Sunday, March 28, 2010

Routine, but far from boring

Sirius and I lately have been thinking about routine. If ever a creature loved routine, of course, it's a feline. And although my easily bored human nature resists sameness, I am slowly understanding the comfort that routine can provide.

Like all great feline-human pairs, Sirius and I have developed our own routine. It is ours alone. We have created it together; neither of us imposes it on the other. We set our routine in motion each day. We follow it until we decide to create a new one. We know what to expect and when to expect it, and the resulting rhythm strengthens our relationship.

Sirius knows to be at his door ready for breakfast around 9. After eating, the tuxedo boy waits on the couch for me to return with his fresh water. He knows that what follows the water is our morning chat, where I tell him what I'm doing that day, and he purrs enthusiastically in response. (If only everyone had such a supportive listener. The global effect likely would be profound.) He dozes for the next couple of hours, but waits again by his door around 2. This is when the feather toy comes out, and he is practically delirious by the time I enter the room. Just before dinner, Sirius and I lie down for a quick nap. And at 11, I read my newspaper with him curled next to me. Simple actions, but they anchor our days.

Far from fanning boredom, our daily rituals spark moments of happy anticipation. The sameness of the actions are spared monotony by the sameness of the joy we experience--yesterday, today, and, we hope, tomorrow.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Now's a good time

When I need a dose of sanity, do you know where I go? I go to Sirius's room.

Sirius is my gratitude role model. I may enter his room feeling frayed from the pull of everyday challenges, but by the time I leave, my breathing has evened out, my thoughts have stilled, my longing for what I don't have has evaporated. And to think I've been paying a therapist for years!

How does this transformation happen? Usually it starts when I spot his ragged left ear. How that torn flesh, ripped like a piece of paper, must have hurt for weeks afterwards. Next I rub his scarred nose, injured in the same fight perhaps, but more likely in another. For surely Sirius was forced into many unwelcome battles during his time on the streets. Unneutered males rarely tolerate the presence of other cats in their territory, and Sirius, the former housecat, would have discovered his error too late.

In one of these brawls, Sirius was bitten by an FIV cat. Somewhere, then, beneath his soft black and white fur, lies the scar that changed his future.

But Sirius does not know this. What he knows is that he spends his days in a warm, comfortable room. He knows that he never wants anymore for healthy food or clean water. He knows that the "mice" he catches now are for sport only, not for dinner. And he knows that many times a day a loving stranger visits. Sometimes she drags toys underneath his quilted blanket or sends colorful foil balls scuttling across the room. Other times she lies on the couch and invites the giant tuxedo boy to stretch himself out, full-body, on her chest. And when he does, she strokes his face and whiskers, knowing that his eyes will close with pleasure and his purrs will make his body, and hers, vibrate.

Sirius has forgotten his past suffering; any future suffering remains unknown. He is grateful now. Not an hour ago. Not tomorrow. Now.

And from him, I take away the lesson.