How do  cats know when we need them most?

Somehow they just know.


The other day, I was in the bathroom- without my phone, of course- as I had just awoken from a much-needed nap.  I did not know whether or not Jack was home.  My back started to spasm something horrible and I could feel that it just might become the intolerable, devastating pain that I have had in the past.  I hollered for Jack to no avail, since he was indeed not home.  Sheba came running, bless her kitty heart, and started rubbing, rubbing, rubbing on my legs, and somehow, her calming presence and furry massage allowed the muscle spasm to abate enough that I could get back into the bed and get some valium and my cell phone.


I was unable to clean the litter boxes for about two weeks.  Sheba and Marilyn seemed to understand.  Marilyn has had some “issues” with thinking outside the box, so to speak, in the past, but she was perfect.  Like I said, somehow they knew.  They looked at me funny when I kind of dumped the catfood into just one dish from waist-high (the best I could manage) at first, like, “Um. Mom, that’s not how you feed us.”  But they got used to it.  They learned to eat out of only one dish- a good lesson for both.


Some people say (Jack too) that animals do not “love” us, that they only have some kind of rudimentary enlightened self-interest: that is, they know who fills the dishes with kibble.  But this has not been my experience. 


Even my neurotic first cat, M, with whom I never really bonded, knew when I was sad and would comfort me.  One time I was  deeply devastated over a lost love (some loser boy) and cried and cried, inconsolable.  M came to my bed, lay by my pillow, and allowed his fur to absorb each hot salty tear.   (M was a strange one.  He was very jealous of Jack: when we got married and finally moved in together, M showed his displeasure by pooping under my pillow- clever!- and  I could not find it.  I searched everywhere.  I had to sleep like that.  This is a gross story, I know, and I talk about poop way too much, but M had this jealous love.  He did not want to share me.  He loved me.)


All of my fur babies have been rescues in some form or another: M came from a co-worker who asked me to cat-sit and then said she didn’t want him back; Sheba came from down south with five kittens in tow, and Marilyn had had so many homes and been in the shelter twice and a foster home as well (she’s only about four years old, give or take).  Maybe that is why they truly do love me, and show it in strange ways.  They know that I, like the Statue of Liberty, welcome the huddled masses of fur yearning to breathe free…

send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me…” 


Like I said, somehow, even though I never got that cat translation dictionary, somehow they just know.