I believe in the palliative power of feline friendship. During the course of the just over half century of my life in this world, I have been blessed with the companionship of several cats, each with his or her own idiosyncrasies, some more memorable than others, but all special in some unique way.
As a teenager, I had a beautiful orange tabby, Dixie, who would walk several blocks to meet my school bus only to turn and saunter off towards home ahead of me as though our daily encounters were purely by chance. More recently, I had to grin and bear the fashion and financial losses caused by Earl Gray’s predilection for chewing the backs of leather shoes. I actually caught him doing it once, and the demented expression on his face as his teeth sank deep into the buttery leather of my new pumps made me laugh in spite of the horror.
All these pets gave me comfort at some period of my life, but it is my current cat who has cemented my belief that felines really do have a special calling. Henson is a lilac-point Siamese given to me by my daughter to console me after the departure of a roommate of the two-legged variety. We fell in love instantly. As a kitten, he would travel in the pocket of my robe. He likes to burrow under the covers and sleep with his head on my shoulder. I am absolutely crazy about him.
Several months ago, I took a new job that required me to move away from Chicago, where I lived for 25 years. I had to leave my two kids, daughter-in-law and precious grandson, not to mention my friends and the afore-mentioned two-legged guy. Henson would be my only companion in the strange, new apartment in the D.C. area.
On moving day, Henson and I arrived at O’Hare and bid tearful goodbyes to my daughter. I was asked to carry him through security. As I held him, he suddenly slithered through my grasp and escaped. The next few minutes were reminiscent of the old pre O.J. murder trial days when Hertz commercials depicted him dashing through airports, only now, a barefooted, frantic me was doing the chasing. Astonishingly, no one stopped me–and no one helped me either. I finally cornered him trying to run the wrong way on a luggage belt. Minutes later, Henson was back in his carrier and we both sat at the gate trembling and exhausted.
Henson took weeks to recover. He went on a hunger strike and lost weight. I was terribly frightened that he would starve to death, but suddenly, things turned around and he began to eat, purr and be himself again. I honestly believe that despite his own trauma, Henson’s duty called him. I am pleased to report that his cuddling abilities survived unimpaired and he continues to help me through the loneliness of this transition. And that is why I believe that cats’ love heals.
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