It’s a quote that stays compelling even after it’s been Pinterested to death:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
This epigram might seem best suited to seventh-graders and dueling Bridezillas. But if that were the case, why would it have come from the lips of that rough-riding trust-buster of yore, one Teddy Roosevelt?
Let’s keep it real, kittens. You know and I know that we are not immune to “compare and despair.” (I will overcome my allergy to cliches for the ones that really really hit home.) If you’re reading this blog, you love three-legged cats with explosive diarrhea, so the odds are good that you’re not lusting for your neighbor’s Lexus. But you and me, we have our ugly little envies, our insecurities and unscratched itches. We feel both swell and dandy until we look over there and see what we ain’t.
Married to Marcus Mumford.*
Endowed with one’s own fiefdom.
I was under the strong impression that this weakness, this “me want what you got” syndrome, was limited to lower species like sea cucumbers and hagfish and humans. Surely, cats were above competition and envy.
Perhaps most of them are. But, alas for the cats of Tabby’s Place, it seems we wobbly humans may be a bad influence. Case in point: the girls who just wanna be Bear.
You’ve already met our ursine-named tabby phenomenon. All enormous eyes and tufty ears and talky mouth, Bear is a cat of uncommon coolness. Even a little underweight and a little out of her element, Bear is an effortless “It” girl, irresistible to pet and love and talk to all the live long day.
Frankly, if I were an elderly cat, I would want to be Bear. And, if I were a young cat, I’d want to be elderly just so I could be Bear.
A few weeks after landing in Jonathan’s office, Bear was diagnosed with eye issues. Specifically, high blood pressure had caused Bear’s retinas to partially detach, leaving her almost blind. Fortunately, things hadn’t progressed so far that we couldn’t reverse the issue. Treating Bear’s blood pressure relieved her retinas, and today she’s seeing everything, perhaps better than she has in years. (We keep apologizing to her for all the human foibles on display here. What has been seen cannot be unseen, and Bear has seen unmentionable events.)
We thought that was the end of the Retinal Riot Of 2017.
We underestimated Ali‘s envy.
All the way across the sanctuary, another super senior was struggling with her self-image. Eighteen-year-old Ali is the oldest cat in the building, so you might think she’d feel secure in her specialness. Snow-white and sunset-pretty, Ali is allllll that, 1998-style. But with Bear in town, Ali apparently felt vulnerable. We were paying an awful lot of attention to this new old girl. Bear was such a funky reggae party that Ali felt awfully…pale. It was enough to steal an old cat’s joy.
So what did Ali do?
She detached her retinas, too.
OK, go on; tell me it was a coincidence. Sure, Ali developed high blood pressure too. Sure, it all happened just at the same time it hit Bear, after we went through years with no entries in the Retinal Detachment Event Log. Sure, Ali’s issue was just as resolvable as Bear’s — no permanent damage, no devastating drama.
But I’m sure of my story, kittens; Ali wanted to battle Bear for our affections, and she’d use her own eyeballs to do it.
Still skeptical? Meet Sugar.
“Sug” is fifteen years of age — like Bear — and a new girl at Tabby’s Place — also like Bear.
Sug is also almost indistinguishable from Bear.
I’m not kidding. Look for yourself.
Now, this might sound absurd, but Boom told Pepita, and Pepita told Rebel, and Rebel told Bucca, and Bucca told me, that Sugar used to be a kitten. She was only two pounds, way back when. At that time, she looked nothing like Bear whatsoever. But then, guess what she did? She got older and older and older, and one day she was Bear’s doppelganger.
You can’t make this stuff up.
So let this all be a cautionary tale. Do not let comparison steal your joy. Do your best not to compare and despair. But know that we’ll understand if you, too, really really wanna be Bear.
*We can’t all be me. Sorry.