Episode 22: In Which a Cat’s Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

Fri 21, Dec, 2018
Episode 22: In Which a CatR

All week, my friends have been prancing around the hospital with a festive air and a carol on their lips. It is that time of year, but I can’t understand the extent of their merry-making. There’s no snow; it isn’t even cold. It doesn’t look like Christmas. And what do we have to look forward to? Every day is the same; it doesn’t feel like Christmas. I hear them start to sing along to the radio with a song about roasting nuts in a fire and I immediately seek reprieve in my window away from the jollity. But my habitual place of meditation brings me no solace; here, I gaze out into the blue sky, visible through leafless, brown trees that cast no shade on the bare ground, drab under a too-warm sun. Refrains of “Let it snow, let it snow” float through the hospital hallways. Humbug.

I vacate my window ledge in search of anything to relieve my overwhelming sense of disappointment and gloom. On the break room table, there is a pile of plates and baskets and bags filled with treats for my friends, given to them by the people who visit us with their animals. This heavenly collection of sweets grows every day, faster than my friends can eat it all. Nobody ever brings me anything. Maybe I should try to help them through this vast array of confections; why shouldn’t I get a share? The tags always say things like, “For our friends at Mountain Ridge,” and that surely includes me, right? Besides, we wouldn’t want that deliciousness to go to waste. The scent of sugar and spices fills my head; no wonder people have dreams of dancing sugar plums. I carefully select a bag near the edge of the table that looks promising. First a paw to drag it closer. It’s heavy with a plate at the bottom, and wrapped in something shiny and slippery; hard to get a purchase on. I pull and paw, and stretch my neck and finally I can reach it with my teeth. So close to victory… Just one more tug, and…

With rather more clatter than is desirable, the bag falls to the floor. The plate inside bursts into pieces, and so do several of the cookies, all of which erupts from the top of the bag. Before I can decide how to proceed or whether to flee the scene without tasting the debris, one of my friends comes running. I can only imagine how it must look; me, surrounded by an explosion of sugar and crumbs and the shrapnel of the plate, the wreckage of my own selfishness. I want to run; I hate getting scolded. But there is no admonishment, no harsh words of reprimand. Hands on her hips, my caretaker simply shakes her head at me, and another of my companions arrives on the scene. One of them scoops me up to keep me away from the sharp edges of broken ceramic while the other sweeps up the catastrophe. I didn’t mean to make a mess; quite the opposite, in fact. I never intended to make extra work for anyone. What a rotten addition to this miserable yuletide.

With order restored, I slink under the synthetic evergreen by the great window. I sniff a tiny artificial holly berry, and let myself get lost in the twinkle of the tiny lights among the branches. I wander to the front of the building to look at the other tree. My housemates have been rearranging, and there are pillows and throws on the benches, and little frames with nice words on some new shelves. Everything has a softer feel in this room these days, and there is a glow from the tree and the lights strung around the window. The lights on this tree glitter, too, and as I crouch under the sparkling branches, another of our visitors enters with a new basket of baked goodies, which will replace the one I destroyed. I hunker under the tree, feeling a little guilty and also still a little disappointed with how my holiday season is shaping up. I hear my friend tell our visitor that these treats aren’t for me, and they laugh together, their cheer melting away a little of the taciturn haze that has been shrouding my heart.

I creep out from under the tree, and am picked up and held closely. The familiar warmth of affection and companionship makes me squeeze my eyes, and I begin to purr. Such generosity humans show each other, and such a capacity for forgiveness they possess. This humanity in combination with the glow of Christmas trees and the warmth of this place, my home, filled with music and laughter and love, makes me forget about snow. Sometimes life isn’t what we thought it would look like, and sometimes there are broken cookies, but what matters most is looking for the sparkle in our everyday existence, and appreciating love’s embrace. That’s what Christmas is all about.


Wed 21, Nov, 2018
Episode 21: In Which a Cat Cou

The final seasonal transition is underway, bringing with it the quiet of winter. All living things outside are preparing for dormancy. Some rush to their appointment with sleep, while others cling to the final moments of wakefulness. Even the last leaves seem loathe to shuffle off this mortal coil, unaware that their purpose will be to provide nourishment for the trees that bore them, and fated to be reborn in a few short months, as green and beautiful as ever. The sun goes down earlier every day, and my window is awash with the cold outside air.

I do not dread this season, in nature or in life. It is accompanied by a sense of accomplishment, that the preceding year was filled with experience and productivity, and that in spite of time’s relentless march, we saw and we listened and we felt. And when it is only autumn’s end nearing, there is still time for more. It is my second year in this home, and sometimes I forget that I was ever anywhere else. We have our routines here, in spite of the frequent adventures (and misadventures) that befall me. Such distractions are a welcome element of the interesting life of a cat, and should be met head on with dignity; I always find my way through the interesting bits of life with gusto and accept the lessons graciously. After all, cats are known for keeping our wits about us no matter the circumstance.

Through all my experiences this year, one thing has remained constant; the presence of my friends and their devotion to my well-being. Of course, I could get along just fine without them; it is the nature of my people to be independent. But why would we? Why strike out on my own when I have a hand to feed me and give me water and a clean, dry place to sleep? I have everything I need without having to fight. I don’t remember what it was like to fight for life, or for survival to be my daily goal. I know what exists outside of these walls; I am a kept cat now, but I know some of the world, and I know that I did not come into this place with all nine of my lives intact. I know that I am lucky.

As I ruminate on the nature of my current state of affairs, one of my friends happens by. I greet her, and she scoops me up around my middle and pulls me close. I lean into the embrace and can’t help but purr, and she squeezes and rocks me and scratches right between my ears, just like I like, and under my chin so that my whiskers stretch forward. She giggles, and sets me on my window ledge bed to stretch out in the sun’s last rays. Yes, I have everything I need. And for that, I am thankful.



Fri 26, Oct, 2018
Episode 20: A Halloween Specia

The winds of change are upon us, sweeping over the earth. I felt the terrestrial shift as the earth settled upright for the autumnal equinox. Sunshine still warms the windows, but for several mornings in a row now I have sensed cooler air caressing the glass. Fall is playful, inviting all living things to come outside. Its soft touch on each leaf sets the foliage ablaze with color, and it must paint an impressive portrait for the birds I have seen flying south. Some days, the azure sky is pure, and others it becomes marbled with the grey threat of precipitation. I rather like the mornings when the clouds hang low, giving an impression of closeness in the air and turning the world silver. I watch the squirrel, gathering his sundry harvest, preparing for the cold to come.

The pleasantness of this season during the day is accompanied by a certain spooky atmosphere that seems onset by darkness and the approaching end of October. I have heard my friends discussing spooky stories about ghostly programs they watch, and mostly I scoff at the ease with which they become fearful of fiction. Tonight, however, they are gone and their stories have lingered in my mind. I begin to hear noises and my peripheral vision is haunted by flickering shadows. Does the roof always creak so? Do I see a deeper darkness lurking in the shadows? A flash in the corner of my eye makes me whip my head around, only to see nothing more than my familiar surroundings. And then, footsteps echoing in an empty hallway. A voice in the darkness; “Hello?” it calls, and then dies in the silence. Every hair of my coat stands on end, and my whiskers are buzzing. Who’s there? I meow into the nocturnal obscurity, and my own voice sounds strangely distant and timid. I am answered only by the usual noises of the hospital at night; the occasional beeping from laboratory equipment, and the warm air pouring out of the heating ducts. I become conscious of my heart pounding, and am forced to admit it; I have succumbed to the hype of Halloween.

Upon this realization, my fear is replaced by indignation at my own silliness. My people would be flabbergasted by my weakness in letting my imagination run so wild. I allowed my fear to manifest itself in trickery of my senses, and worse, that even if it truly existed I would let some unknown entity invade my space without putting up a fight. After all, I am a cat! This is my house; I rule over this domain. The darkness has always been a friend to felines; a cover by which to accomplish stealthy endeavors. We are the darkness in the shadows, and the padded footsteps of the night belong to our surreptitious paws. There is nothing to fear here, in my home, in this place I have come to know so well. With my nerves returned to steely normalcy, I finish my nighttime rounds and return to my window-ledge bed to pass the early morning hours in peaceful slumber. As I drift off, one last thought enters my mind; maybe tomorrow I won’t listen to my friends tell those spooky stories anymore…



Fri 07, Sep, 2018
Episode 19: In Which a Cat Tak

Sometimes I think I’m a magnet for misadventure. I mind my own business, and I find that so often events are thrust upon me like the sky on the shoulders of Atlas. Take the other day, for example. I was sitting in my window ledge bed, enjoying the summer sunshine and drifting in and out of meditation, when suddenly a great ruckus outside my window ripped me from my state of reverie. I opened my eyes and found my view of the yard almost entirely obstructed by a large mass of fluff. This creature stared back at me and smiled, tongue lolling and open mouth showing of rows of large, white teeth. I could hear its muffled excitement through the glass. “Hello! Hello! Hey, you cat! I see you!” it barked at me. Dogs are so rude.

Often, my colleagues will bring their canine companions to stay for the day while they work. Dogs can’t be trusted to stay at home alone all day; they make too much mischief. Sometimes my human friends set up the big kennels in my room, lining them with big, fluffy blankets and leaving enormous bowls of water. Yesterday, one of my friends took her dog out in the middle of the day, and I found the empty kennel in their absence. The fluffiest blankets. The clearest, biggest bowl of water. Just sitting there, unused. How could I resist? I made myself at home; after all, these dogs are guests in my house. They should be happy to share. So comfortable was I that I didn’t realize how quickly time was passing, and before I knew it, my friend and her dog had returned. She asked me to vacate the commandeered space, and I refused, hissing at the dog. She became insistent, and still I resisted. Why should I have to move? Finders, keepers.

Unfortunately, I tried her patience beyond its limits, and she reached into the kennel and pulled me out by my scruff, in spite of my vocal protestations. As she was pulling me out, I noticed that I was simultaneously moving closer to the dog, a great, black thing with bright eyes and shining teeth. My friend, wrangling both myself and her dog, did not realize how near we were getting to one another. Its eyes held an eager gleam as I moved closer to it. I was unable to escape my friend’s firm grasp, and my limbs would not respond properly under the spell of scruffing. All I could do was watch in horror as the dog’s huge head loomed over me in our ever-shrinking proximity. Wagging tail and quickened breath revealed its anticipation. And then I was within reach. It stretched its neck and opened its jaws wide. I gave one last hiss and squeezed my eyes shut, preparing for agony. I felt the pointed teeth housed in those massive jaws touching my left arm, and waited for them to tighten and close. But there was no tightening, no crunching of bone and tearing of fur and flesh; instead, there was only a long, wet tongue. It licked me from elbow to paw in one drawn-out motion, leaving my fur thick with drool. Disgusting.

My friend released me and deposited the dog in the kennel, where it happily lapped up mouthfuls of water and then nestled into the fluffy blankets, having the loveliest day of its life. I scowled at it and stalked by, and I could swear I saw the subtlest tail wag, and its eye held a curiously friendly invitation. Dogs aren’t evil. Just rude.



Fri 10, Aug, 2018
Episode 18: In Which a Cat Tel

Can you keep a secret? I am about to divulge to you some of the history of my people.

Long ago, long before humans remember, the first cats emerged on this earth. They stretched out into the sunlight and tested their claws on the trees and knew that this domain was theirs to master. They quickly became versed in the ways of the world, and more than that, they found that their powers ranged beyond the traditional scope of three-dimensional time and space. Ancient cats were large and wise and beautiful, and many had special attributes. Of the original tribes, the Mau was one renowned for its particularly gifted people. In those times, when the earth was new, the sun and the moon could commune with the creatures of the earth. One night, the moon was especially bright and mischievous and invited Khensu, sky traveler of the Mau, to dance. Unable to resist that shining crescent smile, Khensu danced with the moon. They danced and danced in the light of one thousand thousand stars, until the moon faded into the sunrise and Khensu felt that he might have danced his paws off altogether. The next night, the moon returned to Khensu, but he declined the invitation to dance because his paws were so sore. The moon is kind, and bent very close to the earth where Khensu lay and held his paws, and the moonlight bath instantly relieved the ache in each and every toe. Khensu felt he could dance forever, and when he looked down at his paws, he discovered that they had turned white with moon beams. “Walk with me,” said the moon, and Khensu followed. They walked across the night sky with all the stars for companions, and the moon gave Khensu the gift of cosmic secrets that would make cats the most powerful beings ever to roam the planet. Cats were chosen, the moon said, because no other creature would be capable of withstanding the responsibility of super-terrestrial knowledge. Khensu shared his newfound wisdom with the Mau, and thus began the study of interdimensional travel. Many cats have learned the art well enough to disappear when their human companions search for them, although no one has yet been able to travel to another tangible plane. The gift of the moon shows in the white paws of direct descendants of Khensu, sky traveler of the Mau.

When the world was flat and square, the ancient people enjoyed pushing trees and boulders to the edge and knocking them off. They tired of this, however, when objects failed to break, simply falling into the void of space, and so turned their attention to the world itself. They pulled at its edges until it became round enough to kick with their hind feet, and the crumpled surface made mountains and their claws dug valleys and furrows for rivers to flow. In a far corner of the world, before it was round, lived Satori, the enlightened seer. She was a valued member of the Neko tribe, who were known as the cleverest and most mysterious of all cats. She could feel the presence of life in all things, and she was the first to recognize that trees would be wise, as they spent their lives in meditation and personal growth. Satori walked among the trees and would spend hours listening to the laughter rippling through the leaves as the breeze tickled the branches. She knew that the trees absorbed the power of the sun, and so she would lie in clearings, basking in the warm glow of its rays in hopes of becoming as wise as the grove around her. One day, the sun asked Satori why she spent so much time among the trees, and she explained that she wished to share in their erudition so that she might impart more knowledge upon her people, making them truly the wisest creatures on the earth. “The wisest creatures,” the sun told Satori, “are those who recognize the wisdom of others.” The sun is generous, and decided to give Satori the gift of universal perception. The sun’s rays began to glow very bright and warm on Satori, and she could feel the golden light settling into her fur. The sun told her that by practicing a heightened level of concentration that she would be able to not only sense the presence of life, but perceive thought and collect wisdom from other beings. Eager to learn, Satori practiced her new gift on the trees, and learned from them. She fixed her gaze upon flowers and grass and squirrels and gleaned knowledge from each. She made her way to the edge of a lake to test her ability on the fish, and when she saw herself reflected in the water’s surface, she saw that her fur was now a beautiful flame orange, gilded from the sun. She taught her people the art of perception so that they could better understand all living things, and that is how cats came to be talented telepaths. Many humans have not yet figured out that the unblinking gaze of a cat signifies a connection of the mind. The gift of the sun shows in the vibrant orange fur of direct descendants of Satori, enlightened seer of the Neko tribe.

Our people’s history is rich and full of secrets; I have told you enough for now. Next time you catch the intense look of your feline companion, mind your thoughts, and when you wonder how they got to where you were searching for them moments before, remember that our people have aptitudes beyond the scope of human knowledge. I, myself, am highly gifted; my white paws and orange coat can attest to my distinctive heritage. And now, I think it’s time to close my eyes for some meditation in the sun while I wait for an invitation from the moon…


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