At its best, being grown up is having a second childhood. You can have all the fun with a side of wisdom, and, hopefully, you can enjoy some seriously cool toys.
But, it takes time to get there, for people and felines alike.
Kitten or kid, it all starts with phase 1: Education. Education is NECESSARY, because we all start out knowing exactly nothing.
Picture the scene (true story!):
Little kid: I thought you were getting ice cream.
Slightly older kid: A shake is a form of ice cream.
Me (in my head): You have to learn that a shake is a form of ice cream!
Now, picture this (slightly less true, but you get it):
Kitten: What is this thing that is stuck to my butt? Can I catch it?
Other Kitten: Whatever it is, it’s fun!
Whether you follow the human-style pre-K to grade 12 route (or even continue on to college and advanced degrees), or if you are taught by mama cat through demonstration and occasional swats, we all, hopefully, end up knowing something about how to behave, how to live, and how the world is…and what is or is not stuck to our butts.
Then, once we’ve gotten our baseline (or advanced or superduper advanced or now you’re just showing off) education, phase 2 begins. This phase is Maturation.
Now, picture this (entirely made up):
Young adult person: Having a job is good. Now, I can afford my food, housing, and transportation.
Or, this (highly probable that this is also made up):
Young cat: This thing that is stuck to my butt has been caught and now requires grooming. Oh, toe beans also require grooming. Oh, and you, other cat, you too require grooming. Time to commence grooming.
During Maturation, we continue to learn new things and also gain more nuanced understandings of what we learned during Education. We get better at navigating our world, whether it’s managing finances (humans) or maneuvering around the baby gate (felines) when walking through the lobby at Tabby’s Place.
Humans get wiser and better able to avoid conflicts with other people. We also are more judicious about when not to pet Anka because he’s in a mood to trap the unwary into thinking he wants that belly rubbed. He does not.
(FYI – Anka is an awesome, people-loving cat. But, sometimes he likes to remind us that he was, is, and will always be a Turkish street cat. Beautiful, soft, lovely, but also tough and strong willed. LOVE ANKA!! [That is both command from Anka and personal feeling from yours truly, but I digress.])
For cats, the wisdom that comes with Maturation can be as simple as knowing when to give Anka’s area a wide berth to avoid being further educated by Anka, or knowing when to forsake a toy because it’s dinner time.
(FYI – Anka is an awesome, cat-disliking cat. He likes to remind other cats that he was, is, and will always be a Turkish street cat. Beautiful and best appreciated from a distance.)
At last, fairly well educated and reasonably mature (I am NOT giving up my Babies Yoda or Superman collections), we embark on phase 3 of our epic journey: Rediscovery.
Consider this scenario (based on actual reality):
Adult human: I don’t need this particular, crappy and particularly crappy job. I’m going to find a job that I enjoy, and reassess my needs and values to live the life I really want.
Also, this scenario (also based on actual reality):
Adult cat: WHEEEEEEE!! I LOVE THIS THING THAT IS STUCK TO MY BUTT!! CHASING IT!!!
Rediscovery is a time when humans or cats can take a good look around them, examine what they have, and figure out if it’s right for them and what to do with what they’ve got. Lately, this phase for humans is drowning with cliches like “simplifying” and “finding one’s joy.”
Cats eschew all cliches.
Once a cat or a human realizes the true secret to a life well lived is in living well (cats get there much younger than people do), we can all chill for a while simply doing the living thing — breathing, and moving, and going, and doing so at a good pace, tailored to no one but ourselves. In the best cases, we hang in this phase for the largest portion of our lives: productive, happy, helpful, and comfortable.
But, then, we get older, and we enter phase 4: The Golden Years.
Preferred scenario (not required to wait until phase 4):
Older adult human: I’m going to fix myself a nice hot cup of tea and sit in this comfy chair with a blanket and a cat on my lap.
Preferred scenario (absolutely will not wait until phase 4):
Older adult cat: I’m going to wait until my human is seated on that chair with a blanket in place and get comfortably settled on that lap.
If we’re lucky, we get ample glimpses of The Golden Years throughout our lives, whether human or feline.
The important thing is to know that, whatever phase we’re in, we have so much to enjoy. No matter how old we are, we have so much to give. And, no matter where we are, if we make a lap, some cozy cat, hopefully a forever-homed Tabby’s Place cat, will be very happy to fill it.
As to cat butts, may they never give up the chase.