There are things we probably should have realized sooner than we did.
I should have realized, when my high school boyfriend chose Tubthumping by Chumbawamba as “our song,” that this relationship would ultimately fall down and not get up again.
You should have realized, when your blind date introduced himself as Joey “Spicy Meat-a-Ball” Spinelli, that he wouldn’t share your love of microbiotic vegan cuisine.
But sometimes, it takes superior intelligence to see what’s in front of us. Sometimes, it takes a cat.
If not for Felix, it could have been years — years — before we dunderheads realized that the sink in the Tabby’s Place lounge really ought to be dripping 23 hours a day.
At first our tuxedo tutor was patient, leaping into the sink and chirping softly. Pardon me, would you kindly moisten my brow?
But we were slower than he expected. We’d give him a few moments of waterfall bliss, only to regress to dunderheadedness and close the tap.
Felix did his best to keep his patience, his meow getting just a little strident. No, no, I don’t mean turn it on for five minutes. I mean turn it on. ON. Permanently.
The poor cat tried, really he did. Every time anyone entered the lounge, he’d spring to life, sprinting over and butting them with his dripping-wet forehead. Look. Look. See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me. I am fresh from the sink, but the sink is now off. THE SINK MUST BE TURNED ON OR MY FOREHEAD WILL DRY OUT. Do you realize the gravity of this situation?
We did not.
And then, the pipes froze.
Being a bigger man than we, Felix refused to gloat. But, it would have been well within his rights to cock an eyebrow and comment, See what happens? I’m just trying to save you from yourselves.
We’ve learned to listen to Felix.
Down the hall, Angel had her own remedial work in progress. If not for Angel, a decade may have droned on before we’d opened the door.
Angel, you may recall, lives in the Tabby’s Place lobby. In aforementioned lobby, she received continual fawning, ceaseless trays of canned goosh, and no fewer than 400,000 beds. If there be a heaven, it is rather a lot like the lobby.
But Angel is a selfless soldier in the battle for social justice, and so she left her easy life for the sake of cats everywhere. Rising from the couch, with increasing resolve, she marched to the closed door of the Community Room…and transformed into a calico battering ram.
Bang. Bang. BANGBANGbang.
“What is that?” asked a dimwitted human on the other side of the barricade.
“Maybe Vikings?” suggested another, dimmer-witted human.
“MAAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOW!” Angel released her war whoop. “MR. ROSENBERG, TEAR DOWN THAT DOOR!”
“Ohhhhh,” one of the less stupid humans said. “Do you think a cat wants to come in?”
The door was opened, the calico flew in, and Peachy flew out, crowing “Scotland is fdeeeeee!”
Ten thousand repeat performances later, we got it. The cats like — nay, need — an open-door policy. And, wouldn’t ya know, letting them breeze in and out of the lobby and Community Room has created something strangely resembling peace. Maggie need not maul Mario when she can just bounce into another room. Peachy can stop throwing shade on the kittens when it’s possible to escape them.
Once again, the freedom fighters prevailed. Justice would roll down.
But lest you think our whiskered revolutionaries are short-sighted, consider this: the cats have helped us to realize a few things they hate. Sometimes justice hurts.
For the first several years of Tabby’s Place, we had no fewer than four actual black holes on the premises. Between the suites and the solaria were clear plastic chutes, accessible to non-felines only by a sliding door on the side.
The door did not open all the way, leaving a space of six inches where a cat could become completely inaccessible to reality. At medication time, this was a travesty and a tragedy. Shy cats would regularly retire to the black holes for weeks at a time.
All those years, when a cat squeezed fourteen pounds of fur into a six-inch square, we thought they were mocking us and baiting us and otherwise making our lives difficult. We’d grumble helpful comments, like, How am I supposed to give you your pred in there? and Nobody can socialize you in the tooooooobe!
They’d blink back, amazed we didn’t get it.
For years, this not getting of it continued. Then, finally, it clicked. We need a different kind of tube.
The cats had simply been demonstrating a flaw in our architecture. Clearly we weren’t going to grasp it without their assistance. It was a public service for them to squeeze into that infernal space, hissing and spitting and excreting when we attempted to access them. A labor of love, you might say.
Today, those tubes have been replaced with versions that detach completely from the walls and ceiling. Even if you take your grandma to the Magic Mike 2, you’ll never see shock and awe quite like that of a cat who thinks he’s foiled our plan, only to have the earth move under his feet.
And to think that they’re the ones who made it happen.
I can’t wait to see what obvious insights the cats will show us in the years ahead.