When the cat fails at something…
There is an old Far Side cartoon captioned “Nature scenes we rarely see.” In it, a six-point buck leaping over a fallen log gets his antlers ensnared in a low branch. The panel cuts right through the anthropocentric need to view animals and nature in general as this perfect ballet existing for our edification and pleasure.
That is nonsense. Animals are just folks in funny suits trying to get from point A to point B with the least amount of mistakes. And just like I have driven all the way to gym with my iPhone on the roof of my car, animals mess up all the time.
To the untrained eye, my tortie cat Kim is perfection. [All cats are perfection, unlike those slobbering suck-ups without the good sense to retract their claws on wood floors, the dogs.] First of all, she’s quite beautiful with artistically asymmetrical tortie markings punctuated by deep green eyes. However, it takes her a good thirty seconds to get her face together before perfection. During this time, she is how I am 90% of the time. Thirty seconds of bonding over our imperfections.
Then there’s the elegance. She’s like a prima ballerina, but with a tail for extra stabilization. But…
She spent the first 18 months of her life in a tiny cage at the vet’s office. Consequently, she can hardly jump. She needs to commando herself onto the bed, jumping onto the side of the bed and pulling herself up, paw over paw. Not only is this amusing, it also serves to remind that I can overcome obstacles too —once I stop laughing at the cat.
Last night, when we were fighting on the destroyed Crate and Barrel ottoman that serves as her Octagon, she fell off. This was not one of her calculated leaps off the ottoman to re-gather herself on the floor before lunging teeth-first into my forearm. This was a mistake. Looking into her eyes as she realized she was going to go down, I hope I was able to offer her solace as all certainty collapsed around her. I could see time slowing down for her, like how a car accident seems to take and hour to play out. I expected her to give up on the game/ultraviolence. But all it took her to collect her certainty was fifteen seconds under the bed. I wish I could get my shit together with fifteen seconds in a tight space.
After Labor Day, I returned from my sister’s lake cottage with two wicker plant stands. I placed them in the middle of the dining room. About five minutes later, when Kim was feeling her Cheerios and turbo-ing thru the house, she ran full speed into one of the stands. It went about two feet in the other directions while she went a foot back. Then she retreated into the previous room… and bolted thru the dining room, steering clear of the offending wicker. After she was sure she could make it thru, she returned to rub her face all over the plant stand. Accept your defeats; regroup; win; literally rub face in it.
When an animal messes up, I am closer to being one with creation.