– Clarence Holm
I talk to my cats. I admit it. I talk to my cats and sometimes they bother to listen.
I have three cats living in my home all three of which were selected by other members of the family to live there with the promise that they would be responsible for and take care of them.
So now I fill food bowls, change water dishes and scoop kitty litter for all three. If they want to go out, they come yowling to me. If they want to go out, they come yowling to me! If they want to go out, they come yowling to me!!! When they want to come in they do a window dance, pawing and digging at the glass sliding door until I notice.
Their lives have achieved a certain rhythm. Sleep, get up and ask to go outside. Sleep, eat, get up and ask to go outside. Sleep, eat, litter box, get up and ask to go outside. Sleep… The only thing that interrupts the cycle is another cat coming into the yard. Then it is all hands on deck hissing and growling at the window with arched backs and tails “poofed”.
Throughout the day they follow me from room to room, never getting too close or far away. It’s like they have a certain perimeter that they must maintain to be happy.
I guess I started to converse with my cats about 20 years ago, when I suffered a major stroke. I was, for a time, completely paralyzed, but luckily I was one of the first people in Minnesota to be administered “TPA” and had my clot dissolved before permanent damage was done. Still I spent a number of months convalescing at home, relearning to read and write along with completing some physical therapy.
During that time I had as constant companions the cats. They seemed to be drawn to me (possibly because I spilled a lot of food). Still, I really feel they truly took me under their wing and nursed me back to health.
They listened to me as I read out loud and commiserated with me as I stumbled over the words. I had to completely rebuild my comprehension in stages because of my weakened memory. First of all I could only handle one word, then a phrase. Soon I could understand sentences. As I got better, I was able to hold together thoughts long enough to finish a paragraph, which after a year or so expanded to a page, a chapter and now after many years a book. While I still would not want to be tested on any of the information I read, I get by for the most part.
Through it all the cats stood with me. They didn’t seem to care if I got their name wrong and referred to them as dogs, or squirrels or whatever was in my mind that day. As long as I would pet them, they would crawl into my lap and purr. I understood them and they tolerated me.
As I recovered the cats hung with me and the communication grew. They seemed to understand my words and respond if really needed. For my part, I became an expert at judging when it was time for everyone to take a nap (Always!) or when they wanted their food bowl topped off. (Cats can’t stand empty food bowls)
So after many years the cats & I are friends and understand each other well.
Now if only I could understand my family just as well.