Monday, January 7, 2008

Pope Benedict and I are cat people

Here's a post from The Cafeteria is Closed which describes the Holy Father's fondness for felines. I hear that his cat Chico has written biography of his famous owner, which is out in Italian(clever kitty). I am waiting to read it in English.
Here's my cat story.
I dedicate this in memory of my cat Max, who died last week in an accident, at only four years old .
Max was one of those cats who resembles a dog in his gregariousness. Whatever was going on in our home, Max was at the center of it. I had just deleted two photos of his back as we were setting up the Christmas tree. No matter where Max was, if you did something unusual, he had to investigate it. We called him the supervisor.
Every morning, as I stumbled across the kitchen to get my coffee and let out two Labradors outside, Max would hear them, and appear at the door, to come in and greet me. I would pet him, but Max was demanding, he wanted attention while I was on the computer. Sometimes, he would settle for lying on the desk between the keyboard and the screen, where I could give him an occasional stroking. Other times, he would sit on the hard drive, gazing out the window at the clear bird feeder, twitching his feathery tail in anticipation. When a bird came to feed, Max would spring at the window, bumping his head each time. Since he never learned, it was just as well that the birds started to avoid the scary feeder!
Max's mother was killed in a car accident as well, but since we had rescued him from a nearby farm with his aunt, and two cousins, Max had a surrogate mother and brothers. They licked one another's ears, cuddled together on the wicker rocker cushion on the front porch.They were inseparable. Often I would invite them inside on a cool evening, and they would politely refuse, they were there to see the nighttime action from a comfortable spot, thanks anyway.

Max had a friendly boxing match with our dog Molly nearly every day, which hardly ever escalated into hostility. He would wander into the kitchen, sometimes rubbing up against Molly's legs, to see if she were ready for sparring. If Molly bowed playfully, the two would start, Max not using his claws, but just jabbing her playfully.

My daughters loved Max, Bella would walk around with him in an embrace, his paws around her neck, him snuggling her neck. Sometimes , she couldn't have him in her bed at night, as he oten insisted on curling around her head on the pillow like one of those furry Russian hats. Max got along with our cranky old lady tortoise shell call, Maggie, whom his brothers drove to hissing fits. The two would be curled up tother on a spare bed peacefully. Max was the cat who like everyone, and whom no one could dislike. He was the first cat to greet guests, often mixing with the dogs to investigate the newcomer, and when we were offering some of the resuced cats for adoption, many offered to take him, but we jealously guarded him for ourselves.

One time, my father's lab and Molly feeling their oats, chased Max into the spruce tree and kept him there for 40 minutes before we discovered their betrayal. A dog and cat may be friends inside, but outside they revert to their baser instincts. Poor Max was traumatized, however, after a few weeks realized that it was only a game, and he forgave Molly. When Max turned up missing last week, Molly kept waiting for Max at the back door, and when he didn't appear, she would put her head on her paws with a deep sigh. I know how you feel, Molly, he was a good friend.

Somehow, I imagine him prowling around a Heavenly backyard, hunting moles, and cuddling at night with his mother licking his ears. CS Lewis imagined that Our Lord allowed domestic pets a spot in the Celestial Kingdom. I like to think we was right.

I had a special Ginger tabby with white chest and paws, Tyga, when I was a shy bookish teen. Here was my favorite poem about the two of us then. Thanks to Maureen who left this after Gerald Augustinius' post on papal felines.

I and Pangur Ban my cat,'
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.'

Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.
-- by an anonymous Irish monk.
Translation by Robin Flower.


Anonymous said...

say a prayer for me! We have mice & i am petrified of them..we have a labrador so don't think a cat is an option!

Leticia said...

Jackie, as someone who has both Labradors and cats (and NO mice for miles!) take some advice: you are better off adding a cat AFTER you have a dog.
That way the cat won't have a bad attitude that his territory has been invaded, and will accept the dog eventually. In the beginning, expect some flare-ups, however, the cat will except the dog better when he came into the dog's home, not vice-versa.
Now, go find yourself a fierce little feline mouser!

Heidi Saxton said...

I'm sorry to hear of your cat's death ... Our pets take a special place in our hearts, and losing one can be a terrible heartache. My thoughts and prayers are with you.