“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”
I tried to pretend I didn’t hear the pitiful meows coming from the drainpipe under the front porch. I didn’t have the time, money, or patience to care for one more thing. I was doing well most days to keep the existing husband, daughter, business, dog, and cat alive.
But when you live in the country, you cannot let stray cats just hang about, as they become many stray cats in short order. When it comes to reproduction, cats are prolific breeders. One female cat has the ability to produce an average of about 12 kittens each year if not spayed. And female cats can reproduce basically throughout their entire life, meaning they can have kittens for up to 15 years. For those of you keeping track, that means one female cat could possibly have 180 kittens in her lifetime.
I knew I had to trap and fix this cat. Plus, I’m a mother, biologically designed to soothe and settle any crying baby. I couldn’t ignore those pathetic whimpers and mewling sounds.
A few days later, I noticed the humane trap I had set had a tiny ball of gray fur in it. I scooped up the trap – which he hadn’t even tripped, since he was so tiny – and brought the rascal indoors.
That was six weeks ago. As I write this, that tiny ball of fur with mesmerizing green eyes is sleeping on my feet, purring and occasionally biting my toe. His name is Monster Riff and I belong to him completely.
I have always loved cats. I love their independence, the way they carry themselves with regal dignity and complete indifference to the human race. Cat Stevens, my fat tuxedo, will occasionally deign to be petted, but it’s strictly on her terms.
But it has been over two decades since I’ve had a kitten and I’m besotted with Monster. For something that only now weighs a few scant pounds, he is heavy with Buddha-like wisdom.
Monster is the epitome of mindfulness. Mindfulness – as humans understand it – means to exist in the present moment with curiosity and contentment.. While I have to actively work at it, mindful seems to be Monster’s natural state.
In Monster’s world, there is no past or future. There is only the now, a moment to moment response to the calls of his animal body. When he is hungry, he eats until he is no longer hungry. When he is thirsty, he drinks water or the occasional lap of spilled milk. When he is sleepy, he rests. He plays with his whole being and grooms carefully, attending to every tiny nook and cranny he can reach (and, as the yoga master he is, there are no nooks or cranny too far out of his reach). Even when he is scared or angry, he feels through the emotion and moves on, no judgment, recrimination, or rehashing of the feeling.
Everything is interesting to a kitten. Monster explores every corner of his world with attentive curiosity. From a strange noise to a discarded rubber band, his curiosity keeps him entertained and engaged in every moment. We have prisms in our windows that throw refracted light across the floors every afternoon. He’ll catch sight of some dancing light on the floor and go into full saucer-eye mode like a Precious Moments figurine. Day after day he is entranced all over again by the same shaft of light. What a gift to see the old with fresh perspective.
Cats are a study in contentment. It takes very little to satisfy Monster. While we have bought him all the best cat toys filled with catnip or covered in feathers, he is just as content with the rubber band from the newspaper or the plastic top from the milk jug. I find myself comparing this to the human imperative to own the bigger and better. Monster doesn’t care about an iphone upgrade or expensive dinners out. He is thrilled by the pencil he found under the desk.
Cats can teach us so much about being a good human. It was a cosmic wink that my furry feline found my drainpipe. And then my heart.