Where can you find a square circle?
How much does purple weigh?
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
There are people who will try to answer such questions, but cats know better.
Maria presented a “problem” last fall. Her skinny, hardscrabble frame was an annoyance to some “neighbors,” albeit not of the kind that Mr. Rogers or truth or justice itself would give that name. Truer neighbors took compassion on the problem child, and time and magic and providence took Maria to Tabby’s Place.
But for slow creatures like us, it seemed to be a case of more Maria, more “problems.”
Typically, it’s not a towering task to get an underfed cat to gain weight. At Tabby’s Place, we’ve elevated “packing pounds on cats” to an art form (exhibit A: Suite C). Months with meager rations give way to a smashing smorgasbord and too many treats, and skinny seniors get gloriously globular girth all the time.
Not so Maria.
Despite sudden access to all sorts of scrumptiousness; despite an admirable appetite; Maria remained 98% lean, all hip bones and howling hollows. We were stumped. We were saddened. We suspected we had a serious problem.
We were dunderheads.
Other than very early, mild kidney disease (the “welcome to age 13+” prize bestowed upon most cats), Maria had no problems. Maria was just a skinny cat with a big, fat, luscious soul.
But, being humans, we needed something to wring our hands about. And so, we tackled the problem of where to put Maria. Was she too old, too frail, too generally gossamer-like to hack it in the Community Room or Lobby? After all, there were tough guys and cat-clobberers out there, and loud sounds, and strange people coming and going strangely. Could meek, weak Maria make it out there, or would we have to sequester her away in an office?
We may have worried about Maria’s mettle, but mighty Maria did not. Almost instantly at home in the Community Room, she ignored her collective neighbors and acquired one of the best and brightest window perches. Note that none of those cat-clobbering tough guys have even contemplated messing with Maria, five pounds of flaming torch.
Now, there are still people — bless their hearts — trying to solve Maria’s “problems.” Chief among these is Maria’s general non-interest in humans. It’s not that she doesn’t love us; it’s not even that she doesn’t like us, although her liking is punctuated by cranky sessions of “don’t touch me, you smell like Doritos, I am an elegant lady and you are a peasant.” (This is an exact translation from growls.)
It’s just that she has more important things on her mind. Things to which we will never, ever be privy.
This might strike some as a problem. Perhaps Maria bears the secret to paying the deficit, or painting the whole world pink, or acquiring infinite Halo Top. We’ll never know.
But slowly, dunderheadedly, we’re learning; to love someone exactly as she is, skinny and hardscrabble, an iron introvert, entirely and exquisitely herself.