28 August 2006

I'm just trying to be the person my cat thinks I am

Our daughter, now that we have a cat she can carry around (just as Olivia does in the book) now wants to adopt fish. I think that might just drive our young and playful burly cat Jack wild, but the daughter is very interested in taking care of her pets. She loved our big black kitty, the gregarious one of two cats we have had since they were kittens, the one who let her haul her all over the place. A few months after she died we adopted a kitten, who was charming, fun, and sweet, and sadly was lost on one of her first times out of doors to a larger animal looking for lunch.

So we waited a few months and adopted another kitty from the pound named Charlie the first time we had met him and Jack the second time. It turned out we checked out a new kitty twice and we liked him the second time. He's sweet, and has some odd things about him but is a good kitty.

When we visited our familial friends in California recently, we met their dog, who was trained as a guide dog and is now a breeder dog instead of a working dog. We liked going for walks there -- it's beautiful and it's nice to get the dog outside. It's fun to see what people are like with their pets, how they interact with them and turn to them for comfort or companionship. And sometimes it's astounding or appalling to see how seriously they take their pets.

And my mind keeps circling back to my daughter's parallels with these critters we bring onto our raft. (With no guarantees they won't get lost or get eaten by crocodiles, but we try to float them along with us.) Sometimes I see it through their eyes and wonder about the dogs and cats who end up in snarling, abusive families. Or neglectful families.

The same things happen to the kids of the world, too. Some kids end up in good environments where they can grow and thrive. Perhaps a higher number of adoptive families thrive because the families have been actively trying to become parents. Self-selected parents, I think the hoops you must jump through.

But plenty of people jump through the hoops and adopt kids and bear kids without a plan. That's what those nanny shows are talking about. These people have the kids and get the houses and cars, stock the pantry full of groceries, and figure the rest will sort itself out, especially once the kids are in school.

And these creatures, the ones we have borne into the world as well as the ones we have adopted into our hearts and hearths, deserve our plan. Deserve to be played with and exercised. I can be a better person to get some gloves so I can clip our kitty's claws. We have to be able to play with him, and we sure can't now (I have a five-minute-old angry red scratch across the back of my hand as I type).


On a brief cat tangent, life has been full of messages that we're all somewhere on the food chain. Yesterday F. told us that the mountain lion that had attacked a boy on a local mountain trail a few months ago has been determined to be a young male, about a year old, starving and mad because it was fighting for territory in an area where older mountain lions are already well established. Everyone's territory is also squeezed by the mountain development (limited growth is still growth, after all, and where do we have to sprawl now that the plains are covered with cookie-cutter houses? the mountains!). That lion attacked the kid while he was holding his father's hand, and he needed a week's stay in the hospital after that. And I imagine that little guy and his family will need some help processing that information over the next while. I send hopeful thoughts his way. And it's yet another reminder that we're not always at the top of the food chain and we always need to keep our eyes and instincts sharp.

No comments: