When I first thought about writing this post, the idea of “Being” kitty-style appeared in a golden moment of watching Sophie snooze on the back of the easy chair during the Christmas Holidays. I thought a post on “Being” kitty-style would catalog a zen-like existence I might appropriate in some way. “Being” kitty-style is a zen-like existence for the kitty, but not for humans other than the kitty’s human. As it turns out, my experiences turned this post into something quite different. While the title is still appropriate, and the content morphed – similar to how the Idea of something frequently differs from the Reality of something when examined in the clear light of day rather than in an all-too-brief golden moment.
I like the idea of kitties and have considered several times taking in a kitty from the shelter. Although my personal experience of having a kitty at the age of two gave me a life-long fear of cats, our daughter, Rae, has made having a kitty look like fun. Rae is delighted with her pet, her ‘stuffed animal come alive’, and encourages us to consider kitty-adoption. My husband would love to have a little creature live with us, but something in my inner being says, uh, no. And after spending 8 days with ‘Phie and her humans, I have not changed my mind.
Sophie is my grand-kitty. My daughter has had ‘Phie for over four years, which is to say that ‘Phie is truly a cat, not a kitty. But she is my grand-kitty just the same, and she is a beautiful calico. She terrifies me, and yet I can’t help wanting to pet her; I can’t help wanting her to like me. I think she knows this about me. This is “Being” kitty-style.
Rosie, the nun who taught me spiritual direction as well as astrology, had two cats, Coco and Cinnamon. They were sisters themselves and, much like the stories of Egyptian temple cats, were the goddesses in residence at Rosie’s St. Paul apartment. They, however, must have perceived my reticence toward cats as they never appeared to me the many times I was there. That, of course, doesn’t mean that they didn’t see me – they just didn’t allow me to see them. This is “Being” kitty-style.
My son and his wife have my other grand-kitty. She is Signe – named for a character in the research my son did for his master’s thesis in Old English/Old Norse Mythology. The character Signe is not a goddess per se, but a heroine and warrior in her own right. The grand-kitty Signe lives up to her name. She is an escape artist, frequently slipping out the door to hunt and hide, causing untold stress to her humans, and returning when cold, wet, or hungry for attention. This is “Being” kitty-style.
When Rick and I visited a local bird supply shop last year, we encountered the shop cat, a mouser, named Aslan. Aptly named, this cat was a leonine beauty, who crept around the displays and watched the shoppers and kept look out for mice. As I perused a trinket on the shelf, Aslan curled himself around my ankles and lay down, rolling to his side. It looked like an invitation to me.; but as I reached down to pet him, his paw darted out and grazed my hand. I jumped back in surprise, the scratch not drawing blood, but appearing on my hand. I must have uttered some noise as the clerk came over and told me she hoped he hadn’t scratched me, but he didn’t like being petted by strangers. This is “Being” kitty-style.
Watching ‘Phie sleep is sweet, watching her hug up on Rae is sweet, and petting ‘Phie while Rae holds her and she purrs is sweet; but I sense that ‘Phie only tolerates us. Both Rick and I were marked and bloodied a bit by playing too invasively with Rae’s kitty. The operative word here is “Rae’s”. Rae also warned that while ‘Phie is adorable and cute – she is and will always be a wild ‘Beastie‘. This is also “Being” kitty-style.
When describing his relationship with his kitty, Signe, my son said: Dogs have masters; cats have staff. True – ‘Phie allows Rae to manhandle her in a way no one else could. Rae says this is because it was ‘Phie who picked Rae at the shelter, not the other way around. This is “Being” kitty-style.
I’m not ready to be staff just yet – perhaps I’m afraid a kitty will pick Rick and not me; maybe I’m just not ready to open my home to a Beastie. But don’t count me out. The nice think about grand-kitties is that you can get a bit of ‘being” kitty-style – and then leave them in the care of their humans. That is enough for me right now. Some inkling of desire to have my own kitty still lives – just not yet.