, his desire to be close and near and intimate semi-wash away the hardness and coldness of circumstance and indifference.

It reminds me of quotes from Jesus … “come to me and I will give you rest, all you who are weary and heavy laden.” It reminds me of Jesus himself sleeping through a hurricane strength storm, sawing his own logs on a pillow while his disciple pals are freaking out on the deck above. I wonder if Jesus snored? Was it an imperfection from which he was spared, or was it the mother of all snores being that he was also fully God? I’m thinking the former, but then again, I doubt people would bother recording the magnitude of a Jesus snore seeing as he had so many more worthy things to be recorded. “Cut me some slack, guys, when I’m gone and you’re writing all this down.  Just, uh, tell them that it was the stone rolling away. Remember that, stone rolling away, not snoring to the break of day. K?”

With that little rhetorical question out there, it’s time for me to find my own pillow. It’s not a big storm outside, but the drizzle saps me nonetheless. At least I have my two soft kitties to buffer the day and accept me while I read for a little while.