My mother disliked cats. There are plenty of reasons to do so. They seem selfish, sometimes, creepy, they shed on and claw your furniture. Her reason for disliking the cats came from a different place, though. As a child she was visiting relatives, who had a cat. Rimka, my mom, was bored, so she decided to try and catch the animal. The cat would have none of that. She tried to run to the basement, but my mom found her there. She noticed that something was sticking out of the cat's behind. Now, this CAN happen! Rimka thought it was a gut coming out, and she attempted to push it back in with an eraser end of a pencil. The thing kept reappearing, even after Rimka repeated the operation quite a few times, and the cat was now yowling in earnest. An aunt came to check why the cat was in such distress. After a good look at what Rimka was doing, she took the poor kitty away from her. The kittens were stillborn, and Rimka didn't want anything to do with cats until almost the end of her life. What happened at the end of my mom's life, were the grandchildren. Hanah, as a Yiddish saying goes,"her mother's (mine) first hope", loved cats. It could be because she herself has a very catty personality. I never even thought of getting a cat. In my youth we had a few dogs: some of my most favorite and loving memories are of them. Who could love a cat after they had an experience of a dog's love? It turned out, I could. The first time I held a soft, silky kitten in my hands, I was won over. I think, if the infants were born with the fur on their bodies, they'd be loved even more!
Hanah chose a name for a kitten: Buttercup. When we first lifted the tiny thing onto the table and had a look at his behind, though, we understood that that name will not be appropriate for a boy-cat. Since the kitten wanted to do everything he shouldn't have, we called him Chicken Bone, or Chickie We took him home, where Hanah proceeded to toilet-train him by scratching his paws in the litter box. I was very impressed by how fast he got the idea. I was still quite nervous about the possibility of the kitten doing his business all over the apartment, so I insisted that Hana should repeat the lesson many times. The poor cat had to practice scratching so often that he's got a complex. His whole life, he'd get into the box, finish the deed and scratch 'til he drops. He would not only paw the litter but also the wall in front of him. He'd lean out of the box and give the floor a thorough scratching as well, all the while looking like he has no idea, why he is doing it. Like so many other things in their lives, the kids blame it on me.
Our kitten was gray, with black stripes and a white muzzle. He was fearless and fierce. What he wasn't is cuddly.We had to adjust our expectations of what he'd allow us to do with him. Everyone's arms and legs became covered in scratches, especially, the children's. After the first time giving the cat a bath, I designated that task to them. It was too embarrassing to walk around with a myriad scratches on my chest and face.
He obviously thought that we were too attached to the unnecessary things like curtains or a Christmas Tree, - or plants,- so he decided to take care of them for us. The apartment manager cried when she saw the tatters that used to be our curtains. The tiny animal once ate the whole rosebush that we bought for my mother. After eating a plant, he'd throw up on the carpet and bring me to that spot, to proudly show it off. He loved to tag after us when we left the apartment. Obviously, we couldn't take him every time. Hanah would put him in the farthest room, and we'd run. The little furry missile would be chasing us with all his might, running sideways, his tail bushed up in an all out effort to catch up. He was very talented, I thought, because when he was thirsty, he'd say in a very raspy voice: "Agua!" We got him from a Mexican family, so may be he learned something from them!
The children would often bring their pet to the grandparents' apartment in the same building as us, across the parking lot. At first, he was scared of a new place; he'd spend all his time lying down in the dirt in the Fichus plant. By then, my mother was very sick. She stayed in bed in her room, only sometimes emerging for meals. Either to get away from all the commotion or with some other considerations, the little animal started to keep her company. And she, who avoided cats her whole life, she didn't mind a bit. Perhaps she felt better feeling and having someone by her side who didn't require anything from her.
At six months of age Chickie was already huge. He used to like stretching on top of the VCR (yes, it was that long ago!). At first, he could just fit on it. Suddenly I noticed that his feet were hanging off on both sides. He looked positively leonine, with little tufts on his ears and a full, glossy tail swinging benevolently from side to side. Even when the fate (in a white coat) relieved him of his family jewels, he still kept his looks and also gained some composure.
They say that you can't have just one potato chip or just one cat. On a rainy September evening I came to pick up Hanah from the Brownies' meeting. I planned to have a cup of coffee and read a book in the lobby of the church where the meeting took place. When I came out of the car, the rain began in earnest. I heard a kitty's pitiful crying. An all-gray cat sat by the church door and let the world and God know how miserable she was. She had lovely green eyes, which reminded me my mother's. We brought her home and put her in the bathroom, with the bowls of food and water and a litter box. When we came to check on her, my husband and Chickie were both sitting by the door and trying to get a look at the newcomer. Their faces wore an identical alert and curious expression of a carnivore on a hunt.
Hanah called the cat "Sylvie". Her fur is gray and plushy, but there's a silver shine on her paws. She is every inch a female, which means that she feels totally justified to be cranky and to change her moods as often or as quickly as she wants. She has a funny habit of sleeping or just lying awake on her back, keeping a slitted eye on everything. People scoff at this, but I believe, my mother, from the spirit world, sent her to take care of dad. When we bought a house and dad moved in with us, Sylvie quickly adopted him, to the point when she would always sleep in his room and come every time to listen to a nurse or a physical therapist visiting my father. When my dad passed away and an elderly lady, a friend of the family, moved into his room, Sylvie switched her affections to her. She began sleeping on the lady's bed, at times on her stomach, and wake her up by licking her on the face, something she never does with anyone else.
A little after we took Sylvie in, I saw her attempt to make friends with Chickie. She got up from a nap on the floor, put her paws on the couch where Chickie was reposing and stuck her face close to his. As she always met his advances with the hissing and the spitting, Chickie, just awoken from sleep, didn't understand her good intentions. He raised his paw and bared fangs. Since then, going on ten years now, she either ignores him or quickly squashes his every move toward a better relationship, like any girl would do if her moves were rejected previously by a stupid male.
Why do we keep cats? They don't do a thing in the house, except making it smelly, of course. We spend time and money on them, and baby them despite all reason. We only know that without them our lives would be much poorer.
My son and I talk sometimes about the fact that some scientists consider the animals not capable of feeling emotions, or that the music might not possess emotion. Well, obviously, the music carries in it an emotional load that moves and inspires us. I say, - obviously because the people who write music imbue it with the part of themselves. They take it out of their soul and put it into notes. If that's so, then the animals who are God's handiwork, also must be imbued with His emotions and love. On the other hand, seeing the animals so full of character and heart, I can believe in a God who created this world and them, and us - to learn of the great love that He/She put into Their Creation.