This is a post about how much I fucking love my cats. I was in no way planning on writing this post today, or possibly ever. But last night my baby boy, my perfect, favorite, sweet, psycho, needy, crazy, lunatic cat Sid Vicious (Darth Siddius the Kittius) died unexpectedly. And it’s honestly the only thing I can think about, and I need to talk about it somehow, and as this is my blog I get to do what I want.
I had a friend ask me recently what the point of pets was. I thought everyone got how awesome fuzzy sweet creatures were, but that question reminded me that it’s likely not everyone understands how integral my cats are to my mental well-being.
People are scary. They require understanding. They expect things of you. They can be passive aggressive, or angry, they don’t always tell you what they want, they can be hard to read. Oftentimes they challenge you and ask you to do incredibly difficult things, especially if you have a mental illness (people ask me to eat and not to cut, which are two of the hardest things in the world for me). While people can also support and share and talk and comfort, they ask for these things in return, and they have biases, and they can be confusing. They require energy. They rarely allow you to be wholly yourself, as each person in the world has different needs and triggers and concerns which you have to be aware of when you’re around them. People have a limited supply of how much they’re willing to listen to you bitch and moan or cry or hate the world. So people are both limited in what they can offer you, and they limit you in that they have expectations and needs and frustrations. For me especially, communicating with others can be particularly difficult, and because of the sensitive nature of a lot of my problems, I don’t feel comfortable being very open around other people. Especially because people often get really uncomfortable and try to make me do things I don’t want to do when I open up to them, I’ve learned that it’s often better to not rely on others.
Pets are completely different. Some people might suggest that animals only like you cause you feed them, or that they don’t really distinguish between people, or they don’t actually care about you. Well even after I moved out, I was Sid’s special favorite. From the moment I walked in the door at my parents’ to the moment I left, he would follow me around, yelling at me to pet him or love him or pay attention to him. He liked me and my dad better than anyone else, and he had his habits with us: he’d wake my dad up first thing in the morning and have a cup of coffee with him. He was needy. He wasn’t afraid to tell you what he wanted, but he never needed that much. He screamed to tell you he wanted to be petted or to stop petting him. He purred to tell you yes please. He hated being ignored, and god forbid if you let a different cat under the blankets first. He had Personality. SERIOUS personality, and he knew who he liked and he knew who he didn’t like, and he liked his older brother and he hated the dog and he loved being cuddled and he hated being held and he loved the sun and he hated loud noises. Sure he needed things, but nothing draining. Just some love. Some cuddles. Some pets.
He was distinct. He knew who he was and he made no secret of it so you never had to guess what he wanted or needed. And best of all he didn’t give a shit what you did unless it affected him. He would love you and rub up against you and only get unhappy if you ignored him. If you were struggling or not eating or depressed, he treated you exactly the same (although his magic cat sense told him when you were sick and he’d give you extra special cuddles). He didn’t judge. He didn’t ask you to do things that were outside of your comfort zone. But he did calm me and comfort me. He was warm and soft and purred, and made me feel close to another being, a being that didn’t require me to censor my thoughts or my feelings at all. Full and complete acceptance.
And what is absolutely wonderful about this kind of acceptance, this unthinking support, is that it made me a better person. I am not usually a very nurturing person. I’m not good at patience. I’m not good at spending time trying to puzzle out what someone is saying or wants or needs. I’m generally not very mothering or very caring. But sweet baby Jesus, when I was around that cat I had the patience of a saint. I would pet him for hours. I would sit without moving until my legs were numb rather than wake him up if he was sitting on me. If he was complaining about something, I would pet him and play with him and feed him and do whatever I could to try to figure out what he wanted because he was my baby, he was my responsibility. He had no better way of telling me what he wanted than meowing, so I had to figure it out. And he brought me back to reality. All of my cats do. When I’m drifting in my mind, somewhere unpleasant and self-hating, and a cat comes by and sticks his butt in my face, there’s only so much more metaphysical musing I can engage in. The physical sensation of touching a soft cat and having them arch up into my hand and purr can do more to center me than anything else.
And so my cats make me feel stronger. They make me feel as if I can take care of something, as if something needs me, as if something loves me no matter what and doesn’t need me to change. They remind me of the good bits of the world, and they remind me that in this exact moment there is a silly, goofy, sweetheart in front of me, tickling me with his tail and begging for a good scratch. They don’t demand that I change myself or make myself better or become healthier. That’s what scares me about other people. Other people put food in front of me or take away my razors or put me in therapy. My cats just show up and tell me that they need me. And then I have to remember for myself that I need to take care of me to take care of them. They make me strong enough to do things outside of my comfort zone on my own terms. They butt into my life when I least expect it and don’t ask me to feel better…they just ask me to cuddle with them for a bit. And somehow this utter rejection of everything that’s going on in my mind makes me feel better anyway.
I love my cats for the freedom they give me. And so I will miss my Sid more than I can say. I’ll miss how if you pet him just the right way you could make him do somersaults. I’ll miss how loud and obnoxious he was. I’ll miss how you could make him go flying across the room in terror if you sneezed too loudly. I’ll miss how he always had to be at the center of everything. I’ll miss how when I left my parents house my clothes would be nearly gray from all the cat fur I had gotten on them while cuddling him. I will miss how statuesque he looked when sitting still and upright, and how he and his brother made perfect little Siamese bookends whose heads moved in synch at any noise. I’ll miss the stupid fighting under the covers when two cats tried to get in at once. I’ll miss it all. Mostly I’ll miss that my baby who loved me for nothing more than the fact that I would give him my time is gone.