We have a cat.
And, as cats go, she’s a good one.
I don’t know that that’s saying much, since Cattie’s the only feline we’ve ever owned, but we do a lot of cat comparison between her and friends’ cats, so we feel we have a solid basis for saying so. She doesn’t claw the furniture or puke up hairballs onto the foot of our bed. She doesn’t bring in headless mice from the yard or sit on our faces whilst we peacefully sleep. She doesn’t require our unadulterated adoration (she’s a low maintenance chick) and she’s never peed outside the litter box in a fit of disapproval (unlike my bunnies, who make their dissatisfaction known to the world). Cattie may meow when she doesn’t want to be held (which is most all the time) but she never scratches to fight off our cuddles. That she is unsocialized and hisses at strangers isn’t even her fault; we simply never have people over to teach her that other people aren’t threats to her peaceful habitat, but merely (usually wonderful) additions to it.
Her only true fault is that she now considers the red laser dot a flickering curiosity and no longer worthy of chasing after, which, to me, lowers her entertainment value exponentially.
So, all in all, Cattie’s a pretty swell little ball of fur. But, still, a little ball of fur. A forever shedding little ball of fur.
And since about half of my collective family is cat allergic, that hits a tender spot when I start prepping the house for visitors. I’ve come up with a fairly successful routine involving vacuuming (twice… or thrice) the floors and all soft furniture, laundering curtains and pillows, whole-house dusting, and, to top it off, spraying Febreze Allergen Reducer throughout the house until the entire building serves as a giant air freshener pod to all of Goodhue County.
Despite Cattie’s goodness, sometimes I wish I could put her in a bag.
Well, not so much a bag as a sphere. Like some kind of clear, perpetually inflated bubble-boy sphere with her little feet poking out so she could still walk—and we could still see her—but which would all the while cut the world off from her hairy dander-y-ness. I imagine it and am tickled on two fronts:
- That she’d just look funny, with her little Cattie toes pointed inward and her walking in the stiff-legged way cats walk when they are haltered or leashed or otherwise restrained (*snicker* *snicker* *snort*)
- That her hair would be contained in a baggie of sorts that I could merely zip off, throw away, and replace anew, without endangering the rest of the house to an endless rain of white shorthair fur.
But every cat owner knows that feline hair containment is an illogical dream.
I can giggle and sigh in hopeful relief all I want, but the truth is that, since we decided to have a cat, we need to accept the unappealing “extras” that cats come with, like annual veterinary check-ups, monthly deworming pills, flea drops, claw clipping, midnight stampedes, death stares, and, yes, even endless shedding.
Such are life’s gives and takes.
The topic of relationships, of sacrifice and investment, came up recently in a conversation with friends.
It started as a discussion on trust and obedience and what each of those things entail. In that discussion, as I listened to others talk, it occurred to me that either could be considered both action and condition; that acting in trust or obedience is as important as feeling (or, rather, being) that within your heart and that neither part is exclusive of the other.
As an example, one person said that trusting their significant other with completing a task (e.g. mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathroom, picking up the dry cleaning or stopping at the grocery store on the way home) meant staying out of the way and ACTING IN BELIEF that that person would do it, not sitting around twiddling and doubting and checking up on them to see if you might “catch” them in a moment of forgetfulness. And what for? To say, “HA! I knew you’d forget!”?
That’s neither loving nor trusting. In fact, it’s downright hurtful.
But, investment? What does investing have to do with trust or obedience? Isn’t that only a money thing?
As the conversation continued, we backtracked in history to the beginnings of our now wonderful relationships, whether they be friendships, romances or, even, professional associations. We came to realize that…
Sometimes you have to do things that don’t particularly excite you to make relationships work.
Not to be confused with doing something you don’t want to do, like dating someone who insists you turn vegetarian when bacon is your absolute favorite thing in the world (or vice versa), or being forced to watch Sci-Fi religiously when you have a philosophical problem with entertaining the oxymoronic notion that something could be both science and fiction, which is logically impossible because science is “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths” and, therefore, cannot be fiction.
But, when you’re in those fleeting beginnings of getting to know someone there are certain choices that need making, and most of them involve giving up part of YOU to gain part of THEM. For instance:
- YOUR Time, like giving up your weekends and free time to do something they want to do, like seeing a Sci-Fi movie or going camping;
- YOUR Effort, like when you have to sweat it out finding the perfect thing to wear to the “meet the parents” dinner;
- YOUR Resources, like money or the last slice of chocolate cake, because you’re just that awesome of a person;
- YOUR Health, as in, when your significant other passes along his flu to you and you must suffer together… *ugh*; or
- A combination of any of these things that are YOURS.
And why would anyone do this?
Because [good] relationships are sooo handy. They help us learn new things, stretch our minds, and understand the world better. They provide helping hands when we’re in need and company when we’re lonely. They offer advice when we’re conflicted, ideas when we’re in a mental funk, and alternative perspectives when ours just aren’t cutting it.
Good relationships are like school, but without the lame homework assignments and progress reports that your mom has to sign.
In short, relationships challenge us to get outside our comfort zones and into a zone where we can accept uncertainty and embrace change, both of which nobody in this world is immune from, even if they lived in a cave away from all other people in the world.
Of course, they could just sit there and wither away. And some people do, figuratively speaking. Those are the people who can’t give up their stuff, who can’t manage to walk together with other people (or animals) on any significant level. Those sorts of folk will be hard pressed to reap the rewards of any positive relationship; they’ll either have zero relationships (or very fragile ones) or be trapped on a treadmill of broken “walks” where they can’t see beyond themselves far enough to figure out what keeps tripping them up. As life coach and speaker Quentin McCall states,
IT’S PRETTY DIFFICULT TO WALK TOGETHER WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS
NO CONCERN FOR YOUR PRESENCE OR PACE.
Life is hard enough as it is. Don’t be a tripping wire to your own walk.
Moving past losing things that are YOURS, there is plenty to be gained from these “losses”.
Not only in being a “better”, more well-rounded person who is able to stand fast amid life’s challenges, but there are…
- Financial gains (Tax breaks and cheaper rent? Yes, please!);
- Professional benefits (e.g. improved communication in business dealings);
- Psychological advantages (improved mood);
- Physical improvements (For one, a healthy mental and emotional state often manifests as improved physical health; this can also loop back to a financial reason, given you’ll likely take fewer sick days away from work and will have fewer medical costs.)
A cat bubble is funny in theory, but really that’s just me being selfish.
Despite initial struggles and the anxiety of having a cat we never planned to have, I’ve grown up in ways I otherwise would not have had Cattie not entered my life. I’ve learned to share my space and to not be (so) upset at being woken in the middle of the night by a random noise (though I still can’t help my rage sometimes). Cat memes are A LOT funnier. My cat-loving auntie and I have become closer, and my dad and I can now swap cat stories, his from his childhood when he had to deal with my aunt’s then-cats and mine from similar cat experiences (and understandings) now.
The most unexpected benefit is that the cat has unearthed my hubby’s tender, playful nature (never would I have imagined him playing chase and tackling and tickling a ten-pound kitty cat on the floor of the living room).
It’s impossible to bag up a Cattie in a shed-free baggie as much as it is impossible to avoid change or uncertainty. Her hair everywhere is part of the “giving up” that is essential to a good relationship and a better, more well-rounded me. I have to give up a hair-free, dander-less house in exchange for her adorable furriness. (Yep. She’s pretty adorable.) So, yes, vacuuming multiple times and making my house smell like an advertisement for Febreze is annoying, but seeing how happy she makes the hubby by her playfulness and those moments when she keeps my feet warm by cuddling up against them at nighttime makes up for the annoyances.
And, had I never experienced the joy that is Cattie, I never would have come to a full appreciation of a hair-free house. Meh… some things you can only dream of…
Here’s to happily accepting (and even coming to admire) the unappealing “extras”,