Thursday, 15 August 2013

Keep Calm and Keep Cats!


     If you saw my last post then you'll know that I am stressed! Stressed because I have been chasing my cat around the house trying to dry her. Stressed because I have been battling to keep Pusia indoors after she received her costly medication. That's a subject for another time. And yet there is this contradiction in cat terms.

     I have just finished watching a Desmond Morris documentary about cats. It tells me in great detail that cats are actually wild animals that have chosen to live with us. This I can well believe. I see it in Pusia's eyes. But science has now proved that the bond between a human and a cat is one of the most beneficial for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.

     This surely has to be a little bit like smoking 20 a day and then exercising to maintain your lung capacity! I mean, a cat drives you to despair and then settles nonchalantly alongside you, purring to melt your heart.

A Walk on the Wild Side

     Regular readers will be acquainted with at least two of the cats in my life. The one who owns me, Pusia, has at least been a domestic cat her whole life. The one who owns my partner, Mru, has verged on becoming a feral cat. She lives with Beata but spends a good deal of her time out and about fighting the locals and generally causing mayhem. To get close to her is a little bit like going in search of the Holy Grail.

     Once she elects to spend time indoors you'll mostly find her curled up on a bed upstairs or hiding on a chair under the kitchen table. When she wants food she'll find her voice and call out, following you around the house until she gets what she wants. And then, just as you're about to lose it, she'll go and do something irresistibly cute like sit down on the arm of the sofa where you're lying and curl her tail around your ear!

     Apart from the cute factor, it's a compromise that cats make. They have a need for physical contact like this. It spreads their smell onto familiar objects and, of course, it makes it appealing for us to have them around.

Yin and Yang

     This double existence we have with our cats is all part and parcel of being a cat person. I don't say "cat owner" quite deliberately. There's no such thing. If there's any truth in the situation then it's us who are owned by the cats. Their wild existence that goes largely unobserved by us is complemented by the soft and cuddly persona they assume within the comfort and security of our homes.

     There's simply nothing black and white about living with a cat. Right from getting the choice of food through to the type of toys and the daily routine, everything is a moveable feast that fits around one thing and one thing only - the cat! It's Yin and Yang. A cat creates the Yin and we have to Yang...

     The sight of Mru sprawling on the bed, however, completely exposed and vulnerable is enough to send my blood pressure tumbling to dangerously low levels. Half the time I can't resist the urge to curl up on the bed next to Mru when she's like this. She will, of course, nip me on the nose or toes or some fast moving extremity just to remind me who's boss!

Just One More Lap

     My Pusia is just the same. I see her out and about hunting. She has a wild side that she presents to me several times a day in the form of the mice she brings home. As she attempts to train me, in vain, to kill some of the live ones she expends a lot of energy re-catching them when my attempts to catch them with an ice cream tub fail. 

     On the odd occasion that I do get a mouse in the box before she manages to despatch it then she'll hop around the place and follow me outside. As I release it, I have to make delighted chomping sounds as if I am actually killing and eating the mouse. This seems to satisfy her need to train me as her kitten. I'm sure she is under the impression that I'm a slow learner. Otherwise she might refrain from bringing quite so many live ones in.

     The one thing she seems entirely satisfied with is the quality of my lap. Most times she is only too eager to come over and test it out for comfort. The preferred time for her would be the middle of the afternoon but other times will work too. And I have to admit, whatever mood I'm in and however high or low I feel, her leaping onto my lap and curling up into a neat little furry ball sends me into an almost catatonic state myself.

     This killer, this intrepid mouser, this terrorist who stalks me around the house to get her way... She becomes the cutest and cuddliest little monster you ever did know! It doesn't matter how long it lasts. Sometimes it's minutes. Other times she'll lie there snoozing (often snoring) for more than an hour. And you know what? It's always worth putting that time aside if I can to sit with her and stop.

Keep Calm and Carry On

     It's like a regulator in some ways. When Pusia plonks herself on me I make the decision to spend the time with her. It's like a little meditation in itself. Her purring or gentle breathing is sooooooo calming. Actually, it's one of the most relaxing and focusing experiences I've known.

     Whenever it's time for Pusia to wake up and go about her business she just gets up, stretches that way only cats and Yoga practitioners know how, and saunters away to create havoc once more. It's a very tempered existence. It creates little spaces of serenity in the day and it helps at those times that you need to find the calmness to carry on.