“He’s a great cat, but he doesn’t show well.”
We say it at least once a week.
Show well, adjective [shoh wel] 1. to exude friendliness, enchant adopters, embody “adorable” from your fuzzy-edged ears to your jellybean toes: Mr. Boombastic* purred in the adopters’ arms right away; he shows so well.
I have zero teaspoons of judgment for adopters who only have eyes for cats who show well. If we’re all on this earth to give and receive love, why not give first dibs to the first creature to love you effusively?
I don’t think most of us — I include myself here — even realize our preferential option for the stellar showers. Unknowingly reading from the same script, adopter after adopter after adopter will lean in and tell me, twinkly-eyed and conspiratorial, “I don’t choose my cats, you know. I let them choose me.”
I could finish the thought for them, having thought it myself and heard it 12 times already this week, but I don’t. “I’m going to just sit down in the suite and go with the cat who chooses me.”
What they forget — what I forget — what all of us, in our ache to be chosen, forget — is that this means the confident chooser-cats always get chosen.
And so it goes: hearts full of love go overlooked if they stay undercover. The cats who show up first, show out loudest, show well, assure themselves forever homes.
But then there’s the cat who’s been showing spectacularly well for longer than Paul Simon has been making spectacular music. I’m talking about the youngest yahoo in Adoption Room #3, Luna “Don’t Call Me A Golden Girl” Rosenberg.
If you look up “showing well” in the International Encyclopedia of Tabby’s Place, you’ll find a life-sized, iridescent, signed photo of Luna.
Luna, lithe and little and lively-eyed at all times (she sleepeth not) is a living lesson in showing well.
Step 1: Anticipate adopters’ arrival as early as possible. If you can (Luna can), intuit that they are coming at least 15 minutes ahead of time, so that, when that door cracks open, you’re ready to…
Step 2: …spring forward with all your strength, straight in the direction of those beautiful humans. If they think they’ve been appreciated before, they ain’t seen nothing yet. You love them already. You love them more than money. (Luna loves money.) If you’ve timed things right and achieved peak speed, it should only be one second before you’re one inch from your target. All the better to…
Step 3: …in every color of the moonlight, with every fiber of your being, convey that love is a many-splendored thing, and you are love’s main ambassador. Rub those legs wobbly. Meow. Purr loudly enough to reset the humans’ heart rates. (This is Luna’s core competency.) Widen those eyes, all planetary and ponderous, and gaze gaze gaze.
The humans should be reduced to silly putty now, stroking your face and cooing like dunderheaded doves. If not, it’s time for the nuclear option:
Step 4: Ascend humans. Activate leg extension, stretching yourself far, far beyond the normal length of a normal cat. If you try, standing on your jellybeans, you can nearly touch the humans’ faces with your perfect, perfect paws. Or at least their knees. Either way, do not fail to communicate that you need them. You love them. You love them as no one else has ever loved them before. And no one else ever, ever will.
Lovely, lovable Luna has been doing these four steps as long as we’ve known her. It’s a samba she can sashay back and forth in her sleep. It is everything we mean by “showing well,” and a whole lot we never knew to expect.
It is exquisite love-artistry.
And yet it hasn’t been enough. Yet.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Luna has a tendency to tack on an optional Step 5: Bite human. Sometimes Step 6: Repeat. Vigorously. And, when circumstances dictate, Step 7: Start belting Orion, just for the fun of it. Thus far, #5-7 have had an unfortunate way of erasing the effects of #1-4.
But Luna has determined not to learn hopelessness.
Day after day, she shows up.
She shows herself.
She shows well.
And I believe the day will come when she has something to show for all her efforts.
Well, actually she already has our collective love and admiration and googly-eyed gushery. (Luna wants more.)
Meantime, let’s live Luna-like, kittens. Let’s be love’s ambassadors. Nobody ever guaranteed instant results, not even for the ones who show well. There will be stalls and switchbacks and setbacks. But even in the waiting, we can show this grasping world a whole lot of light.
*No, to our great shame, Tabby’s Place has not had a cat named Mr. Boombastic. Yet.