Routines and Lives may Change but With Cats the Love Remains the Same…
There is no doubt my cats are an integral part of my life and I have always lavished them with attention, both consciously and subconsciously. The conscious became especially evident the past few months as I spent nearly every waking moment taking care of the special needs that Mr. Jazz had to ensure his final time with us as comfortable as possible. Now that he has passed on, I find my mind frequently wandering and I wondered if I had inadvertently given the other cats less attention than they needed or did they not even notice the difference at all?
I came to the conclusion despite the general preference cats have for routine, they are also far more intuitive and flexible than what appears on the surface. What happened, I now realize, is that they adjusted around my needs with Jazz to suit their own. It was an implied, “we know you love us, but you need to take care of Jazz so we’ll figure out our own unique ways to spend time with you when we need it.” And mind you, it’s not as if I was ignoring them – far from it, but I just wasn’t myself, yet there they were, right by my side all along.
The past couple of months, my mornings began with me opening a special can of moist food just for Jazz – it was imperative I get something into his vanishing body and I would make the other interested cats, i.e., Zee, Peanut, and Harley, wait patiently for Jazz to eat however much or little he wanted before I would let them lick the remains of the feeding dish. Peanut was the most insistent she partake in this ritual and even though I no longer open up that special can of food, she remains ever hopeful I will. Rather than disappoint her, I give her extra loving, hugs, and kisses – she enjoys the exclusive attention and I somehow feel more connected to the memory of Jazz this way.
Jazz would also get a small handful of dry kibble anytime he would wander into the kitchen. Normally we don’t feed the cats on demand, but if Jazz was willing to eat, he was going to get food – end of story. He would stand next to the pantry and howl a meow he was hungry and that was our signal to drop whatever we were doing to oblige his needs. Rolz keyed into this change of routine pretty quickly because it turns out, after an endless list of tries, the only food Jazz would eat was probably akin to buying your kid a McDonald’s Happy Meal and Rolz thought he had won the kitty lottery with that find. We still have some of that food left and Rolz is treated to a few pieces at night as a “snack.” It’s our special little secret and since it makes him happy, it makes me happy.
Mia has made the most interesting evolution. She is slowly emerging from a shy, don’t pet me kind of kitty, to a very vocal and loving cat. Her special time for me – when I get out to the shower. I can’t dry myself quick enough for her – she hears the water shut off in the morning and will meow and chirp incessantly that I must pet her. The catch? We have a hamper in the corner of the bathroom with a flat cover she jumps onto. That’s where our bonding must occur and despite that it’s a tad inconvenient, as I’m trying to get ready for work, this ritual means the world to both of us. Now I just get up a few minutes earlier so I can spend more time with her. She will arch her back high up in the air as I pet her and purr her appreciation in chain saw decibels. Rarely am I am allowed this special bonding anywhere else and I find it to be wonderfully awkward and charming – kind of like a teenager who wants to be loved as long as it’s not in front of anyone else!
Zoey continues to find me when she wants me, so it’s not uncommon to find her on my lap when I am on the computer and she religiously sits on my stretched out legs on the couch every single night when I settle to watch TV. What’s new, however, is how Kizmet has become a part of this. It used to be me, Dan, Zoey on my legs, Jazz on my chest, Harley on my stomach and Zee behind all of us on the couch. Without Jazz, Kizmet seems to understand there is a void and it’s his role to fill. Ker-plunk. As if dropped from a parachute, he lands next to my legs, settles to my LEFT side and snuggles in as close as he can to Zoey where he proceeds to groom her with an unbridled vigor. She happens to love the attention and will groom him back, but eventually he will push it too far, causing her to leave in a huff, but it is quite endearing until that moment.
Zee has made the most compelling adjustment and the dear boy is such a darling it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Somehow he has taken it upon himself that he is responsible for the safety and emotional well-being of Dan and I and has made it his mission to care for us. He’s never not within eye sight of either one of us and when we go to bed, his job really begins. He is so torn with love for both of us that at various times he will take turns snuggling next to us. I will wake up to find him curled up at my side with my arm around him. Or sometimes he is on top of my head. But, Dan will also tell the same story, so I know he goes back and forth all night, making sure we are protected. Ironically, years ago he was never a lap cat, yet now, he seems lost if he’s not with one of us.
He will also leave throughout the night to bring gifts to us. We will wake up in the morning to a bedroom floor covered with his prized plush toys and I’m certain he does it as homage to his love for us. He also talks constantly, almost as if he has to check in with us to make sure we are okay. Poor little guy – I fear we are going to wear him out taking care of us but his intentions are just so precious and I know this is his way of acknowledging the painful and emotional journey we went through with Jazz and he is reassuring us everything will be okay.
All I know is that the love and appreciation that I have always had for my cats, has now reached a level that takes my breath away. My senses have taken on a life of their own and I feel like everything they do, I am seeing for the first time. I am quietly reveling in this rediscovery and unconditional love they feel for me is returned to them a thousandfold. I miss Jazz every single day, but I also realize that he lives on through the others and I am forever grateful for that…
What about your cats? Has something in your life triggered a different bond or relationship you have with them? Please feel free to share your stories on this reflective Caturday.
To read my tribute to Mr. Jazz please visit this post: