October 27, 2011
I had that greasy cat who lives in my basement shaved today. She is beautiful, as I mentioned in another story I have written about her, called Meeting Billie Holiday or something similar. When I had that cat shaved for the first time, it was a drama. I may have written that the cat stylist was thoroughly intimidated by my cat, though they have experience with many animals at that emporium, my cat makes a lot of noise is quite contrary and has no sympathy for creatures that are intimidated by her bluster.
She is beautiful, however, a detail I never noticed until I had her shaved. I have her shaved regularly now but by someone who comes to my house and is not intimidated by her. “She makes a lot of noise, doesn’t she –“ yes, that’s it entirely. Big noise but no real threat. She is a true animal person, my friend who takes care of the beasts. She even put red and white feathers in my doggie’s hair today.
The cat again looks beautiful, the colors of her fur expressed now in a way that cannot be seen beneath her greasy hair/fur/whatever it’s called. She has gotten a little porky so she is not as conscientious as a cat should be about self-grooming. When shaved she is a spotted sausage.
My experience with cats began with big cats. I took care of lions and tigers in a wild animal show [I do not generally share this part of my life easily] but it was during one of the chapters of my so-called youth and I tended the animals in such a show in the western deserts of our beloved United States of America. I was a young man on a conventionally unconventional search.
I was the first person in the morning to open the hut which held the cages of the big cats. It was a temporary metal building, and I opened it a peeking distance so I could ascertain every cat was secure in its cage before I entered. The cats never took their eyes off me as I moved around their cages. They didn’t twitch a muscle but their eyes followed my every move. I had no doubt they would eat me if I came too close and there was a ferocious intelligence I read in their eyes that I will never forget.
Every time I see a cat, I recall the stare of the big cats in our show. I do not understand cats the way I think I understand dogs. Cats seem to know this about me and they take advantage of both my interest in their existence and my cluelessness.
I often teach Hebrew to students on the porch of my house. I encourage my greasy cat to come outside; I have given her the freedom to find a life outside my home but she follows me like a dog. There are two other orange cats that live next door. They are outside cats.
All three cats have taken to sitting on the railing of my porch and stare at me when I am teaching Hebrew. What they are doing, I do not imagine. They settle down onto their haunches and watch me. My students are forever asking me “what are those cats doing?” I have no idea but I invent stories: the language of cats is a holy language much like Hebrew, they are Jerusalem cats and only respond to the sound of Hebrew, we smell like fish, they are wild cats and contain the soul of great sages from the past [the divine Ari I have heard spoke the language of cats], etc.
They follow me with their eyes, much like the great cats I remember from my [misspent] youth. They have that same tracking as if behind their eyes they are alert to something rooted and wild I cannot share.
Their presence in my life is an appreciated and a de-stabilizing influence. My children claim to love all these cats, but they are grown my children, have left our home, and I am the remnant – sitting on my porch, teaching Hebrew, enchanted by the secret inter-species relation which has retained its mystery, after all these years.