Ages of sages haven’t been able to answer this question: why does your eyebrow sometimes twitch?
Or, if your name is Sadie Rosenberg,* why does your entire little grey face squiggle with spasms?
The latest in that line of sages, Dr. Fantastic himself (the neurologist at one of Tabby’s Place’s favorite veterinary emergency/specialty centers) was at a loss. This, in itself, is somewhat epic: Dr. Fantastic does not do “at a loss.” You don’t bear the name Dr. Fantastic for nothing, and the good doc has done well by such medical mystery cats as D’Art and Ike and Colleen.
But Sadie was to be his Waterloo.
One of the early alumni of Tabby’s Place’s trap-neuter-return (TNR) project at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, Sadie skipped the “R” of “TNR” to stay at the sanctuary instead. We weren’t about to return a minor to the prison.
Especially not a minor who wouldn’t…stop…twitching.
It wasn’t a seizure. It wasn’t a smile. It wasn’t even a perfectly understandable reaction to eating bad vegan cheese. It was just an almost-constant, constantly-weird squizzle of the nose and mouth and whiskers and eyes. Stare into the eyes of Sadie and she’d stare right back – blinking and ticking and contorting her face all the way. Stress her out a bit more by daring to pet her, and the twitching would tick to new heights of spasmic performance.
In the immortal words of this guy on Saturday Night Live, what’s up with that?
Our otherwise healthy young tabby aced her blood test and had no other symptoms, so it was off to Dr. Fantastic for some high-level brain talk. Surely it was something inside Sadie’s cranium making her squeeze her face into such funky squints and squirms.
Unable to find anything remotely wrong with Sadie, Dr. Fantastic shrugged his wise and sagacious shoulders and chalked her contortions up to the age-old fact: Tabby’s Place cats are a weird bunch. Weird…and wondrous.
I’m no sage, but I’ve got my own suspicions. From the day of her arrival at Tabby’s Place, it’s been no secret: Sadie’s the sensitive sort. You don’t twitch for nothing. You twitch because you’re worried about the sequester. You twitch because you’re worried about what happened to The Funky Bunch after Marky Mark moved on to being a Serious Actor. You twitch for a reason.
You twitch because you feel, deeply. And sometimes there’s just not enough vocabulary in your body-language arsenal to express all that emotion. Your brain surrenders and your body takes over and…you twitch.
And twitch, and twitch, and twitch.
Many adopters were understandably alarmed by Sadie’s squirmy face. “Is she okay?” Several asked. “Does she have Tourette’s Syndrome? Will she do that forever? Are you sure she’s okay?”
Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Yes, definitely.
Even in her shy days, Sadie’s twitching got attention – and maybe that’s the deepest reason for it. When we’re really honest, I think we all – feline and human and Great Mole Rat and otherwise – have a couple of twin neuroses: We’re afraid that everyone is looking at us. And we’re afraid that no one is looking at us.
When you twitch, you answer both of those anxieties.
Some looked away from Sadie’s sweet but spasmic face, unable to contemplate a cat so quirky. Others couldn’t help but stare, somewhere on the spectrum of horrified-to-enchanted by Sadie’s strangeness.
And then…then, there were The Ones who were meant to look upon her lovely face forever.
You guessed it: Sadie has twitched her way into a forever home.
As a bonus, she’s not twitching alone. Sadie’s own personal AwesomeAdopters are in the Top 10 Families Who Have Adopted Copious Numbers Of Tabby’s Place Cats. (We’re still working on getting PopCandy to do a slideshow on that one.) With this particular AwesomeAdoption, the family adds both Sadie and Pickles to their kindle, where they’ll join Itza and Samantha. The family just lost fellow alumna Maggie (no, no, not this Maggie, a pre-Maggie Maggie). What can you say for a family that adopts all Tabby’s Place cats, all the time?
That’s something to twitch about, that’s what.
*Every Tabby’s Place cat, for purposes of records and billing and other boring things, has the last name Rosenberg, shared with our Founder/Executive Director/Grand Pooh-Bah Jonathan. This makes for outstanding occasional mail items addressed to “Drita Rosenberg” or “HocusPocus Rosenberg” or, the all-time best, “Mr. FuzzyCat Rosenberg, With An Important Message That Can Save You Money On Your Blood Testing Supplies.”