11 May The Stray Cat & The Pet Cat
In my recent travels, I met a little kitten. Rather, she found me. Or maybe, I was drawn to her. You get the idea. She looked almost like a miniature version of my Cookie. She warmed up to me immediately. Started rubbing on my feet, meowing around me, asking for petting.
I was missing my cat so much, this felt like a surreptitious gift. She easily came into my arms and started purring. She was even softer than my cat, perhaps because she was younger and smaller. Her voice was more babyish too. She was hungry, but more than food, she was hungry for love. I could see that most people misunderstood her. They fed her. Which was good. But people forget that cats are natural hunters. They can fend for themselves. They are fiercely independent creatures. They learn how to hunt and get food on their own very early on, especially when they live outdoors. What they don’t get is a little love.
I petted her & she was the sweetest girl in receiving it. I was surprised at her friendliness. Most stray cats are not this friendly. They tend to be aggressive & defensive. But this kitty was different. She was continuously rubbing on my legs & hiding under me. She was barely 5 months old, in my estimate.
She was chasing me around for the time I was there. Whenever I entered the cafeteria, she would somehow get my scent and come around, meowing loudly and asking for petting. She found me. That’s how cats are with those they know are capable of relating with them, I guess. They express how much the other matters to them. Undeniably. They let themselves be vulnerable.
At home, my pet cat was waiting for me. I was told that she was sad and moping in the three days that I was not there. She was rolling over my slippers, chewing them, and clinging on to them, as if they were a vestige of my presence. They had to be stored in a cupboard to save them from being shredded by Cookie’s outpourings of love.
I reached home to find her hiding under the bed. She rubbed her nose on me the moment I went to coo her out of her hiding place. And then spent the next few hours showing me she was mad at me. She kept sniffing my feet and legs, without rubbing on them – picking up the scent, and the fur, of another cat. She would not like that. Nope.
She had this look on her face, like:
“Am I not enough for you, hooman? Why you need other cats?”
With much difficulty I picked her up in my arms, because she kept resisting and running away. She finally settled on my table, watching me work.
Who Was I?
Looking back, I couldn’t but wonder how similar yet different the two cats were.
There was the stray cat: independent, free, loving, caring, sweet, yet, not attached to anyone or anything. She could go wherever she wanted, play with anyone and anything, eat when she likes, where she likes, sleep when she likes, where she likes. Yet no one owned her, and she owned no one. There was also no one to protect her, or pamper her every day. When she found someone like me, she clung on, but unfortunately I had to go. It was not easy to say goodbye to her. I don’t know what cats’ world is like, but it felt like she sensed I was leaving, and it was not easy for her to see me go either. She kept meowing loudly until I disappeared out of sight. It broke my heart to leave her. Yet, I met her while traveling, and had to go back.
Then there was the pet cat. Who was moping and sulking because I was gone for a few days. Whose world revolves around me. I am her world. Who shows me tantrums, gets annoyed with me, but it doesn’t really affect me. I know she does it because she feels I am hers. She owns me and I own her. She knows I protect her, care for her, nurse her and pamper her whenever needed. She knows I will never fail her or ditch her when the going gets tough. She may not know it in those exact words, but she probably knows that I will do anything, even put my own work & life on hold, to look after her, if she is not okay. She worries about me when I am not well. She tries to nurse me in her own way – like purring in my lap or licking my feet when I am lying dead in my bed. Or meowing to wake me up because I have been lying down for too long.
She doesn’t have the same freedom – she can’t jump up & down trees, she can’t kill birds, she can’t chase butterflies in open grounds. But she lives a good life just the same. She is healthy. She is happy.
I didn’t know which type I was. Was I like the fiercely independent yet vulnerable stray cat? Or was I the homely, loving pet cat? Or were both only a matter of time – a question of who gets adopted and who doesn’t…? I did want to bring the little stray one home. Only problem was the flight wouldn’t allow that. They hardly even allowed my baggage!
I also decided that I would give my cat some more freedom – will take her out now & then so she can run in open grounds, feel the grass & see nature as it is. I try hard to protect her from harm because seeing her in pain is one of the worst things in life.
I felt like I was a little bit of both. Until you find someone to adopt you, and realize not every type of freedom is worth having, you remain only one of the two.