My wife was scanning through Facebook and came across a post from our pet sitter, Kim. It was a picture of a handsome tabby cat. Kim had rescued the kitty from the back fence of her girlfriend’s house where he was trapped by a pack of dogs.
The kitty was about six months old and as cute as a button. I’ve never been sure why buttons are the de facto standard for cuteness, but he was pretty cute nonetheless.
We were still living in our house of stones. Stone floor, flagstone walkways, small boulders out back. Our little boy cat, Tio, had died just a few weeks before, and we buried him in the garden by his favorite hiding place.
Susan and I were still filled with that sadness and had promised each other to not bring any more cat friends into our home for a “good long while.”
It turned out that a “good long while” was about six weeks.
After seeing the photo, my wife called Kim and arranged for her to bring the cat over for a visit to see if he was compatible with our current pets. This is one thing I have always loved about Kim. She’s dead serious about finding homes for animals that they fit into. We’d been friends for years, and we still had to go through her vetting process.
She brought the cat over and also brought her new girlfriend, Jumil, for us to meet. The cat did not care. It turns out the cat had been avoiding marauding dogs by jumping up on Jumil’s fence.
It was magic
They let the cat out of his carrier. He sauntered into the living room. Our collie dog, Clancy, wandered over. They exchanged sniffs. Clancy went to have a treat; the cat went to explore the rest of the house.
It was a done deal.
It took us three days to give him a name. He didn’t care. We were all already connected. We knew he was going to live with us.
We decided his name was going to be Rico. I’m sure he thought his name was something along the lines of, Fonzie, Master of the Universe, he was just so cool.
But the cat didn’t care what we called him.
Life is good
For a few years, everything was terrific. Rico fit into our household and decided who he was going to like. And who he was going to snub.
One of the people he decided to like was the guy who came to our house to help us with our procurement of “off the books” recreational substances. Jerry became our friend during this time, and Rico, the cat, loved him.
Rico would rub against his legs, jump up on Jerry’s lap for petting and go to sleep on Jerry while we sat and talked. It was sweet. Even when Jerry got rolled up on occasion, Rico didn’t care. The next time Jerry came by the house, Rico would be there to greet him. Full of purring demands for ear scruffles and demanding a flat lap for sleeping.
We would sit for hours, the four of us. Talking, shooting the breeze, doing business. Rico didn’t care; he knew good people when he met them.
The world changed
In the depths of the Great Recession, we had acres of financial problems. The kind of issues nobody ever wants to experience. Life was hard. Hard to the point of wanting to quit each and every day.
Rico, the cat, didn’t care.
“Dad,” he would look at me and say through cat telepathy, “this is just a stop along the way. Everything’s going to be fine. And where’s my treat?”
He was right. We let go of a house that was costing us our lives, and we wound up living in our son’s spare bedroom. Rico had to stay with his Aunt Kim/Uncle Toby, who was in the middle of her transgender transition.
Rico didn’t care; he loved Kim/Toby and patiently waited for us to get our stuff together so we could live as a family again.
When we finally resurfaced from our miserable financial nightmare, Rico came back to live with us. He loved us unconditionally and wanted a few more snuggles, but pretty much it was, “Hey Dad, I see you’re back now. Where’s my treat?”
For me, that was calming. His not caring made the world a better place. When you go through what we went through, you lose your self-esteem and your life becomes all about gutting it out from day to day. Anxiety rules and embarrassment becomes your go-to emotion.
We went through the wringer and were squeezed until it felt like every last drop of life was removed from our souls. It hurt in a way I have never experienced before, and I’ve lived through a lot in my life.
Rico’s pretty smart
Rico takes things as they come, he adapts to situations as they happen. I’ve learned a lot from paying attention to the way he cats about in the world. That’s not to say there aren’t some things that bother him; he doesn’t like the noise the front door makes when it opens, and he hates the vacuum cleaner. But most things he takes in stride.
I think Rico’s got something in his viewpoint of the world and since our troubles, I’ve adopted his viewpoint in many areas. There are some things it’s important to care about. But the truth is, most things in life are matters of personal preference and if I take a page from Rico’s book, and don’t spend my time caring about things that don’t matter, my day goes along a whole lot better.