Monday, December 19, 2011

On the 6th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me: 6 Cats a-Sleeping

"On the sixth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
6 cats a-sleeping,
5 More Minutes!
4 calm equines,
3 fuzzy dogs,
2 flightless birds,
and an old farm in the country."

As I continue to cultivate intentional gratitude for the things that fill my life, I cannot overlook the Cats of Hendrickson House. Of which there are 6: 4 indoors and 2 in the barn.

I love all animals, but if push came to shove and I had to choose, I'm a Dog Person at heart. I've always had both cats and dogs. The dogs were my friends. My companions. My best buds. The cats were... cushion warmers. My daughter, however, is a Cat Lady. Because of her, I have come to appreciate the un-dog-ness of our cats.

All of our indoor cats became house dwellers out of necessity:

Patches came inside because it was so fr%^#king cold out when we got her spayed (no, we didn't think that one through very well, but we wanted to avoid the inevitable Spring Litter) that I couldn't in good conscience leave her to recuperate in the barn.

Hercule came in to heal from our neighbor shooting him in both the front and hind leg. He survived a shattered femur and lost a toe, but his ordeal didn't blunt his affection for humans. He's a love (and my favorite). Named for Agatha Christie's detective Poirot, because of his "little moustaches," Hercule is a tuxedo cat whose favorite perch is atop anyone's shoulders. When he lived in the barn, apres shooting incident, he would often be my shoulder stole while I did chores.

Cuddles, a 15-pound Russian Blue, was one of a litter of five 2-week old kittens some moron threw on our burn pile while we were at church. We bottle-fed them all. Three lived. We found homes for two of them, but Cuddles remains.

And then there's Night Owl, a tortie with twice the normal number of toes. Her mitts are so big, she'd probably gladly offer Hercule one of her spares. She was my daughter's favorite in a litter of barn kittens we took in to be spayed and neutered last year about this time. I got a call from the vet with the news that one of the kittens had a serious heart murmur. She probably wouldn't survive the surgery. She definitely wouldn't survive pregnancy.

So Night Owl came to live inside. She's made it one year. She's in no obvious duress. In all likelihood, she'll live several more.

The barn cats are Maddie and Othello. They should keep the barn mouse-free. However, they've failed to read that memo. Their favorite pastimes are sleeping in the hay and eating (and, in Maddie's case, chasing other cats away. She's quite the Queen Bee.)

All of our cats spend the vast majority of their time sleeping. It's their raison d'etre. It's why they were put on the planet. They can, and do, sleep everywhere: on the beds, on the dirty laundry, on the clean laundry (bonus points if its still warm from the dryer), on windowsills, and in the bathroom sink. They have raised sleeping to an art form.

Jane Pauley has famously said, “You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.”

Jules Champfleury mused, "A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect beatitude."

And Saki poetically posits: "[The Cat] seems the incarnation of everything soft and silky and velvety, without a sharp edge in his composition, a dreamer whose philosophy is sleep and let sleep."

There is something about the way a cat takes to sleeping that begs for me to take note. I ask myself, "Is there anything in my life that I enjoy that much?" I honestly don't know the answer. But until I find out, I am grateful to my cats for showing me that it is possible to have a wholehearted appreciation of one of life's simple pleasures.

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