Monday, 6 January 2014

A Cat's Work is Never Done!

Preamble

     As we head into the first stages of the New Year it's interesting to see how things just never change for the cat. She's slightly irritated by the weather, of course.

The weather has been unbelievable!
     This Christmas break has consisted of an almost uninterrupted run of rainy days punctuated by storms and 130 km per hour winds! There have been odd outbreaks of sunshine, incidents of flying garden furniture and flooding but though the sunny spells have been met with bursts of optimism and the flying furniture and flooding has been met with dread and resignation these episodes are usually short lived. It's never long before we're returned to the previous and familiar gloom of reliable storm clouds and strong gusts of wind.

     Pusia, on the other hand, has taken all this in her stride. She has sensibly taken to her bed for the majority of the wet weather and only ventured out in the best moments of sunshine.

     On the whole she remains undistracted from her mission of carrying on life as a cat. And that, I suppose, is the lesson in itself.

     It's the New Year but what really changes to make this a special time at all?


Waiting Room

     The main thing that I feel as the years rush by is that I always seem to be waiting for something to happen - it's a "not this year perhaps but maybe next" kind of mentality. 

     Waiting is something Pusia understands all too well. All cats experience this, in fact. It's a natural part of being a cat to spend loads of time waiting and stalking your prey. This means that a cat's waiting around has some very definite meaning.

Pusia spends a lot of time watching the birds.
     I love to watch Pusia waiting for the right moment. She has such focus and purpose. Very little can distract her from her goal and she'll spend hours sitting in the same position. But eventually there comes a time for action.


Robert the Bruce was a Cat

     "If at first you don't succeed try try again!" That's allegedly what Robert the Bruce said on seeing a spider unsuccessfully spin a web several times in the cave where he was hiding. I reckon the historians got it wrong. It wasn't a spider at all. It must have been a cat.

     I see Pusia attempting things so many times and not one single failure seems to cause a setback. Just now she leapt into action. In a heartbeat she was atop the wall and lunging at the activity in the bushes. Moments later she turned back empty handed - though that's not always the case.

Every failure is a step closer to success.
     Unperturbed by her failure to catch anything this time she just plonked herself down again and waited for the next opportunity. Her optimism seems to have no limits! It's encouraging to see this attitude towards her life not just at the New Year but at any point during the year.


Health Regimes

     Health is always one of the favourites on the New Year's Resolution list. This is the peak time that people join a gym and then never go more than the first blaze of enthusiasm allows. There's so much we can do to cleanse ourselves without joining a gym. 

     Diet is one of the main things. I'm not talking about 'going on a diet'. Something as simple as resolving to drink more water or eat more fresh food can have a massive impact on health in general.

     I'm pretty good in this respect. In the mornings (after I've fed Pusia and replenished her water supply first and foremost, naturally) I always have a glass of water with ginger and lemon juice. Then during the day I'll keep drinking a full glass of water as often as I can on the hour. 

     In general cats are notoriously bad drinkers. The other day, however, Pusia demonstrated how unreliable it is to generalise about anything. She disappeared from the room and within moments I heard this delightful little slurping noise coming from the kitchen.

Pusia takes every opportunity to drink water.
     Pusia had found a bucket I was using to douse a painful elbow in ice cold (fresh) water. Seizing the opportunity (as obviously you just never know where the next water hole will be) she craned over its edge and drank to her heart's content. You'd think there was a drought forecast!

     This is something she will repeat at puddles and in various receptacles outdoors around the place for wild and farm animals. I'm told it genuinely does have something to do with the 'watering hole' mentality but Pusia must be flushing her colon out well.


Maintaining the Neighbourhood

     We have to do several things to maintain our neighbourhoods. Firstly we have to make an effort to get to know the people who live around us. This can sometimes be something of a challenge.

     Pusia likes to keep her boundaries pretty well defined. Occasionally she'll meet the feral cats when she's out and about. This will usually be a fairly civilised affair and she will partake of the well established social functions such as sitting a discreet distance from each other, pretending to ignore the other's presence, growling slightly or nonchalantly closing her eyes. Sometimes the two cats will just sit and stare at each other for as long as twenty or thirty minutes.

     When the feral cat darkens our doorstep it can be quite a different story. Pusia is very well behaved though.

The occasional visit is acceptable.
     As long as she still feels special enough and I fuss over her rather than the feral cat then she seems pretty tolerant of the situation. 

     Poor Freddy, as I like to call him, does after all have to spend the best part of his time hiding in sheds and barns to escape this awful weather! I think in some small way that Pusia recognises his position as a poor relation. In her eyes, I believe he has become one of those relatives that we all dread to receive a visit from but we know is a necessary inconvenience that we must suffer from time to time.

     Unlike their human counterparts who visit at Christmas, New Year or on anniversaries or birthdays, cats have no such sense of ceremony or time and their interest in social affairs is an intrigue that deepens with every passing day.


Building Bridges

     The other part of maintaining your neighbourhood is to ensure that relations are cordial between all concerned. Being uncomfortable around someone can be a distinct drawback if, for example, the bird table is in their garden.

     Pusia demonstrated her wonderful skills of diplomacy the other night. Being human, I decided that New Year was the kind of time it would be nice to have the neighbours in for a bite to eat. The neighbour who has the bird table spends most of her time shooing Pusia away and generally trying to frighten her out of the garden. On the odd comical occasion I have even watched a Tom and Jerry scenario play out as she emerges from the house, broom in hand, and proceeds to chase the cat across the driveway!

     You'd think this may have had a lasting impression on Pusia. As things turned out it appears this is not the case.

Pusia likes to keep things cordial.
     Despite various discouraging noises from the neighbour (and everybody else's best attempts to entice Pusia onto their laps) my darling cat made a beeline for the one person in the room who probably wanted her attention least of all!

     Let's be clear about this. One party was dead against the union but the other simply wasn't going to accept 'no' for an answer. Let this be a lesson in improving relations. Once Pusia had made herself comfortable on my neighbour's lap there was nothing to do other than accept defeat and cuddle her.

     Despite the uneasy relationship Pusia seemed quite comfortable with the situation and snuggled down for the duration. She demonstrated with ease that cats can assume the properties of a liquid when humans attempt to remove them from a location where they wish to remain!


Time to Reflect

     When all is said and done the New Year is a time to stop, take a breath and reflect on where you've been and where you want to go. "When," the cat asks, "is it not a good time to reflect?" The cat is also probably thinking, Who cares where you want to go or where you've been? Cats are, after all, masters of living in the moment and finding time to reflect. 

     Any time. 

     Anywhere. 

    All the time!

Pusia gets more use out of the meditation room than I do!
     Pusia gets positively excited when she sees or hears me heading for my meditation room. I'm not one for standing on ceremony about these things so I can just as easily lie in a recliner as sit cross legged on the floor.

     If I lie down then Pusia will launch herself at me and curl up in my lap, making it all the easier to let go and luxuriate in the vibrations of her purring. If I choose to sit and contemplate in a much more serious and traditional manner then she will simply 'be' somewhere near me. It doesn't seem to bother her which manner I choose to meditate in.

     So I take great delight in the fact that Pusia encourages me to maintain these regular pauses in my life, not just as a means of moving forwards in a new year but also as a way of revitalising through the entire year and, indeed, into life beyond that.

     It's true to say that the New Year is a time for new starts, new resolutions, to make plans and to surge forwards with new incentives. But what really makes the New Year such a special time to await these changes?

     Nothing. Nothing that each new sunrise doesn't teach us. Cats may be unaware of this simple truth but in being unaware they seem to know this and they spend the majority of their lives reminding us of the bliss of ignorance. Thank goodness they never tire of their mission to live life in the Now.

Happy New Year 2014!