Friday, October 12, 2007

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I've been strongly identifying with our cat Heather lately. For the record, Heather is our indoor-outdoor male cat, not to be confused with our indoor only cat Tiger. And, no, my strong identification with a boy named Heather has nothing to do with gender confusion.

Heather, who freely roams the streets of Altadena by day and purrs by my side by night, suddenly found her . . . er . . . himself an indoor only cat. A slight scrape resulted in an infection, stitches and two weeks of home confinement and antibiotics. (I wonder if the other tom cats were tormenting him about his name.)

Life on the inside was hell for Heather on day one. He was like a cat on a hot tin roof - edgy, jumpy, agitated - and spent the entire day screeching "MEOW," with a strong emphasis on the "OW." My anthropomorphic reassurances ("This is temporary. You'll be out in two weeks.") did no good. No amount of cooing, coaxing or stroking could calm the beast. I could relate to that.

By day two, Heather was noticeably calmer. He alternated between a cat on a hot tin roof and a cat on a nice warm lap. An hour of agitated house prowling was followed by an hour of contented lap purring. I could really relate to that. I felt like my own life was a series of "OMs" and groans, calm and serenity interspersed with agitation and anxiety.

On day four, it was as though someone had flicked a switch in Heather's brain. He was content to sit for hours on a lap or chair. He wandered into the kitchen for leisurely meals and into the bathroom for water. The only time he mewed was to tell me that he wanted me to turn on the faucet so that he could drink from a running source of water. (Yes, he's trained me well.) He appeared to have reached Nirvana.

I could especially relate to my new contented cat because I was experiencing the same "flick the switch" phenomenon. Two weeks ago, I reached a level of calm amidst the uncertainty and chaos of my life. Yesterday Dr. Forman said that he knew that I was eager to finish treatment so that I could "get on with my life." He had good reason to say that because calendar, control and returning to "normal" have been three of the most important aspects of my life up until now. I didn't have time to tell him about my "transformation" and how I was already getting on with my life during the treatment and testing and waiting.

This is not to say that I'm operating under the illusion that my new found "nowness" is permanent. As a matter of fact, just hours after bragging to a friend about Heather's healthy adjustment, we discovered that he had made a getaway. He managed to scratch away at the latch on a living room window screen until he could break free. Had he been planning the "great escape" during those long stretches of contented purring?

Like clockwork, Heather returned home at nightfall and slept by my side. George fixed the loose living room latch while I braced myself for a rerun of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

But, in spite of the relapse, Heather quickly found his center.
Right now, he's calmly purring on my lap as I write this post.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: In which cat stage are you?


Paula L. Johnson said...

Which cat stage? Sorry, none of the above, but possibly cattywompus. However, after two weeks of a cold/flu, I am dog-tired.

Breakfast Friday morning was a pick-me-up. Did you enjoy your food or what? You pretty much licked your platter clean. To that I say YAY!

Janet Aird said...

I'm an indoor cat, a recovering scaredy cat. The thing about being forced to experience the other side, whether in or out, is that although it usually comes with a lot of pain, we can see things we never realized existed before, or never appreciated how wonderful they are. I don't think a person's - or a cat's - nature will change, though, we're just likely to be better balanced than before.

Susan Carrier said...

Yep, after two days of fasting followed by one day without an appetite, I was ready to chow down on Friday. Yummy!

Janet, you're right about cats and people. We struggle. We adapt. Sometimes we revert back. But at the end of the day we come out better balanced.

Cricket said...

I am in the contented stage--almost Nirvana. I'm half a world away in another very foreign but very intriguing culture and loving every new and different and strange and stimulating moment. Standing inside the Kremlin while Putin and the French prsident spar away. Passing the American Embassy (Spaso House) while Condi Rice sits inside, casting aspersions on Putin's effectiveness to the world press. In between cities, plowing the ancient waters of the Volga in the driving snow.

From Russia with love--

Susan Carrier said...

C, I can almost hear your purring in Altadena!

Mrs. Duck said...

I'm an indoor dog who is forced, five days a week, to be an outdoor dog! (Cats make me sneeze.)

I'd say you're a natural cat, at home everywhere you go. Does that make you a cat with a chameleon spirit? You're so evolved that you can evolve from day to day, to meet what comes next. When you revert, you revert to being open to everything.

I wish I could be like that, but I might as well wish I could fly.

Mrs. Duck said...

Thanks Paula, for your lesson from "Identity Changes for Dummies"! I've never been good at reinventing myself!

Susan Carrier said...

"You're so evolved that you can evolve from day to day, to meet what comes next. When you revert, you revert to being open to everything."

Thanks, Karen, but I think you give me way too much credit.

I must credit you for a big part of my "evolution." The book you gave me, Peace is Every Step, has been an inspiration. I love simple books that are easy to read and, more important, easy to apply to our lives.