Monday, June 24, 2013

"Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits"

That's a quote from, depending on who you believe, Satchel Paige*, A.A. Milne or Bloom County. It's come to mind here recently, often, because of our cat Izzy.

Izzy became something of a tank some years ago. At the time we had a very elderly cat, Hobbes, who had been a member of the family since he was about three weeks old. He lived to 19 years and 5 months, and those last couple of years he was very thin. We put food out for him everywhere he liked to hang out, in the hopes that anytime he felt like eating there would be food nearby. The last six months or so that Hobbes was alive, Izzy, who was quite young at the time, discovered all those bowls of food. She discovered, too, that she could manage a bite or two from every bowl. Every time she passed them. Or, say, came within fifty feet of them. And…whoosh! Tank.

Fast forward some, and now she eats low-calorie, high-fiber prescription food. The other cats eat regular old cat food, so Izzy gets to eat in a different room, by herself. We feed the dogs and other two cats in the kitchen, then escort Izzy to the master bedroom, put her food down and close the door.

For a long time, we could go back about ten minutes later and she would've finished eating and be waiting by the door to get out. Here lately, though, we put her in the bedroom and she starts eating. She stops, though, after just a couple of minutes, comes to the door and waits for someone to come back and keep her company.

That's really all you have to do, just be in the room with her, though she appreciates a little bit of petting, too. One of us goes back in the room, closing the door behind us, and she finishes eating. It wasn't too bad when she only took three or four minutes more to finish. Now, though, she's taking eight or ten minutes.

So lately I've had eight or ten minutes, three times a day, to sit and think. Or, as the saying goes, just sit.

It's actually very pleasant, if I can keep my mind off of what I should or could be doing. It's quiet and cool and comfortable. If I can still my mind to match the calm stillness of the room, it's a very nice break, in fact. I guess this might be what meditating is like, though meditation is something I've never really been able to do. (Never really understood what it is, exactly, to tell you the truth. Do you keep your mind blank? How? Isn't that sort of like telling yourself to not think about elephants?) Anyway, it's not a bad way to spend a few minutes, though it's starting to stretch a little beyond my patience. I tell myself that Izzy, while a cat of many quirks**, is pretty low maintenance, and being forced to sit quietly for less than a quarter of an hour isn't too much to ask to improve her health.

This is what happens when you're attuned to your pets and very aware of just how psychologically complex they are. But I may still start leaving a book on the dresser.

* For some (other) very fine Satchel Paige quotes, see here. My favorite, I think: "I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I would toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation."

*She also goes nuts over bed mice.

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