If my scratch notes are right, our brother cats were born Mar 10, 2017, part of a litter of five, their mom-cat’s first. (Her next litter was 10; fecund lady.) We picked them up on May 31, when they were almost 12 weeks old. Males, Shadow and Garfunkel, smoke-black tabbies, one long-haired, the other now a sleek fur fireplug.
I have always loved cats. Nothing against dogs, we had Ruffle for 14 years and I loved her dearly, but I am definitely a cat lady. When we got a couple of beautiful Siamese in 1968 it was heaven for a while—our first big house, even if it was in Columbia SC—but then it soon became obvious that Conrad had a severe cat allergy. The diagnosis took a while, so by the time we had to give our beloved cats away, it was two moms and nine kittens. That hurt.
As we spent our decades touring and staying in host houses, antihistamines were Conrad’s constant helpers when we were staying with cat-lovers. But by the time we got to 2016 or so, we realized that he hadn’t needed the antihistamines for a very long time. Eventually it dawned on us—we could have cats. And we got ’em.
Their first night with us was gnarly; soft bed or no, they were away from Mama for the first time, in an alien environment, and they were very vocally unhappy. I got up, put on my robe, came downstairs and sat by their bed in the corner of the kitchen cuddling them all night. I guess they imprinted, like ducks.
They are particularly attached to me, and this makes touring difficult. We have a beloved friend who stays with them when we’re gone, and as far as I know they love her and are comforted with her. But when Conrad came home a week before I did from last year’s fall trip to Europe (we often split our itineraries), he came in the door and was greeted with wild affection. The cats then went to the closed front door and sat there, waiting. When he told me that, my eyes got wet.
So yes, our furry companions need me, but it goes beyond that. I need them. If I lie down for an afternoon nap, it takes a max of ten seconds for the first cat to land on my belly, and the second is not far behind. I can’t begin to say what a comfort that is for me. That warm purring weight, the sense of trust, the connection—it helps me detach from the insane politics and the rat-scratch of accounting and bills and cash flow, and just sock into the sweet pleasure of the moment.
We and the cats survived the fire evacuation in fine fettle, thanks to theatre friends in Santa Rosa who lost electricity but didn’t have to evacuate. I’m trying to refine our refuge plans for the eventual earthquake. I appreciate the fact that if we and our cats remain in good health, I will still have my furry friends when I am 90.
But right now, I am in the dismal swamp of our current political flu, more virulent than ever, and I’m just trying to fight the depression that is always worse in winter. My furry companions, I realize, are an important asset, a reliable link to a state of warm meditation; thay take some of the razor edges off my awful inner engine. Hail, companion animals.