We humans are a fragile bunch.
A day that starts in sunshine can take a sinister swerve for something as small as That Look from the boss, or a shirt that makes you look all muffin-toppy, or a replay of the MTV VMAs on the morning news.
Cats have no such vulnerabilities.
Bindi came to Tabby’s Place long after her salad days had been tossed. At age eight (human equivalent: fiftyish), she would be the target demographic for all sorts of youth-restoring, wrinkle-smoothing creams.
Except that she’s a cat.
At age eight, Bindi would also typically be squarely in the harder-to-adopt camp. People often love, but more often overlook, cats of a certain age.
Except that she’s Bindi.
In her earliest days at Tabby’s Place, Bindi was timid in the way so many Exceptional Circumstances Program cats are. Coming from a loving private home, the Bindster was rightly overwhelmed by the 125-ring Circus of Silly that is Tabby’s Place. As they make the transition from a private pad to the world’s wackiest feline dorm, many Exceptional Circumstances cats take their sweet time — weeks or months or more — to open themselves up to trust.
But this, this was Bindi.
The leggy tortie was only in Adoption Room #1 for a week or so before she found her place. Her place, it so happened, was the role of Tour Guide. On little two-color toes, Bindi would trot up to you as you arrived in her realm, face upturned and luminous. If you were entering Germany, she’d be saying “Guten tag!” If you were entering Disney World, she’d be saying “Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!” And if you were entering Norway, she’d be announcing, “I am Norwegian, from the land of Norweege.”
But you’d be entering a small, cozy land where Bindi was queen, so she’d simply greet you, “Brrrrrp?”
Figure-eights and figure-sixteens would ensue around your legs. There would be rolling. There would be belly-revealing. There would be love.
What there would not be is a whisker of concern about Bindi’s age.
So it happened that, just three months after her arrival, Bindi beat the odds. The old grey mare may not be what she used to be, but the ageless tortie phenomenon is all that and 500,000 bags of chips. (Air-popped with organic sea salt. But I digress.) Bindi has found her forever home.
Bindi’s story enjoyed the conclusion we love best — adoption — but there’s something here even for the cats who become Tabby’s Place lifers. Much as we twist and twinge and wring our hands over cats not being adopted, the cats…don’t.
Posey does not behold her aged face in the window and tearfully sing “Memory.” Cookie does not weep for her lost younger days. Mango does not anguish over why he’s been at Tabby’s Place for seven years, nor does he feel the need to buy a box of Touch of Grey for Men. Edward is not contemplating plastic surgery to make himself look like “younger” (by which I mean “like petrified wood, or Robert Redford”).
As usual, the cats are not stressing it.
But age, and its crown of glory, are not the only things the cats can help us swallow here. I thought of this after Bindi’s adoption, amidst a conversation with Violet. Our pumpkin-shaped torbie has unmistakably, unassailably become one of my Favorite Living Beings In The History of Beings, and she is as wise as she is bodacious. Sure enough, as I entered the Suite B solarium, Violet’s basketballesque form hurtled from the top of a carrier to my side, her huge mouth “Maaooww!”ing all the way. We cuddled and talked. (She talked. Without coming up for air. I listened.) And I realized, looking at the Georgia cat who’s gone from delicate teenager to rotund rock star, Violet, I have never loved you more. And nothing you could do — from aging to swatting to getting too enormous to fit through the cat tunnel — could possibly make me love you less.
Bindi’s new family glimpsed that future in their aging tortie. We glimpse it in the eyes of each cat we love. So why, I wonder, is it so much easier for us to unconditionally love the cats than each other…or ourselves?
In honor of Bindi’s adoption, let’s do this, homies: come age or greys or dark of night, let’s recognize the swans.
Even if they’re in the mirror.*
*Fellas, this means you too. Technically swan fellas are called “cobs.” But I don’t want you to think I’m calling you “the hard inedible center of a husk of corn.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Photo credits from de top: Volunteer Jess, Flangela, VolJess x 2, Flangela.
Addendum: Friends and fiends, it has been brought to my attention that “tossed salad” is apparently a euphemism for something very vile and vulgar. I do not know exactly what that would be, nor do I have any desire to check the Urban Dictionary to find out. I must, however, make it clear that I meant no such rude crudeness in writing about Bindi’s salad days above. For heaven’s sakes. Anyone who knows me knows that I am innocent to the point of ridiculousness. And for the 428,000 people who have asked me, “salad days” comes from Shakespeare and refers to one’s idealistic youth. Let’s keep it clean, folks.