Quick: tell me your favorite words of all time.
I’ll go first: Beloved. Ubiquitous. Delightful. Ginormous. Luminous. Irrevocable.
Mine all happen to describe cats.
“Beloved” is too obvious to require any annotation, but you know I’m going to give it to you anyway. To truly know a cat is to love a cat. They come by their belovedness gracefully, naturally, gliding through the butter of our hearts just by being.
But cats can turn the mirror on “beloved” like few other beings. To truly know a cat is to be reminded — astonished, unsettled, yet ultimately convinced — of your own belovedness. We humans limp along in our love, and even our sweetest selflessness is tinged with fear and imperfection. But a cat who loves — and they all do — is in full command of her kindness. She sees you with clear eyes, and she will gaze and purr and heave affection at you (even if only through across-the-room blinks) until she forces you to see that you are, in fact, beloved.
“Ubiquitous” is the perpetual state of the population at Tabby’s Place, one place on the globe that points to the tidal wave of cats in all places. We have 100-120 beloved beasts in our keep at any given time, but we could easily accept thousands more on a daily basis. Until there’s a home for every cat, every where, the funnest-sounding word is unfortunately, unfunnily too apt for our favorite species.
“Delightful” is self-evident, even in those shy, slinky selves who don’t let us touch them or talk to them without a wall of hissing. Just like a cat can’t make himself unbeloved, he can’t drench his own delightfulness in enough fear or anger to cease being full of the stuff. And so, we are full of it too, and it’s one swaggering superabundance of divine delight.
“Ginormous” does not apply to all cats, except in the larger sense that it does. Not every feline can top twenty pounds. The Hoagies and Angelos and Elijahs will always loom large, titans of the species, mastodons who mew. We are shamelessly smitten with their enormity, even as we make the necessary disclaimers that Cat Obesity Is Bad(TM).
But every cat, even the hamster-sized handfuls of kittlitude, is ginormous. “Ginormous” is not a real word (so they tell me, and so I do not care one smidge), and “small” is not a real state of being for a cat. Each of them — the aged and the new, the rampagers and the rosebuds, the colossuses and the crumpets — contains worlds.
“Luminous” worlds, in fact. You’d be hard pressed to find yourself a feline incapable of emitting great light. It’s one of those strange phenomena that self-proclaimed “non-cat-people” can’t see: every single friggin’ cat glows.
The shuddering feral. The belly-rub glutton. The kitten in your palm and the senior on your pillow. They radiate warmth and light that could immediately solve the climate crisis, if they’d be willing to power our Subarus and our cities. (They are not willing. They are prideful beasts, as well they should be.) But they are quite committed to solving our other crises, glow by inexplicable glow.
And so we find ourselves willing them to be “irrevocable,” ours to keep, incapable of departing our fragile lives that need them so much. They will depart. Their departures will never get easier. (In some ways, they actually get harder, but that’s another blog post.) But the bonds we share — iron and silk and steel and honey — cannot be taken from us.
Not by death. Not by years. Not even by the melting of memory itself. The love between us and our beloved, ubiquitous, delightful, ginormous beings of light is irrevocable.
And so, then, is our joy…and our call.
To have loved a cat, even one, is to be charged with a mission of love for the rest of your days. Not everyone can run a Tabby’s Place or donate one hundred billion dollars or even adopt a cat, but every one of us can give ourselves over to the love that writes the stories that count.
You are a word and a force and a beacon. So I beseech you: bring the full ginormity of your love and your delight and your undimmable light to whatever this day asks of you.
And don’t you dare forget that you are irrevocably beloved.