This I Believe

Dorene - Seattle, Washington
Entered on September 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in my cat. When I remember why I believe in my cat, believing in a lot of other things stays simpler.

My cat is an echo from my childhood. She was born in dusty eastern MT at “Mr. Bill’s” house. “Mr Bill,” my piano teacher was a friend of my father’s from college; he was a wonderful musician, a phenomenal gardener, a person of singular faith. “Mr. Bill” was also an alcoholic who occasionally fell off the wagon, and my father allowed him to resume his job as church organist as soon as he climbed back on. “Mr. Bill” ate many holiday meals with us. He and my sister had a running contest about who could be most discrete about their pile of olive pits—until one of them discovered pitted olives. Once in awhile “Mr. Bill” would even spill the beans on some or another of my father’s college foibles. Now the exquisite music of childhood weaves into my present every time I make the cat’s fuzzy snake move or let Ms. Fuzzface play “Chomp Arm.”

My cat and I have survived together. My cat has been with me through 5 places to live, life with my husband, my husband’s personal stalker, a remarkable artist roommate, and a brother with mental health issues. My cat has trusted me through moves, windstorms, a house fire, a large earthquake and several much smaller ones, through snowstorms, power outages, and annoying neighborhood fireworks.

Kitty watched in confusion with me as the world grieved for Princess Diana and as the twin towers collapsed. Kitty has hung with me through hand surgery, tiresome physical therapy, and lots of eye surgery. Now, many days we lie amid the nest of wake-up blankets listening to news of wars, invasions, occupations, tsunami, and bombings: I scratch under her chin and tell her we should be grateful to have a roof overhead and the food I am supposed to get up and feed her.

I believe in a small furry being who can pin down a large human—and I believe in the large human allowing this to occur. My cat may keep me around only because I know how to operate the food containers, but she has no idea how many idiotic ideas she has meowed me past. Some days I admit I would keep her around just for her tendency to try to herd me toward bed late in the evening.

I believe in my cat because she makes me part of the vast cat people subculture, we of the cat hair on our black clothing, hairball in the morning stories, and half-dead tokens of devotion. My cat has shown her love with live mice, dead pigeons, and greasy chicken bones cadged outside the barbecue down the street from one home. She still forgets the cultural problem humans have about cat rear ends in our faces, but she’s in it for the long haul, and I believe in being really glad about that.