Let us now pause to ponder the significance of stains.
I speak not of the stains that smirch the towels and blankets of Tabby’s Place, but those stains — alright, blots — that blotch psychological examinations.
The Rorschach test is an inky incident. This is both the source of its power and the reason it’s become a cliche. You know the drill: Unfold the paper, shplurted with ink, and tell me what you see. Is it a flower? A butterfly? Anatomically incorrect adult activity?
Based on your answer — or, more accurately, your series of interpretations of a very specific series of images — much will be revealed about your inner workings. Much.
Kinda scary, isn’t it?
Kinda hard to believe, isn’t it?
C’mon. Batman blotches will reveal your secrets? What’s next, predicting your lifespan by the number of rings on your cat’s tail?
A wise and stellar psychologist friend of mine* was equally skeptical. When she was made to study the Rorschach test in grad school, she joined the choir of scoffers. Even post-grad, her opinion was along the professional lines of, “This seems like a bunch of hoo-hah.”
Her wise and stellar supervisor knew all this. Being both wise and stellar, he made her administer the test to a patient about whom she knew nothing. Dubious but dutiful, she did so.
Suffice to say, the Rorschach revealed much. Over the years, the astonishing result repeated. Her conclusion: what you see matters.
There’s something to those stains. Which brings us to a very different Rorschach test.
Rorschach the cat arrived at Tabby’s Place with a deeply dubious psychological history. He’d been peeing outside the box, peeing and peeing and staining and spotting all the carpets. He caused much frustration. Much.
He also arrived with a name we couldn’t keep for some reason. (I honestly don’t recall; perhaps yet another Oreo, years after the simultaneous presence of four Oreos bade us to ban the name for all eternity?) Fortunately, he had a face that told a story and spoke a blotty, beautiful word.
As hard as it is to believe, Rorschach is even cuddlier than he is cute, sweeter than he is strange. He smittened us all up swiftly, making the looming Rorschach test even tougher. Would he “eliminate inappropriately” at Tabby’s Place? Would we be forced to tell adopters he was A Pe-er, unrepentant and unremitting?
The big, beautiful inkblot on Rorschach’s face offered no answers. All we could see in his eyes was love and the anticipation of love. Looking out at the world, he read hope and glory in every speckle, the possibility of kindness in every schmear.
Despite having lost his home and his humans, two stains that would shatter a smaller soul, Rorschach fully expected to be loved. Fortunately for him, we never impose a test before making a cat beloved, and so he was adored on arrival. If love was his target, his aim was true.
The same could be said for his litterbox skills. Days, then weeks went by with no sign of the infamous extra-curricular urination. Rorschach was many, many things, but he was not A Pe-er.
Not that any test can tell the total tale.
So we’ll keep reading our Rorschach, knowing and trusting that there’s deeper meaning in every stain and spot and blotch and blot. Let us only be careful and kind when we turn our eyes to stained cats and circumstances and humanbeans.
What you see matters.
*Who happens to be mi madre.