What can we learn about cats and life and souls from Development software?
As it turns out, a lot.
Longtime readers of this blog will know that most of my time at Tabby’s Place is spent raisin’ funds and thankin’ the people who keep our lights on and our cats fed. Felis Catus is surely my happy place, where you kindly indulge my mad musings, but much of my day is spent crafting appeals and mucking around in spreadsheets and asking you for dollars like a Development Director is supposed to do. (OK, actually that stuff makes me happy, too.)
Recently, my Development duties sent me to the furthest reaches of our Development database, where you’ll find the names of folks who have never actually donated to Tabby’s Place. Somehow or another, they’ve ended up in our files; somehow or another, they’ve managed to resist our cats’ charms and my sparkling appeal letters.
I promise this is going somewhere.
Eventually, such people must be deleted. I know; this sounds harsh. But if you have received four years of beautiful letters about Tabby’s Place, delighted in our cats on alllllllllll the social media, and still never given, at some point we graciously accept that you were never ours in the first place…and we let you go.
Which means I delete you from the database.
Unless, that is, the database says “no.” Here’s what happens. One account can be connected to another by a “Relationship.” So if your Aunt Gladys donated to Tabby’s Place for your birthday in 2004, you’d be in our files and tied to Gladys. If I went to delete you, I’d get a message along these lines:
“You cannot delete this account, because it has a Relationship.”
Now, of course I can delete the Relationship tie and then nuke you. But I must confess; doing so feels all kinds of icky, every time.
And, of course, it all made me contemplate cats, and us.
The cats we take at Tabby’s Place are, not to put too fine a point on it, generally the most likely to be deleted at other shelters. Whether due to age, medical condition, peppery personality or just the cruelties of fate, they are first in line to be X’d out.
But something leaps in and stops the giant eraser. Someone connects with someone who connects with the cat who connects with us, and through a web of relationships — maybe whisper-thin, but real — the cat is suddenly known. You cannot delete this account, because it has a Relationship.
These just-born bonds bring a cat to Tabby’s Place, and then it’s just one big sloppy relationshipalooza. Even the nastiest snarler finds someone or five who will adore him; even the sickliest wisp finds a multitude of cheerleaders and champions. Every last one is loved as though she was the only one; every wandering star is wrapped up in Relationship; every island becomes a cherished resident of our Island of Misfit Toys.
Alone is over.
You’re utterly undeletable.
You cannot delete this account, because it has a Relationship.
Note that, although we have many cats who excel in love and grace and beauty and impressiveness of all kinds, this is not what saves them — not even a little. They are not loved because they are lovable; they are lovable because they are irrevocably loved.
Whatever they do.
Whatever they don’t do.
They are enfolded in a Relationship that kills every threat of being tossed aside, and gives life to every dream of being forever held. There is nothing left to prove; there is no danger of deletion; the big eraser is no longer dangling above.
And sometimes, on ordinary days, the cats remind us: we’re exactly the same.
Someone, somewhere, loves us.
We cannot be removed, deleted, nuked or neglected in the final account.
Not Nina, who weebles and wobbles and does fall down.
Not Wilbur, who gnashes his teeth and gnashes our nerves and loves with all his deranged might.
Not Alfred, who returns our love with horrified side-eye and shrieks from the underworld.
Not Anka, or Bronn, or Patty, or Rose, or Alice, or you, or me.
Not at our most maddening or our most gladdening.
Even if we don’t feel it, even if we don’t give a fig about it, we are safe in a Love that will not let us go. And so we are spurred on to give the same to all accounts, worthy or otherwise. None of us is worthy; all of us are worthwhile; you cannot delete this account, because it has a Relationship.
Feel the depth of your connections today, kittens, and remember that it’s your bonds that save you — not from my “delete” key (wouldja donate already?), but from the isolation that can never touch your depths.