Friday, July 1, 2011
I think if I were to write a book about my relationship with cats, that title would be “purrfect.” I have never been a social butterfly or a people person. Although I have family and good friends that I love dearly, and acquaintances whose company I enjoy, these relationships are judiciously chosen. There are only a handful of humans that I trust explicitly and feel deeply connected to. Animals are a different matter altogether. I’ve felt a strong connection to animals since childhood, and as each year passes my feelings of love toward these amazing creatures grows deeper. All of my best friends DO wear fur, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I know there are people who consider that quite sad – hence all the jokes about Crazy Cat Ladies – but it’s not sad to me in the slightest.
We all experience life in different ways, and sometimes we don’t even really know why certain things appeal to us more than others; they just do. I like who I am and who I love, or I would do something to change it. I may live with cats instead of other humans, but I’m never lonely. I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, when to clean or what I should eat, and I like it that way. Um, wait…that’s not exactly true. My cat Rocky often tells me I shouldn’t eat that chicken breast or piece of fish and should give it to him instead. I just laugh, pour him a bowl of FELIDAE kibble and tell him to get over it.
Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about my pets, about how much they mean to me and how thankful I am that they’re sharing this journey with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at my cats and smile, or laugh at their crazy antics. Every day I get to experience the feeling of a heart that is full of love, and I feel blessed to have such wonderful companions. That they happen to wear fur coats is inconsequential, really. Love comes in many forms, and if we have an abundance of it in our life, then we are fortunate indeed.
What caused me to reflect upon my furry best friends was a death in the family. In January my mother lost her best friend, her husband of 35 years. They did everything together and were never apart. Now she is lost, lonely, depressed and living a mostly joyless life. She’s never had a pet, nor has she even considered it. She is a people person, and the idea of bonding with an animal and sharing her life with one has no merit. Growing up, our family had a dog, several cats and two Shetland ponies as well as various farm animals. I remember feeding baby lambs with a bottle, and raising fluffy little chicks into full grown hens. I think my mother – a nurturing soul to her core – liked caring for our animals, but she never grew attached to any of them.
When I suggested she get a pet to help with the loneliness and grief of losing her beloved husband, she was adamant that it would never happen. It made me very sad, because I know a pet would make her life better in so many ways, both emotionally and physically. She lives by herself now in a big old house, but if she had a pet she would never be alone. She’d have someone to talk to, take care of and give her a hug whenever she wanted one. A pet would never replace her relationship with her husband, but it would go a long way toward easing the void his passing has created.
Sadly, it’s not to be. She will likely spend her last years alone and lonely. What I realized is that no matter how much you might wish someone was different, you can’t change who they are. I can’t turn my mother into a pet person any more than she can turn me into a people person. My best friends all wear fur, and she will never understand why people want pets. The difference is that one of us is happy with their life, and the other one isn’t.
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