Rain returned in the night. As if to make a point, it came with thunder. With the windows open after the warm day, even the first distant sound pierced the silence. The second report awoke me fully, My first thought was “Where are the two cats?” I needn’t have worried. I quickly found Mia pacing the hallway, Tuffi sitting on the couch. I stroked Mia’s back and gave a gentle tug on her tail to let her know all was well. She believed me. She always does.
The thunder subsided and passed. One at a time, they made their way back to the shelf by the open windows, above the head of our bed. There they sat, quietly in the darkness, listening to the rain fall on the leaves of the laurel hedge outside. Peace returned. The two cats fell asleep.
As a kid, there were almost always cats in the house. I think Dusty was there before I was. Later, there was Smitty. They were free-range. They came in to eat but spent large parts of their day wandering the neighborhood or lounging in the backyard.
On a shelf in the house, there is an old black and white Polaroid of Jeni, about five years old, asleep, with a big grey tabby lying on her tummy. Even now, this morning, Jeni is napping on the floor in front of the fireplace. Tuffi is curled up in exactly the same position on the fleece beside her. I often wish Jeni could see these moments she sleeps through, with one of the girls curled up with her.
Animals fill a place in her soul. They are part of who she is. It’s not simply the need for something cuddly and affectionate, although that is part of it. Her relationship with the pets in her life has to do with trust; she can rely on them to be there for her, as she is for them.
I enjoy knowing Mia and Tuffi were not separated at the cat shelter, knowing that they will always be together. Jeni adopted them; I am a participant in their care. But they are not “ours”, we do not own them. Rather, I am one of their guardians. In return, they honor us with their trust and their companionship.
Life would not be complete without the pets. After all, I’m the kind of guy that gets up during a thunderstorm to check on the cats.