Why You Should Get A Cat In The New Year
(The Tao of Cat)
By Don Beaudreau
I was a “dog person” before moving to Mexico and the thought of living with a cat of any age (my age or the cat’s), but particularly a feline just beginning its romp through life was not an educational experience I desired upon retirement…
But along came Miss Kitty to educate me. Even to the point of my realizing that what I just told you showed how wrong I was about feline matters. For in truth, I have not lived with the cat. The cat has lived with me. She is the “Jefa” in our relationship. The boss.
Yes, let me be very clear. The cat calls the shots in our household. She lives where she wants: on the freshly washed pillows, in the sink when she requests running water (none of this lay-around water in a dish for her), and even on top of the Ojo del Lago before I have had a chance to read it!
Some might call it “eminent domain,” “squatters’ rights,” “manifest destiny,” “raison d’être,” “God’s will.” I call it The Tao of Cat. It’s being what you are supposed to be.
Truly, this ancient Chinese philosophy which speaks of that which cannot be named but which is the origin of all things, the motivating power behind what nature does – describes Miss Kitty’s philosophy, if a cat can be thought of as having a philosophy. In other words, Miss Kitty just is.
And she is anywhere she naturally wants to be. And she does what her little cat body informs her she must do. She is neither good nor bad. Even when she upsets my penchant for a clean kitchen countertop by lounging on top of it with her latest triumph from the little woods across the street: a poor mousie or birdie or froggy struggling in her death grip! It is then I erroneously call her “Bad Kitty,” although she is not bad. That is merely my limited human perspective peeking through my particular human vale of tears. No! She is not really bad. Nor really good. She is more like “Abstract Kitty.” Or “Miss Kitty from Nowhere and Anywhere and Going Back to Both.”
Undoubtedly, The Tao of Cat is a poetic statement about the meaning of life itself. That is why, even though I read a book on how to converse with one’s particular kitty, I question what the author dared to explain.
For example, does the position of Miss Kitty’s tail: up, down, in-between, wagging, at a standstill, really tell me who she is and what she is thinking? Is her purring, her jumping, her hissing, her meowing, her clawing…are these activities explainable?
Is the author doing a disservice to my darling and to the Tao?
“The Tao described in words is not the real Tao” says the guy who started the concept. So to try to make sense of Miss Kitty is to try to make sense of the universe. Would it not be better just to leave her and it alone?
The reality, of course, is that my feline lover could care less about cat experts and their opinions. She would much rather romp with a toad. Or torture it.
But then, “torture” is merely a relative word, depending on whether or not you look at this action in regard to a non-human experience as a Taoist thing (meaning beyond judgment), or as a belief in good and evil as posited by various religions and philosophies.
It is Miss Kitty’s primitive brain, one which connects with the primitive brain of all sentient or one-time sentient creatures, which makes her do what she does when she pounces on Mr. Toady. After all, who am I, a mere mortal, to pass judgment on such an act?
And when she suddenly performs her frenzied gymnastics, casting her petite self here and there in a most unseemly way, who am I to pronounce it kitty’s “demon dance”? She is only unleashing millions of years of animalistic fervor. Then she is not just Miss Kitty, but the first animal who ever thrashed over the veldt, pounded through the rain forest, lobbed itself over the mountain crevice. She is the huntress on the kill. She is nature being nature. She is the veldt, the rain forest, the mountain crevice. She is the full moon, the wild wave, the howling wind.
She also is more scholar than the scholar pouring over books or surfing the net. Her curiosity is legendary. There she is scrambling after a blowing leaf. Giving the eye to an unwary bird. Clawing a piece of string to test its strength. Skittering after noises in the middle of the night. Going out on a limb to see what’s at the end of it. Sitting in your lap, and helping you read your novel. Staring at you from a rooftop position as she surveys her domain. In all these things, she is seeking the meaning of the universe.
Now, The Tao of Cat philosophy might say that because she is part of the nameless and formless void of all voids; neither connected with time as we know it nor with emotion, she has no feelings for other beings. That would be a false assumption. Of course Miss Kitty has feelings!
She rubs up against me when she wants something, doesn’t she? But it’s funny, because I do think it is more than that. She is, in a way, the very heart of the universe.
You see, the other day, an errant Lakeside driver nearly ran over me while I was on my morning walk. The details of my near-death experience are not the point, although the irony of nearly dying while attempting to stay fit was almost a laughable reality. At any rate, I was feeling pretty emotional about the whole affair of cheating death and winning the battle. At least for that day.
So why do you think Miss Kitty was right there waiting for me when I got home and opened the door? Right there, not wanting to go out. Not wanting something to eat. But right there, nevertheless. Rubbing my leg, purring. Was she telling me that everything was all right? Was it sympathy she was showing? Or was I only projecting my evaluation on to her? My need to have some other soul relating to my soul, where a rub on the leg could speak volumes of sympathetic concern, bonding us to each other for a brief instant of eternity, making us connect in this at times seemingly chaotic, pointless universe?
Why she had to touch me in that moment will never truly be known to me, of course. I cannot see into her mind; she cannot see into mine. But I felt at the moment of our contact, that she somehow knew I needed her love; I needed her understanding. And so, shall I not give those gifts to her when she needs them?
Indeed, before the cat – that is to say, our cat – came into my life, I had a much more manageable existence. No cat food to dish out, no doors to open at the queen’s demand, no being awakened in terror by her middle-of-the-night nosedive into the bed.
But oh! How predictable, how uninteresting and how less loving my existence was before The Tao of Cat appeared; before Miss Kitty looked at me with those zillion-year-old eyes and saw right through me and my little pretensions to the other side of the galaxy! Oh, she is our own little font of timeless wisdom on matters big and imponderable, and I only can wish for you a cat of your own to help guide you along the path toward meaning and purpose.
There are lots of them “out there” at Lakeside (dogs, too)! So might you consider sharing your life with one (or more) of them? Start 2021 with a new animal friend! Existence for you both in this starry, starry universe will take on new meaning and purpose, that’s for sure!
Take it from a former “dog lover” (mostly) who now shares his home with one human spouse, one bird, six dogs, and two cats! Indeed, each one of us is a “rescued animal” who together, have created a diversified Lakeside family!
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com