Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Taking the Plunge

No, I'm not getting married. I'm getting a cat. After months of consideration, I am taking the plunge into pseudo-parenthood. At first, the idea of having a cat around was all about my needs. I would have company. Someone--or something--would (hopefully)greet me and be happy to see me come through the door at the end of the day. I say 'hopefully' because I have had enough experience with cats to know that some of them live with you--and others let you live with them.

I found Minnie (whose name will probably change once I see her personality a bit more) at a shelter. I was looking for a younger cat with lots of energy. Or so I thought until I'd visited three shelters. The energetic kittens and younger cats were yowling and swiping at me through the doors of their cages. Then I saw six-year-old Minnie. She was crouched in her cage, her eyes wide as she watched the goings on around her. But I passed her by to scratch the ears of a curious tabby in the next cage.

Minnie stayed on my mind all weekend, however. Her story of being sacrificed by her former owner explained the frightened look in her eyes. She'd gone from a home she'd lived in for six years to--well--jail. I returned to the shelter to take a closer look at her. She trembled at first when the shelter attendant placed her in my arms. With no front claws, she pawed frantically at my shoulder until I soothed her.

When she was put down to roam free, she found first one hiding place on a book shelf, then an even better spot behind the computer tower under the attendant's desk. But when the attendant reached back to coax her from behind the desk, Minnie allowed herself to be pulled from her spot without complaint--no hiss or meow. And when I once again held her, she rubbed her face against my chin and my hand, claiming me as hers.

While I prepare for Minnie's arrival next Monday, I find I'm both anxious and excited. And the anxiety is curious to me. I think I've realized that this isn't just about my needs. It's a commitment to Minnie (or whomever she will become), too.

This post has absolutely nothing to do with writing. It does, however, have a lot to do with stepping outside ourselves. Which, in a way, has something to do with writing, now that I think about it. We can become very isolated and insulated when we only live inside our own heads, our own fictions. Caring for someone or something else forces us outside of ourselves.

You know, Minnie could make me a better writer with that lesson. I fully expect she'll make me a better person. Once I have her settled at home, I'll post her picture, if I can get the shy girl to step out of the shadows and pose for a minute.

I have to say that visiting the animal shelters was wrenching. There are so many helpless animals in need of good homes. If you're considering a pet, please consider adopting from a shelter. You might be lucky enough to find the next Minnie.


No comments: