Every morning I start my day by writing in a journal for about 20-30 minutes. It builds some momentum for writer brain and gets the garbage out of my head so I can focus. It’s historically the time I’m waiting for my caffeine to kick in anyway.
This morning I was nearly done when my older cat — who is over 20 years old — put his head on my left foot and started using it as a pillow. My partner had placed my elderly cat up on the couch. I’m not sure why. Usually, the cat gets up there on his own. But they had some sort of brief conversation that involved feline body language and a few muttered human words, and suddenly my partner lifted him up on the couch, before striding away to his home office to presumably take a remote meeting, since he was wearing his headset.
I’m reluctant to upset a cat when they’re lying on me under the most ideal circumstances. And circumstances long haven’t been ideal for my cat, who due to advanced age and some pure bad luck has a number of health issues.
And then he started using my foot as a pillow, and I was truly held captive. Or held cat-tive, if you will. (And it’s fine if you won’t, since that’s a fairly heinous pun.)
He must have found a prime spot regarding nerves because I quickly felt pins and needles shooting through my left foot and lower leg.
I finished my journaling. Did the work I could do on my phone (social media management). He was still there. My foot was still singing in a disconcerting way. My e-reader was in arm’s reach, and I have a book I need to read for research so I did that for a bit, trying to block out the weirdness in my lower extremity.
Finally, we both had to go to the bathroom at about the same time, ending the standoff.
People Who Easily Disturb Sleeping Cats & Those Who Don’t Likely Live in Different Worlds
As I limped off to the bathroom, the absurdity of my situation dawned on me. It would seem bizarre to someone else, that I’d sat there for so long, letting my cat inconvenience me in that way.
No, it wouldn’t matter to them that he was elderly. Or ill. It wouldn’t matter to them that I could lose him any day now (it’s a statistical reality of being such an ancient pet, especially with medical comorbidities). And that I’m trying to eke every last drop out of the time I have left with this incredible creature.
No, to a certain kind of person, my actions would be silly. Incomprehensible. Or a sign that I don’t have pressing needs or a life that needs tending to. That I have an odious degree of work and life flexibility, that I can indulge a cat like that.
The truth is that I probably would have moved him if I absolutely needed to. If there was a pressing need to leave my home and drive somewhere to work outside of my home or an appointment. But otherwise, I imagine I would have carried him with me to a remote meeting or a conference call, to stretch out the time we had together. And my partner has done similar. Held this cat during meetings when he’s working from home.
But my own physical discomfort? Well, it didn’t rise to that standard. And I’ve known a lot of other people where this wasn’t the case. Members of my family growing up had no qualms about disturbing a cat simply because they were bored, impatient. It was no big deal. It was just an animal, after all, they’d say to me as I did the exact opposite, as I stayed put with a purring cat in my lap.
It’s frankly never been easy for me to disturb a sleeping cat. Especially this one. And sometimes I feel like people who are wired this way (“I cannot disturb this adorable creature that I’m bonding with”) and those who aren’t (“it’s just a damn animal, I’m in charge here”) live in vastly different worlds.
Different social worlds. And emotional worlds.