You smack yourself upside the head every time, but still it happens. And happens. And waits a few years, then happens again.
The cat in question may love you, hate you, find you approximately as interesting as unflavored oatmeal. No matter. You are taken by a tide stronger and taller than yourself, and so you roll helplessly.
The Cat may remind you of someone, singing a hint of a faraway song whether she’s making muffins in your lap or giving you inglorious grief for daring to enter her domain.
The Cat may make you feel like a child, but in the good way, the innocent way of locking eyes with another and knowing you’re each other’s other.
This sort of mystical mumbojumbo isn’t supposed to still be happening to grizzled Tabby’s Place girls and boys. Staff or volunteer, you build up — you’re supposed to build up — a scaly resistance to such frippery. It’s dangerous letting yourself still be vulnerable to that towering tide after five, eight, ten years. This is the way people end up with five, eight, ten cats.*
But if you think you’re in control of “letting” yourself go, you need to let some new light into your head.
I wish I could tell you that all this musing is theoretical through and through, but it’s completely personal. I have been rolled flat by one Pancake Rosenberg.
Pancake places herself squarely within the Humans Smell Like Feet camp of the cat universe. Which is to say, she’s not super-duper-keen on me, or anyone else of my species. She loves cats more than maple syrup, and she loves life when she gets to live it on her terms. Which is to say, beyond my touch.
But something about Pancake has puddled me into melted butter, brainless and helpless in her gaze. Is it because she looks like my parents’ late lovemonster of a cat, Snowy? Is it because her name itself knocked me flat? Is it because, from high atop her ivory tower, she will chirp merrily back at me as long as I keep talking with her? Is it because, in some strange sense, I identify with a cat who can’t quite fit in wherever she goes — too sweet for the outdoors, too anxious for the in?
Am I really still so foolish as to think there’s a “why”?
Make no mistake; my love for Pancake is of a different form than my life-size, whole-soul devotion to Bucca or Webster or Grady. But love comes in all kinds and colors, and there is something about the breakfast-named beauty in Suite C that has me whole.
These hearts are ours to lose. May we never get so thoroughly pan-fried that we can keep them to ourselves.
*And may we never be Actual Morons when it comes to cat numbers. Landlord, largeness of cat personalities and littleness of condo keep my feline family at 2, and we all need to know our “right-for-now number.” Therein ends speech.