The combatants held each otherâ€™s gaze with fiery intent. The smaller of the two circled, took a soft swing, and rolled to the left. Feeling empowered while the little one was down, the larger one lurched upon the kittenâ€™s exposed belly. Hissing, biting, and scratching, the two played out their roles. I watched, ready to step in if necessary, but wanted nature to take its course.
One of the lessons Iâ€™m learning as our cats, Pudgy and Giese, define boundaries is how human-like they are. For two years Pudgy has enjoyed a solitary reign. At times sheâ€™d attack me around the ankles as I walked by, or would wait for me to pick up her favorite toys and play â€œcatch me if you can.â€
We had our routines and rituals, and life was good. Still, I would see her interest in our dog Booker, in birds, in chipmunks, and in the various life forms outside the walls in which she dwells. She seemed, well, lonely. That is one of the reasons I willingly brought Giese into our lives. Beyond rescuing a kitten at risk, I thought the addition of another cat soul would offer companionship and lessen Pudgyâ€™s loneliness. From outward appearances, at least at the moment, I was wrong.
Giese was perhaps two-months old when she came home with me. For two days she cowered in the corner of our bathroom, but once she began to trust she blossomed. To our amazement, Giese showed no timid-ness towards Pudgy. If Pudgy was having a hateful day, it rolled right off Gieseâ€™s sense of worth. If Pudgy hissed because Giese was playing with one of her toys, that was her problem. Giese kept playing.
Now that Giese has been with us for a little over a month, Iâ€™m disappointed that Pudgy is choosing to be pouty. Instead of noticing the glee in which Giese attacks a pillow and chews the corner, Pudgy backs away and glares. Instead of joining in the chase, Pudgy sits off to the side and swats at Giese if she gets too close. No matter how Giese engages, Pudgy rebuffs her.
Last night Pudgy was sleeping soundly in front of the fireplace. Giese literally scootched herself over to Pudge inch by inch until she was almost spooning her. Slowly, slowly, Giese stretched her leg forward until her paw brushed Pudgyâ€™s back. Pudge, in her sleep-coma, only grunted. Giese nestled in closer. Pudgy awakened, glanced about, realized it was Giese, swatted her and huffed off. What could have been a nice moment dissolved into anger. Giese lingered by the fire awhile and then jumped in my lap. There was a little, â€œOh well. I tried,â€ in her body language.
Where I see the humanness in our cats is in the concept of change. Rather than embrace the new adventures, personality, and possibilities, Pudgy is mired in what was. She refuses to change or adapt, and is punishing all of us. Mostly herself, though. Iâ€™ve gone out of my way to reassure Pudgy that she is unique and important, to play with her, and to have one-on-one time with her. For the most part it hasnâ€™t softened her attitude at all. Sheâ€™s mad, darn it, and weâ€™d better notice.
I wonder what blind spots I have that keep me mired too. What changes am I afraid of? What causes me to hiss and spit when it doesnâ€™t feel like it used to? As 2014 offers a fresh new canvas, I will keep the Pudgy/Giese lesson in mind. What changes are you afraid of my friends? Anything you are willing to share?
Nonetheless, I will continue to hope they will find peace, and that thought is the best part of my day.