Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Walk on the Wild Side


     I tend to spend a lot of time talking about my pal, Pusia. I've also described a little bit about the three kinds of cat (domestic, feral and wild) and their trials in life. Occasionally one of the feral cats will make the quantum leap into the domestic cat's world and stay there.

     It's a quantum leap because although a cat may decide to live with someone they'll never really lose that wild side of their nature. That's what makes them so appealing. And that's what can be such a big lesson to us. Today I'm relocating to Kerry.

     Geshe is a gorgeous and quite mischievous little ginger calico who came to live with Beata by pure chance. He's a persistent little fellow who has heaps of character. This is his story.

Rags to Riches

     Beata first knew there was a new cat on the scene when she spotted a group of kids playing across the street. Their focus was a little ginger ball of fur who was entertaining them by gambolling around atop a wall.

     Although he was a happy and healthy little kitten he was dirty. When the kids left the scene he didn't go with any of them and he was clearly all alone in the world.

     He must have sensed something kind in Beata's nature because before too long he ended up meowing outside Beata's door and begging to be let in. If you have a cat and a dog, as Beata does, then you'll be sympathetic to her initial reluctance to open her doors to this new kid on the block.

     But, open her door she did. At first she only had the intention of petting him a bit. In fact, when she first told me about him, we thought he was a girl because he was such a pretty cat!

     He was obviously craving a bit of TLC and as he was dirty and a bit smelly Beata took him in and cleaned him up a bit. It wasn't long before he was snoring happily in the comfort of her home.

Taking Up Residence

     Beata had no intention of keeping him longer than a few hours. Once he was cleaned up and rested she put him back outside. He'd come this far, surely he'd manage a bit longer on his own. 'She' was so pretty that someone was bound to collect her or take her in!

     The stray kitten spent the whole night sitting on Beata's doorstep, meowing to be let in. The next morning, there he was, patiently waiting to be let back in!     

     At first he had to be kept away from the other animals. He was effectively quarantined in the living room with the whole sofa to himself, which he loved. He was obviously exhausted from his ordeal and slept a good deal of the time.

     Within a couple of days, however, it was clear that he was going to be a permanent addition to the household.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

     As his character started to emerge, and coincidentally Beata noticed that he had both literal and metaphoric 'balls', he needed a name. A male one! He was full of energy and curious about everything.

     I had suggested the name 'Ginger' because of his colouring but it was clear that he needed a much more appropriate name. When I saw how he held himself and the way he has this knowing look in his eyes I just thought "He's actually a Geshe!" Geshe is the term given to a Buddhist scholar who has achieved a certain amount of wisdom through their studies. I was thinking in particular of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, whose work I've studied in some depth.

     The name stuck and Geshe grew into his role as the wise one. Although his actions are not always that wise he has the demeanour of a very learned spirit!

Making an Impression

     Geshe became quite astute in his new home. As he grew up he was more emboldened to confront his new surroundings. Timo, the Border Collie, is a big softy. He would play with the new arrival and often seemed very protective towards him.

     Mru, the established cat, had more resentment about the situation. At first the two cats kept a respectable distance from each other. Then Mru tried to dominate Geshe with the result that his male character emerged.

     Despite the fact that Mru is 7 years older than Geshe, the balance of power shifted in his favour. As he learned to play and hunt he started attacking Mru. It wasn't ever anything serious but he developed a guerilla campaign and would lurk around corners or perch on top of cupboards ready to launch himself at her!

     She only took so much of this, however. Every now and then she'd put Geshe in his place with a few sharp bashes on the nose. Sometimes the conflict reignites between the two of them but you had to admire Geshe's persistence. Wherever Mru would sit he'd find a crack of opportunity that he could also use.

     Soon the two cats were living side by side in a slightly discordant harmony!

The Fact of the Matter

     Geshe has no fear. He has spent some time in my house too, though not since my fearless and even more dominating Pusia has arrived on the scene.

     When he has the opportunity he is an absolutely fearless explorer. He often comes home covered in oil, earth and any other kind of dirt you can imagine. Recently he had a bite mark on his front leg but nothing seems to dampen his spirits! Everything is an opportunity for more adventure, as far as he's concerned.

     I think one of the biggest things I admire about this cat in particular is that he won't take no for an answer. If he wants something, whether it's food or simply to be let in or out, he'll ramp up the pressure on his human until he gets his way. That'll mean that you have to watch your ankles when he's in one of these moods. If you don't then you'll get a nip or two until he's satisfied.

This Cat Was Made for Walking

     Right from the very first day that Geshe moved into Beata's house his independence has shone through. When Geshe goes out on one his adventures around the neighbourhood he'll often get so engrossed in what he's doing that he doesn't come home for hours. You can call him and call him and he'll just stay out.

     If he's in a really mischievous mood then he'll tease Beata by walking up the garden path and running away just as she goes to get him!

     When Beata takes Timo out for a walk it's not unusual for them to turn a corner and find Geshe waiting patiently for them at some distance from the house.

Lessons Learnt

     And that's the beauty of having a cat like Geshe. All cats are unique in their own ways. Every cat owner will tell you that their cat is intelligent, independent, more loving and every other positive attribute that makes the 'otherness' of cats so special to cat lovers. But Geshe really has shown some determination in carving out his niche in Beata's home.

     He's established there now. He's part of the furniture. But he's never lost that independence and ability to entertain that he had the first day Beata saw him on the wall with those kids.

     It makes me think that whatever happens around us, there are always opportunities and situations that will change our surroundings for the better. We don't need to change ourselve to take advantage of them. Underneath it all we still have our own characters that we can act out and remain true to.

     I think I want to be more like a cat. If someone doesn't agree with something I want to do (as long as it's not harmful to anyone or anything, obviously) then I'll crawl into a suitcase and stare, resolutely, at a point on the wall until the opportunity arises to do that thing.