Filled with adorable pics and anecdotes that only a cat lover will appreciate. Just a warning so all others can stop reading now…
When King Henry the First died in November, we had no intention of getting another cat anytime soon. Not only were we grieving his sudden dying, we had planned a Scotland vacation for ten days in June. All our cats had chosen us by just appearing and staying and loving. We were sure our next cat would do the same.
But 2020 disrupted life as we know it. Maybe for a long time to come, who knows? So mid-April, mid-pandemic, we made an appointment to visit the local humane society. We had viewed the cats online first (Who would have thought we would Ever. Do. This.) and I had liked the little one-year-old grey tabby named Teacup. When we phoned, they told us she was reserved for another family. But please come and look at the others.
We weren’t allowed in, but we sat on the back deck and they brought us out cats one at a time. We looked at all ages and all colors, and it turned out Teacup had not been taken after all. She was a teeny, tiny kitty who had been in a home of thirteen cats. No, they assured us, she hadn’t been abused; thirteen cats had just turned out to be too many. (!) We laugh about her ravenous hunger now, blaming it on her being the tiniest of thirteen and never being able to push her way in to get any food. She will eat anything from pizza to grilled salmon to tortilla chips that have fallen on the floor. She will clean out any bowl, no matter its contents. At dinner time, she sits and begs food like a dog. When the refrigerator door opens, she is there. I’m sure that someday she will step right inside…
We used to jokingly call him King Henry The First. He died on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a cat’s life, well lived.
I never felt right feeding birds while he was around; scattered bird seed was limited to very heavy snows when Henry was kept inside.
So in December I bought a small feeder, some suet and black sunflower seeds. I hung everything outside the mud room window where Henry had once liked to lurk in the bushes. It took the chickadees a few days; the juncos were next; and then a band of blue jays appeared and I knew we were in.
I stood at the window often in the early winter trying to get some good bird photos with my iPhone, but it made them nervous each time I moved, so eventually I gave up and just enjoyed watching them and keeping track of who visited. There was no Henry to hog the chair by the window, only the two humans who politely take turns…
Lately I’ve had time to stand quietly at the window again. Spring is here and the birds still seem delighted to be fed. Earlier this week I transplanted a dozen sunflower sprouts to a spot in the sun. Spring has come. Flowers are blooming. Fruit trees are starting to blossom. I have started seeds in eggshells and planted some peas and lettuces. The rhythms of nature have not changed, though the human world is now a discordant bang. Or perhaps a better analogy is the door to the world we knew slammed shut.
Where is your comfort when so much has been taken away?
My big physical comfort was Henry. There’s nothing like a warm cat cuddling on your lap, purring at you, touching your cheek with his gentle paw… We decided to not get another cat until we came back from our ten day Scotland vacation in June… Yeah, that’s gone too… And now I have no cat to physically comfort me, and no Scotland to look forward to. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much; I know that.
We all have lost our comfort-able-ness, haven’t we? Some of us have lost more than others, but we all can lament on what’s been taken from us. We can mourn (it’s okay to mourn our losses, no matter how small) and then we must find new ways to regain our comfort. (Just as an aside, I looked up ways, and the online definition is methods of reducing damage...)
The word comfort made me pause the other day, as I considered where my comfort comes from…
And what came into my head were the words to one of the best loved praise songs ever written:
My comfort, my shelter,
tower of refuge and strength,
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship you…
—Shout to the Lord by Darlene Zesch.
If our comfort is in work, family, health, money, entertainment, friends, houses, skills? It’s all up in the air, isn’t it? On hold. That’s not to say, those aren’t good things, but they aren’t the best thing. Earthly treasures disappear. Quickly, as we have learned.
I don’t write about faith often. It’s a tricky thing, and one that I denied for much of my adult life. It’s an unseen, not-easy-to-prove way in our modern, rational world that needs proven science to be considered authentic.
But sometimes the mystery is what we need to cling to when other idols have turned to clay. (That’s a biblical metaphor, by the way…)
I know believers aren’t supposed to quote scripture to prove their beliefs, because what non-believer cares about the Bible? But this quote on faith is one that I’ve grown to love: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.–Hebrews 11:1. Faith is so personal, yet those of us who have it long to share it with those who need it. Because we know how it has changed our lives. For good. For better. For best. It doesn’t eliminate struggles or pain; it simply reminds us of God’s promises, reminds us to be grateful, reminds us to love, and reminds us that dying as a believer is not the worst thing — it is simply the beginning of a new journey.
These days, if your comfort is cold, and you are thinking hard on what is important in your life, give faith a chance. Not all Christians are looney-toon right wing nut cases. :-) Some of us are probably your friends. We are struggling to make sense of all this too, but the three things we do have are comfort and hope and faith–the assurance that things unseen are truths we know in our hearts, our minds, our souls. And it gives us a glimpse, a gift of peace that’s not present in this earth-bound world.
Henry was whining to me the other day — You haven’t written about me for a long time, he said. You have thousands of pictures of me on your phone; don’t you think it’s about time I get another post of my own?
The last time, he just commandeered the laptop and wrote his own post, so I thought I’d better do as he says. No surprise there — the world is full of pet owners doing what their animals demand.
It took us two years to find another cat after our perfect Mr. Kitty died suddenly at early middle age — in his mid-forties, we would say. There’s not much like the sorrow of losing a pet; an animal, you tell yourself, it’s not like a person. Yet they’ve shared your house and your life for however many years and there’s surely a gaping hole where their funny little selves used to be.
Mr. Kitty had been such a good cat! And cats are such capricious beings — not all of them are people I can live with. I’ve known some awful cats in my time — they shall remain nameless. No, one has to be very careful when choosing a cat. No cat rescuer, moi. If I’m going to share my house, the animal best be well behaved.
Just as Mr. Kitty had done, Henry chose us. (I’ve written about him here and here and here.)
A wild cat who had three families feeding him, we are fairly sure that he had been chasing a woman and just got too far away from home to find his way back. Litter-trained from the beginning (he went in Mr. H.C.’s open suitcase on the floor!) he has now made the complete transition from wild tomcat to domesticated lap cat. He looks off the porch at the birds and the chipmunks and then comfortably comes back inside to eat from his food bowl; only in his distant animal memory does he remember being a hunter, cold and miserable in the snow, desperately searching for a warm place to sleep.
Now he curls up stretches out on the bed and snores loudly — louder than Mr. H.C. even.
Henry doesn’t know a stranger. If you sit down in a chair, he’ll be on your lap within five minutes, not even bothering with proper introductions.
When we leave him for three days, he is always delighted to see us when we return — no sulking or pouting for Henry. He jumps into your arms for some immediate loving. “Oh I’ve missed you,” he purrs.
He’s also likely to steal the iPhone and take a selfie.
Our son-in-law stayed here for a few days a couple of weeks ago, and his main charge was caring for the Henry while we were gone. When we returned, his comment was, “Henry is a model cat.”
Yes. We knew that. But Henry overheard, and since then has been overdoing his bad habit… He only has one.
He is an early riser. And he hasn’t figured out yet that we are no longer on Daylight Savings Time. This morning at 4:22 the scratching on the sliding glass door began. He wanted to go out.
It’s hard to ignore cat claws on glass.
He also hasn’t yet figured out that it is getting to be very cold — 28 degrees cold. At 4:25 the scratching began again. He wanted to come in.
It’s hard to ignore cat claws on glass.
He doesn’t leave dead things on the floor; he doesn’t walk on the kitchen counters (though I did catch him once on the dining room table); he won’t drink milk or eat fish from your plate; he doesn’t even say much.