Monday, January 10, 2011

Letting New Beings into My Life

I'm hoping that this will be my only blog post about my cats. I absolutely refuse to let this blog de-evolve into a blog about the single life with cats. I refuse! Anyway, but an interesting thing happened when I chose to open my life to two new young beings, two 7-month old cats who were born not far from here, from a feral mother.

I grew up with cats. The only times I haven't had a cat or cats was during the time I was in college, and then for the last 2 or 3 years, after my cat, Merlin, died suddenly after living with me for 13 years. I've always missed having cats, but after Merlin died, I was so involved in other things, including an all-encompassing relationship with a man who was allergic to cats, that I just didn't have room in my life for them. I didn't spend very much time at home, my man was allergic, and my life felt full. Also, my life had dogs in it. My boyfriend had a dog, who died after I had known him about a year, but then his roommate brought another dog into our lives, and I enjoyed getting to know these creatures who were so different from the cats I'd always been surrounded by. I once remarked to a cat-loving co-worker that I felt like my life was entering a dog phase.

When the relationship started going downhill, I often thought about getting cats again. My house, where I was now spending more time, felt empty without other mammals in it. But the relationship wasn't over yet, and I still clung to it.  If I got cats, that walled off a portion of my life from the man I loved, because he could no longer spend time at my house. Getting cats felt scary to me, like letting go of something I didn't want to let go of. It didn't feel like the time was right.

After the breakup, it took me about 3 months to be ready to get cats. For years I had been asking the universe to send me my next animal companions. My cats who died felt like my familiars, not like pets to me, as did my ex-boyfriend's dog, Paco, and I wanted any relationship I developed with future furry creatures to be as special. Animals aren't just accessories, they're sentient beings, creatures who have their own lives, personalities, and neuroses, just like people. I wasn't just going to go grab some random cats from the pound and be done with it.

I was looking online at pet adoptions, when I saw pictures of two older kitten called Callie and Zorro. On a whim, I e-mailed the woman who ran the organization. I assumed those kitties had been adopted already, since the photos were from two months before. After I sent the e-mail I was nervous. Did I really want cats? Was it time?

When she e-mailed me back, she had a lot of requests of me in regards to caring for any cats I adopted. She was a holistic practitioner, so I was to feed only raw organic food, have the cats be indoor/outdoor, and not have them vaccinated. I balked at all the rules - as well as the high adoption fee - and when I explained that those weren't going to work for me, I felt relief. The situation seemed settled. I would not adopt cats. But then she, and the women who were fostering the cats, both wrote back basically begging me to look at the kitties and telling me the could be flexible on the rules. "These cats need love!" they all said.

I thought about it. Was this the universe giving me what I had asked for: a sign that these were my new animal companions? I decided it was, and went to visit the cats, and later decided to bring them home. They're both sitting near me right now as I type this.

Deciding to bring them home was a process. I had to let go of the life I had had over the last 3 years, of staying away from home for days on end, and of dating a man who was allergic. Even now, when I miss my old life, I wonder if getting cats was the wisest thing to do. In my darkest moments recently, I've looked at the cats, who I've re-named Sita and Shiva, and wondered if I was going to end up a middle-aged cat lady, alone in my house with my expanding menagerie. This even though I've always had cats and had many a relationship where my partner loved my cats.

But there's some ease that isn't there anymore, the way it used to be when I had my other cats. I have to stop myself from seeing these kitties as an obstacle to a free life, and I never felt that way about my other cats. I wonder if it's because of who I am now, the experiences I've had since the last time I had cats, the recent breakup. I'm keeping open to my new housemates, letting them get used to this place and to me, letting them teach me who they are. We will develop a relationship, the three of us, and hopefully, someday a fourth two-legged male human animal will join us. But right now we're a funny family, one of whom is now chewing on my toe as I sit curled on my couch typing this. I never realized that getting kitties would be as intense a soul search as it has been, and continues to be. But, the adventure continues!

1 comment:

Peter Beren said...

Mellifluence shows a deep love and understanding of cats, the crown of creation. Three-month-old Sailor came from the kill shelter with a name and a big personality. Why Sailor? We guessed that it was because he liked to play in running water. Today he is two and likes to cuddle or touch my face or, even better, put his face in mine. He is more like a roommate than a pet.