Last night I went to dinner with friends. We talked, not of clothes or makeup, not of shopping or movies or places we had been, not of husbands or children or illnesses we were experiencing. We didn’t even discuss politics; instead we talked about cats. Cats we are caring for and cats we had lost, cats who needed homes and cats already in our homes, funny cat antics and litter box issues. The hilarity of cat farts.
Sometimes I step back from my cat-person persona to wonder – What it is about cats? Is there such a thing as a Crazy Cat Lady? And if so, is it some sort of mental deviation? Are we truly crazy?
I could make the excuse that the cat made me do it and be perfectly correct. When I look into those big whiteless eyes, hear that rumble purr, I can’t resist loving them. When they call in the night or greet me at my door, I know the relationship is shared. When they jump on my head while I sleep, I forgive. When they pee inappropriately, I seek to understand. This is a synergetic relationship with an alien species. It is a grasp for an understanding of my world from another perspective.
Cats give me so much, I can’t count the ways. By establishing ties with humans, they have made themselves our concern. It is our duty to care for them, keep them well and happy, and help them live to the fullest. When a cat is sick, we must heal him; when he is wounded, we must tend him; when he is scared, we must assure him. But why? What does humanity get out of this love and caring?
There are stories of hero cats who have rescued their human families from a wide range of misfortunes. Cats have saved people from other animals, alerted them to fire, even warned of heart attack and diabetic seizure. A cat was known to call 911 on a phone when his wheelchair-bound person had a fall. Therapy cats take their furry love into schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities. They visit the sick and dying. Petting a cat can lower blood pressure. Their purr can help knit bone. Cat moms and dads will do for their kitty what they would not do for anyone else, including kicking an addiction or forgoing suicide.
There was a reason the ancient Egyptians worshiped cats as gods. Originally to bring down the snake and rodent population in their granaries, which also reduced disease, cats soon proved to have so much more to give. People began bringing them into their homes. Thus evolved the cat-person.
Is this crazy? To be stuck in place because the cat is on my lap? Is this crazy? To spend copiously on veterinary costs while pinching pennies everywhere else? Is this crazy? To volunteer at a shelter when I could be out making money? Is this crazy? To be there every 12 hours for a decade or two to give a diabetic cat his shots? To adopt the old and infirm, just to give them quality time before they die? Is this crazy?
I embrace my cat lady status. My relationship with cats has shown me a balance outside the human conundrum. Because of cats, I am more compassionate, more accepting, more self-assured, and more imaginative. (Yes, Little is napping on the new, yet to be published fourth Crazy Cat Lady mystery, Cat Call)
Cats have shown me how to be a better person, which after all is said and done, is the only thing I have for this world. Am I crazy? Some would give an undisputed yes, but those people are missing a dimension of life, that of sharing with a species not their own.