Thursday, March 10, 2011

cat connections

You may have heard it said, that the way to a cat guy's heart is through the tummy.

I can tell you that this is true! And apparently Rose knows this as well. Tuesday morning, she was lying in the cat bed on top of the dishwasher and I was petting her gently. She feels safe in this location and often is approachable there. I had just started to pet her when she just flopped over and asked me to pet her soft tummy. Of course I did! She purred away as we both soaked up the loves. She even mixed in a few little nose bops in the love fest. It was delightful and filled my heart with joy. So what if it made me late for work!

My work involves trying to connect with people and in particular, helping them connect more with their own heart. I had sat for 40 minutes with this fellow, looking for windows into his heart where we might connect but had made little ground. Having remembered a few weeks ago that his face lit up when he mentioned his cat, I simply asked, "tell me about your cat." I had found his heart.

Tuesdays are the day for errands and the occasional haircut. Haircuts are one of those things in life, like changing the oil in the car, it's gotta be done, but I don't get much enjoyment out of it. For several years now, I have been going to a classy walk-in place, where you may get a different stylist each time. After getting through the challenges of communicating what I want for a haircut, comes the small talk time. Figuring out what to talk about can be a challenge.

The stylists always have a few personal pictures or stickers near their supplies. Scanning the items, I see pictures of cats and a sticker that says, "Purr More, Hiss Less." So, I ask if she has cats. She does. Then comes, endless conversation about her cats and how they make her happy. I sneak it bits about my cats too. Time is lost in the conversation and before I know it we are saying goodbye.

Later in the afternoon I found myself with a little bit of time, so I ran into a grocery store to pick up a few things. As I was standing in line to check out, the lady behind me starting offering a commentary of the items in my basket. In New England, where I am from, everyone knows to leave the people around you alone. There is never any "friendly" chatting in the check out line. Even though for the last 10 years I have lived in the super-friendly northwest where people are happy to chat you up in line, it still takes me by surprise. So, I politely bantered about the items in my basket and turned back around to signal the conversation was over. It was then she started with an extended commentary about the items in her cart. 

Figuring this was going to go on until the end of time, I realized I needed to steer the conversation out of banal-land and into something I could withstand. I seized my opportunity when I noticed she had cat food in her cart, I asked about her cat. Somehow she squeezed hours of story in only a few minutes, I think time had stopped. I learned all about Boris, her cat, a charcoal-gray cat with white paws. He had appeared on her apartment doorstep several years ago during a particularly nasty winter storm. She couldn't let him suffer and so took him in. She asked all around and no one recognized the cat, so she claimed him. Boris loves wet food with gravy and sometimes licks off the gravy leaving only the dryer morsels.

When Boris gets cold, the color of his paw fur turns from white to charcoal-gray. This was clearly the climax of the conversation as it required her repeating it a second time for emphasis. After what felt like hours, it was finally my turn to have my order rung up.

As I was leaving the store, I realized I had left with a lot more than what I had come in for. I left with gratitude in my heart for ladies like the one I met. She wasn't looking for a cat, but she opened her heart, her home and her wallet to help a cat in distress. In her generous giving she also received great blessings from her life with Boris. The world needs more people like her and less people who abuse their cats.

I am thankful to have a day of many different types of cat connections where the cat becomes a means for engaging with humans more fully. This is my goal for animals in my life. Too long have I lived where the goal was relationship with the animal in place of human connection. Animals can provide a wonderful catalyst for deeper connection.


  1. :) It is amazing that that small connection with such a small creature can give us another connection with the people around us. In the airport around us a week ago on the way to Utah my friends and I were excitedly talking about our trip to Best Friends and slowly I could overhear others talking about our conversation and then their own animal "adventures". I think it makes us all a little more human...

  2. Loved your post! I am a home care physical therapist and I often find that making friends with my new patients' cats is a quick way to establish trust with them. I also love that I get to spend my days meeting cats and dogs as well as their people!


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