Op-Ed
Published in

Op-Ed

Cats Will be Cats

Last night my cat came home with two thorny twigs stuck to her bushy tail. She had also shit herself.

Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

We had a pretty bad storm yesterday and I think she must have hid out in the woods because I didn’t lock her up in my camper. The day before when I told my grandma I was thinking about keeping my cat inside when I went to work, she assured me, “She’ll just got up into the attic, she knows what to do, she’s been around long enough.” If my mom had been here (and not visiting with my sister in Jacksonville) she would have made sure she let Kizzy in as the storm rolled through. I’ve started to think my mom treats the little princess like a baby, shielding her from everything in the real world (projection much?). So I decided my little angel could fend for herself, despite the weather forecast.

I wrote about the two occasions when my cat ran away in this post. Both times my biggest fear was that she would encounter a predator. The last time it happened, I learned not to worry so much because she came home unscathed. So when she didn’t show up to eat last night at the normal time, I thought she was just out stalking leaves. I remember thinking about her while I was in the shower because the glass blocks of the window look out to the backyard where we have a small forest. Kizzy is the huntress of our cat herd, so it wasn’t really all that concerning when she didn’t come for the kitty call.

I opened my door a few times to call for her, without getting to anxious about it. The last time I opened the door, it was already dark but I could see her silhouette on the walking path. I still didn’t know anything was wrong until she plopped up on my bed with dilated pupils. I could tell this wasn’t just because she’d walked into my semi-lit camper; I could tell something had spooked her. At this point I still thought it was a little humorous, if not adorable, this look on her face. I had this feeling like she knew she could come to her mama for protection. It wasn’t until I went to pet her that I could smell and see the disaster under her tail.

While I can’t be sure how long she struggled after getting tangled in the brush, it looked like she’d sat in a mud pie. She’s a long-haired cat so all of the fluffy fur was matted up and stringy. Then I saw the two twigs tangled up in her feathery tail, which at that point was the consistency of fresh cotton. When I tried to untangle them she growled and yelped. The only scissors I had in my camper are worthless, so I had to run inside to grab my grandmother’s, making the whole thing seem more frantic. I also grabbed a wet wash cloth in hopes that she would let me clean her up after I removed the evil sticks. It was really difficult to get the twigs out, even with scissors, because her stress level at this point was sky-rocketing. It seemed like everything I was doing to help was making her freak out more. I got the twigs out, but she batted at me with claws, hissed, and even tried to bite me when I tried to clean her fur.

Finally, I grabbed the skin of her shoulder blades and held her down while I cleaned her. She was so loud the entire time, I was sure the neighbors would think I was murdering a child. I felt awful even though the entire time I was telling her I was just trying to help. I am pretty sure I just needed to remind myself of that fact. Her blood curdling screams broke my heart because I knew she was scared. At least with human children you can try to explain and they still have some trust in you. It took forever to get my cat to not be so skittish, so this was an even greater catastrophe in my mind. I thought she’d never love me again.

While she is just a cat, Kizzy is my proxy for a child. From my relationship with her, I am able to experience a small taste of what its like to be a mother. But more importantly, I have a different perspective from which I can approach the relationship I have with my own mother. Throughout the entire process of of trying to handle this situation, I had various thoughts about my mother. “What would mom do?” “Should I text mom and tell her what happened?” “Maybe this is how my mom feels when I lash out at her”.

I wrote about my mom and my relationship with her when we went on vacation, but I didn’t publish that journal entry because I got a little to deep into the psychology. This is a small excerpt from that post that was never posted:

I’ve been doing a lot of healing with my mom. She has a suffocating way of wanting to take care of me and I often allow it to make me grumpy. It checks out with the astrology, in that my natal Mars (the God of War) is in the sign Cancer for me, which is also the place where Mars is in its fall (opposite its exaltation in Sagittarius). Not only that, Mars is my greater malefic because I have a daytime chart and to top it all off my mom is a double Cancer, with her moon and ascendent residing there. She is the epitome of the Cancer archetype and that sends me into rage.

It may not make much sense to a lot of people, but this is also a continuation of my stream of thought from yesterday. I allowed my childhood conditioning to make me despise being taken care of or needing help from others. Last night, my cat gave me a pretty good idea of how that can manifest. I’m torn between wondering if I should just let her be a cat and potentially get hurt or if I should smother her with mommy affection. Surely, you can tell what I think is the right thing to do based on that statement. I hope you’ll also notice I’m projecting in a major way to sort through my own feelings of being stifled by comfort.

Today my girl is too tired to go outside from being up all night cleaning her own ass. She’s sitting near my while I journal even though she is usually begging to go out the door in the morning time. Not today. Today she is basking in the sun without needing to go explore in it because she is content. If cats remember things like we do, I am sure yesterday is something that she will never forget. Pain helps us to remember and allows us to appreciate. Sometimes, you just gotta let a cat be a cat, even if you know how to make their life easier. Sometimes you gotta let your kid be a kid. Sometimes you gotta let your mama be a mama. And everyone should listen to grandma even if she isn’t always exactly right.

Originally written in Collective Journaling at The Stoa

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store