Some Days, I Want To Be My Cat

I can’t remember when my family’s obsession with watermarks began. All I know is that watermarks must be avoided at all costs. And so, in my parents’ house and now my own, we squeegee. We squeegee everything squeegeeable.  We all hate it and we bargain and negotiate at shower time to see who is going to get stuck going last and, thus, be stuck squeegeeing.  

I’ve noticed the funniest thing, though. We recently got a cat. Santa Claus rescued him for my son as a kitten. My cat is captivated by my squeegeeing.

I remember the day he discovered this fascinating thing that I do. He was on the bathmat. (He thinks the bathmat is fascinating too.) At the first sound of the rubber hitting the glass, his ears perked up and he leapt to attention. His sweet, maturing kitten face whipped towards the shower door, eyes quickly searching for the source of this bewitching noise. What could it be? Is it possible that there could be something even more interesting than this cozy, worn bathmat? He couldn’t believe it. He was so thrilled. You could feel the energy buzzing from his body.

Then, his eyes fixed on the amazing gadget responsible for the hypnotizing melody. What was this? And, look at those beads of water! They were clear, yet they had color and shade and reflection. They looked like a thousand tiny jewels. Stars sprinkled across the sky. And, then, as that tool swept across, they all melted together and became a stream of water, neatly skimmed away and running smoothly, cleanly down the edge of the blade, then the corner of the glass. It was magnificent!

Absolute awareness. Unwilling to miss even a second – a glimpse – of this enchanting world.  You could see by his rapt attention that he hoped he would be blessed with another extraordinary swoosh. And, to his great pleasure, he was! It was too much! He leapt to the adjacent ledge for a different perspective. This one was even more incredible, it seemed. He was so ecstatic, he rolled onto his back and wiggled with glee while touching his face and tickling his whiskers with his little grey paws.

I want to be my cat. 

My cat has the power to turn the mundane into the magical. It’s not just the squeegee. He thinks my work station is pretty spectacular too. The first time he felt the intoxicating pull of my monitors, I was reviewing Excel spreadsheets. Hundreds of lines of color-coded data. I was supposed to read each line.  Each word in tiny font, crammed into tiny boxes, stacked into tiny rows. Then, add my insights and comments in more tiny font, crammed into more tiny boxes, stacked into more tiny rows. My eyelids were growing heavy when he pounced eagerly onto my desk, transfixed by these bright, glowing screens. I tried to keep reviewing, wanting to get through this task as quickly as I could and move on. I gently moved him off my keyboard and craned my neck around him to see my screen as I moved my mouse to the next tiny box to shove my thoughts into it. 

Then, my cat did the most curious thing. His eyes followed the cursor. Then, he pawed at the cursor.  Moments later, he tried to look behind the screen to see where the cursor might have gone. It was GAME ON! And, it wasn’t just the cursor. It was every. Single. Letter. Every one! The colors! The shapes! The miraculous screens that change and move and show different things at different times, limited only by your imagination! Epic! Unbridled intrigue emanating from every fiber of his being. Ever since his groundbreaking discovery, he likes to spend his afternoons on my keyboard (which is, of course, another fascinating artifact through which his mere movement creates motion on the screen). 

My cat is not all squeegees and spreadsheets, though. As much as he might like to be. My cat feels his needs and feelings. Without question. Unashamed. Without a second guess or concern that it might be inconvenient. He prioritizes them and trusts himself. He doesn’t withhold from himself the things that he wants. He sees a cherry in the sink. He takes the cherry from the sink. He wants a nap. He takes a nap. When my cat feels lonely or bored, you know it.

The first night we left our son’s bedroom door open and let him roam free around the house, we were secretly delighted when he arrived in our room. He sprang from the floor to the duvet and curled up on the end of our bed. So sweet. So peaceful. Little kitten slumber. My partner and I were lulled by his calm and fell fast asleep ourselves. But, our rest was short-lived. It wasn’t long before I felt paws on my legs, then my back. Then paws on my head. Was he sitting on my head?! No sooner was he there, than he leapt from my head to my toes and started stalking my sleeping foot like it was prey in the wild. I groaned and giggled – I griggled – then rolled onto my side, protectively curling my knees and feet into myself, and slipped back to sleep. It wasn’t long, though, before I received another visit. This time, careful paws approached with delicate footfalls and longing meows. I opened one eye to find his searching kitten face in mine, sweet crooning letting me know he wanted company. He’s not afraid to ask for what he wants.

He’s also absolutely, unabashedly unwilling to allow you to overlook his needs. He speaks in meows of all lengths and pitches, like he’s talking. Growing louder with urgency and insistence. He will run alongside you and try to rub your leg and run between your feet while you’re walking, just to make sure you don’t miss his pleading. When he’s feeling silly, he will run ahead and roll onto his back, his belly exposed and screaming for a rub and he’ll catch your hand with his paws to play. Sometimes, when I go to leave the house, he chases alongside me and tries to stand in my way. I haven’t figured out yet if he’s begging me to stay or to come with. But, his desire to remain near me is unmistakable. You know when he’s happy. When he’s content. Because his whole body visibly relaxes and he languidly flicks his tail back and forth. Flinging elation to each corner of the room.

Eschewing self-doubt, my cat does not believe in limits…or boredom. Every moment is an opportunity to try something new. To dream up a new, bigger challenge and take it on with his whole self. There has never been a feat so great my cat won’t try to overcome it. I see him mapping things out in his mind. Lego hockey under the door gap. Hot lava monster meets parkour as he leaps across the furniture through the house. The cabinet drawer, slightly ajar, or the desk chair armrest – ever so narrow, just barely forming a ledge, higher than his usual clearance. You can see the calculations running behind those feline eyes. Every time, he will leap for the impossible. I’ve seen him perched on this thinnest of ledges. So close to the edge, yet there is no struggle. I’ve seen him lean out into space over the second story stairs. For the view, or just because he could.

I’ve also even seen him go past the bounds of his current limitations. And I’ve seen him fall. But, he always lands on his feet.

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