Thursday, July 21, 2011

You can learn a lot from a fat cat...

Meet Victor. He is the most ordinary 20lb house cat you will ever meet. He eats, sleeps, stares out the window and generally has a dull existence. Since arriving shortly before Thanksgiving four years ago, Victor has been the main cat of the house. He does nothing too extraordinary, except everything. What I have realized in these few weeks of stress, life change, and general circumstance is Victor knows what's right in the world. Meditation, yoga, hours of bike rides, friend phone calls, and long emails taught me nothing about life. Victor has.

1. Victor really does smell the flowers. By this, I mean, nothing gets by Victor. Whether its a bag of groceries, flowers, new clothes, or wet bike clothes, Victor notices everything. He approaches each new thing with a slight sniff as if scanning it into inventory. Nothing disturbs Victor. Loud noise, crumpling plastic bags, and even a large barking dog do not bother him. Each new item seems to be accepted into his world no matter what it is.

2. Victor is not afraid to be vulnerable. At some point during the evening usually while we are catching up on our trashy reality TV for the day, Victor will come into the living room and roll onto his back. Note this is his most vulnerable position and yet, every night he does this, stretching and lulling himself to sleep with only his paws twitching in a dream like state. He does not mind if I steal a rub of his super soft fur. He is content upside down, quite content and he isn't afraid to show it.

3. Victor is a leader. Victor ignores all species boundaries and prefers to be inclusive. You can imagine how confusing this is for an 80lb golden retriever with chronic anxiety. Victor never fails to include Buddy in his daily relaxation. Often Buddy is tense and nervous but Victor is always there to set an example of peace and tranquility regardless of supposed IQ differences. In fact, Victor hates to quantify any being. Numbers are for humans.

4. Victor smiles. If you know other cat owners, it is likely they have told you stories of a hissing, clawing meowing beast called a cat. In the time I have had Victor, he has never hissed, growled, or clawed at me. On any given vet visit, even with a thermometer applied to his rectum, Victor has never been aggressive.  Instead from time to time, he will fall asleep in my lap, purring loudly and grow a small smile on his face. Perhaps it is nothing more than relaxed feline muscles but I like to imagine that he is so content, he smiles.

5. Victor cares. When I brought Victor home, he took to a small beenie stuffed bunny. At first, I thought it was him needing a cat toy. I raced to the store, purchased other cat toys only to find Victor carrying "baby" around. Years later, because of my care and sewing skills, "baby" is still toted around at least 2-3 times a day. Victor carries him like a kitten around the house, dropping him off at the water bowl, food dish, and near the shower at times. Victor bathes "baby" and he is generally easily spotted in the house. This activity caused me to ask the vet who explained some male cats have female actions. Victor is being nurturing despite the fact he has no obvious way of producing kittens. It is a scene that will cause laughter and giggling watching him toddle about the house with this small creature in his grasp. He cares for "baby" and there is NO substitute. I was thankful to see the beanies fall out of favor of collectors because I was able to score a replacement at an antique mall for a dollar one morning. I keep it stored for the day that "baby" must be replaced.

When I adopted Victor, like many people, I thought I was adopting a pet but there are times when I swear Victor is trying to talk to me. He has expressions on his face and far beyond our daily routine of being fed and being cared for like a king, Victor is more than a cat. When I walk in the door, his almond shaped eyes greet me and he runs to me, often competing to beat the dog. He wins every time. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is he who adopted me. I was just there to write a check and drive a cat carrier home.