Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Cheesy Article About My Cat Rosie and the Animal Nature

It seems to me that we're all about as well as can be expected given the circumstances.
Rosie has good taste. I share with her a passion for cheese. Amongst our favourite cheeses are Parmesan and Cambozola.

I've always loved dogs, we had a beautiful golden blonde slender golden retriever called Toffee when I was a child (a slightly tragic story that I may tell sometime) who loved me and whom I loved with all my heart. It was only when I was in my forties that I discovered I'm really a cat person. That shouldn't really have come as a surprise, did I ever mention that I'm a Leo born in the year of the Tiger, but it did.

If treated with love, dogs offer unconditional love and loyalty which is truly lovely. Historically cats were domesticated much more recently than dogs, so within the bounds of understanding that all generalizations are wrong (including that one) cats are much closer to their animal nature than dogs. In general cats value respect and your relationship with them is on their terms. Understanding this they can still love and be loved, knowing that we too are animals and love is as much a biological mechanism for us as it is for them. Winning the heart of a dog is easy and lovely, but winning the heart of a cat means something.

How Rosie came to be my cat is an interesting tale that I love to tell. Delia wanted us to get a kitten as she thought Irina would love having a pet. I didn't want a pet as having a pet immediately places a burden on activities like going away, but I relented. Rosie was the runt of the litter and was picked on by all her siblings and her mother, so she came to us as a little 'fraidy-cat afraid of sudden movements. So Rosie was terrified of Irina and wouldn't let her near her. Much to Irina's heartbreak. Then Delia, who was already disgusted with Rosie, fell pregnant with Benjamin and couldn't go near Rosie. To this poor creature, who I hadn't even wanted, I became her only friend in the world.

Bringing soul healing to a cat is hard, but not impossible. Their minds are simpler than humans, so easier to understand, but they're also very different to humans which makes them harder to understand. I see her character through the lense of her being a savage animal with the struggle to survive as a base imperative around which her personality has formed. She was traumatised at an early age by being exposed to raw savagery, of which she understandably became very afraid. As an animal her base nature is savagery, so she was afraid of herself, of her own nature and anything that might expose that nature. That makes everything harder. I understand what it is to be hurt and afraid of your own nature, and to build a personality (set of conditioned responses) around protecting my psyche from my own fear and pain.

My approach has been to be very calm with her and show genuine care. To allow her to approach, physically and emotionally, on her own terms. To find the place in her character where she is afraid, searching for it in her, and bringing calm to her. Alongside this I've searched out the place in her nature and being, where she is wild and savage. Where she is a killer. To understand the mind of a domestic cat is to understand the mind of a killer, a killer that tortures and partially eats her victims. I've shown her that I'm not afraid of her nature and that it's fine to be wild and to express wildness, that I like it and admire it but that it must be controlled and she cannot be cruel to my children (or to Sapphira). Rosie is now less of a 'fraidy-cat than she was and along the way she became my cat. Full-heartedly and beautifully my cat, and I'm her human.

Beyond the bounds of the house, my creature of the night is my eyes and ears. She hunts in the wild of this rural English village and she lives in a very different world to the one I inhabit. I try to see the world through her eyes and share with her how I see the world.

I also search out her intelligence and the limits of her intelligence. She still gets scared of her own reflection, thinking it is another cat. I doubt I will be able to demonstrate to her that it is just her reflection, that it is just her and have her understand that, but I don't think it can possibly do any harm to try. She is certainly intelligent, but it is cat intelligence not human intelligence. However, it still seems to me that the basic animal patterns of thinking I have discerned are still present within human intelligence, part of the animal nature of humans, but we have layered more sophisticated thinking around them and aren't normally aware of our own animal nature, thinking patterns and motivations. We like to think we're so very different from mere animals.

I learned to enjoy and express, under control, the raw savagery of my own nature through Krav Maga  and mindfulness meditation. I too am animal who must fight to survive.

My next challenge is to win the heart of a bearded dragon. I think I'm well on the way. I hope to inspire visions of fire breathing dragons with which Sapphira can keep Rosie at bay.  Rosie is an animal, she likes Sapphira but she will kill if she can. Just because she can. I show Sapphira the vulnerable aspects of Rosie's character so that Sapphira can stand her ground. We'll see how it works out.

"Ugliness cannot stand to see itself and would rather die. This is the lesson of Medusa. It's a shame they packaged the story in a feminine form, as the more normal feminine form is desire."

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