The Tao of Kitty

I have been fortunate to have cats since I can remember. Our first cat when I was a little girl was black and white, lived outside, and was aptly named “Cat” by my younger brother. He was very friendly and after we fed him in the morning, he would walk us down the long driveway (nearly 1/10 of a mile) to where we caught the bus to school.

At that age I was still walking independently, but my distances were limited and uneven terrain was challenging. How I loved that cat! The only problem was his form of loving back was to rub on our legs and cause tripping as we walked.

Lesson #1: Kitty love is beautiful, but can also be painful.

Later we had an indoor cat named Zela (zee-la). She had a gorgeous, think calico fur and bright green eyes. We think she had been abused before she found our house and we adopted her, because she was very shy and skittish around loud noises. But Zela was so lovable and had a phenomenally loud purr.

When I had my first huge rheumatoid arthritisflare-up around age 10, I spent a lot of time on the couch because I couldn’t move and was coping with a great deal of pain. Zela could sense it and she would gently lay on my lap and stomach, purring as I stroked her soft fur. She could always tell when I was feeling worse and somehow knew how to comfort me.

Lesson #2: Some kitties have special senses for detecting pain and soothing it.

Our cat Gizmo came to us accidentally. We had picked her out for my grandmother, who decided she did not want a cat. But Gizmo was so young and energetic, we adopted her instead. What a firecracker!

Gizmo could play and run! She was always having adventures and although she became an indoor cat, she liked to escape and have a romp before returning home. Sometimes she left us unwelcome surprises (dead mice) on the front door mat as a token of appreciation and demonstration of her hunting abilities.

Lesson #3: Embrace the kittenish ability to play and have fun.

My parents’ current cat, Mr. Maow, is gentle and softly grey. He was never very fast or bright, but he was always a kind gentleman. Sometimes other cats would bully him, but he was ever patient with them and never retaliated.

Now he spends much of his time in a sunbeam or next to the fire napping. But he is also very faithful and periodically rounds the house to check on everyone. Although I can tell he is having some arthritis in his joints, by his slower walk or loss in his ability to jump, he still cares for his humans.

Lesson #4: Gentleness and patience benefit kitty wisdom.

If I didn’t understand it before, I would have been surprised about the unique personalities of every cat after we adopted Aiko. She is a kitty of her own mind, which seems to change quite regularly. Aiko also has strong passions—when she is so happy from pets, she kicks her legs! When she is anxious, she shakes her tail like a rattlesnake! She lives every moment strongly.

Aiko also enjoys comforting her humans—when either myself or my husband are sick she will sit with us, guarding diligently. And she has learned to rub on my “good” right leg as the other is not as strong.

Lesson #5: Honor all the many varied kitty-emotions during the moment.

All of my cats have taught me so many things about caring, sensitivity, living vibrantly and bravely. They have been true companions and caretakers throughout my life with RA.

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