If anything, my cat taught me not to give a fuck. Cats don’t care what you think.They don’t care if you’ve had a bad day, they demand to be petted, fed, played with, and groomed, at times, but really, they couldn’t give you the time of day. You are a vessel of convenience to a cat. Ok, they care if there’s a bird outside the window or where the hell the pointer light is, but other than food, they don’t care if anyone in this world exists, but them. It’s an honestly raw and a very zen like way of living. There’s less suffering for all, really.
Friends of cats make narratives about them. I do it all the time. I look at my cats and anthropomorphize their thoughts and actions.
“I’m staring at a wall looking into the essence of my soul outside of my soul. Om.”
“Oh I see the human is eating. Time for my treats. Stop eating, human.WHERE ARE THEY?”
“You look upset. I’m going to use this opportunity to get some pets. Pet me until I scratch you. kthx!”
“Ha. You failed at that glowing box game thingie….I HEAR CHIRPING WTF WHERE BE THE BIRD?”
“I see you’re having a bad day. Look at me. Stick your head into a pillow. Don’t worry about the breathing part. Just do it. Where’s your God now?”
“Look at me. Now look at my head. Look at me again. Look at your hand. Now look at my head. Look at your hand. YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.”
Cats make me amuse myself, and by doing so they amuse me to no end. I guess we also like to pretend that our cats are very different from one another and that they have different personalities, hence the imposed narratives. They do have their individual ticks, fears, triggers, exciters, and motivators.
Asha was my first cat. Before her I didn’t really care much for cats. I was mostly a dog person. My friend Heather (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Se%C3%B1orita-Serpiente/319600203736?fref=ts) was having trouble with her dog bullying her older cat. She put a call out on facebook wondering if anyone would take in Asha. I was home for most of the day for my kids and volunteered to take her in. I thought it would be a great way to get my kids to connect with something outside of their parents and school (I’d read autistics share an ethereal existence with cats). My husband picked her up and Asha came home to live with us in our then house which we called Casablanca.
Like most cats, Asha hid under a bed for two days before coming out to explore her new home. For the first few weeks she’d stay at the doorway of the living room and look like Batman overseeing Gothman. I’d pass by her, give her pets, and call her The Dark Night. Then after a bit, she got used to the chaos of the kids. She’d get bolder and sit beside us as we hunkered in for a night of tv watching and book reading. She wouldn’t sit in our laps, but she’d sit at the top of the sofa or sleep on the carpet. Her favorite time was bedtime. I’d tuck the kids in and head back to the living room. Asha would meander over to the kids’ room and look in on them, kind of trying to make sure they were asleep. When she was sure, she’d start turbo-ing around the house, up and down the stairs. Since she was a bit of an overweight kitty, all you’d see was this fat black fur-ball slowly try to speed through the house. It was a hilarious sight to behold.
On my low days, I’d come home and she’d stare at me from her perch on the sofa, look at me with those big yellow eyes, and just be her indifferent self. If I sat down, she’d nuzzle me and purr loudly as I ran my fingers through her fur. She’d flop over and wait until I gave in to her demands. “That’s right. Get my scent all over you. RUB THAT BELLY. You’re mine,” was what I’d think she was saying in between each calming purr. It was such a soothing time petting her.
Asha used to be an outdoor cat. A friend, Verona (http://codebloo.net/verona/) does a lot to help out animals (she currently helps find homes for abandoned dogs in Los Angeles), found Asha and passed her onto Heather. So she’s very much a rescue cat, but a very laid back one. Asha has street smarts. We used to live in the apartment on top of Big Sushi in The Annex. We never had an issue with pests because Asha was a diligent guard cat. One night though, she had no idea what to do with her treasure so she dumped a mouse beside me in bed as I slept. I woke up and found a terrified mouse hiding under my pillow. I screamed. Asha looked at me from the foot of the bed like I was some sort of traitor. “How dare you hide the enemy!”
I keep switching tenses (I apologize for this, but I’m leaving it as it is), because I don’t know what’s what when it comes to Asha today. She’s become such a constant to me over the years. One of the first faces I see in the day is hers. I keep telling my cats I’m going to eat their faces. Asha had a “buddy” in our youngest kitty, K2. The relationship between those two was of tolerance. It’s the best in lesbian marriages, I think. You see, Asha was already fixed when we got her and K2 wasn’t, thus she had to go through the kitten’s first stages of heat. When K2 would start howling for satisfaction, Asha would get right up in her face and stare at her. Then, when she thought the moment was right, she’d swat her in the face. “We’ve had enough of your impudence NOW CALM THE HELL DOWN.” That or Asha would hump her to settle her down. Of course, when K2 finally got spayed and had her cone of shame removed, the first thing she did was to go right up to Asha and give her a giant swat in the face as revenge. Then I couldn’t stop laughing. I told everybody.
When not sleeping on the sofa, Asha would sleep by my feet at night and for the last few months she’d become a lap cat. She didn’t care if we had a laptop, a book, or a kid on our lap when we were on the couch. She demanded Asha lap time just by her Batman stare. “THE DARK KNIGHT REQUIRES HER NAP SO MAKE IT HAPPEN.” We’d always oblige. We spoiled her so much.
Asha was a cat; black cat with yellow eyes who watched over my kids until they slept. She liked cat nip, a bit of tuna for a treat, and sleeping by the window in a sun beam. Asha didn’t care for mice and liked to watch the birds from the window by my desk. She was afraid of no one, but children in the house (with the exception of her subjects, my kids). The Dark Knight was actually quite fond of Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy and would often stand right in front of the television to watch the explosions. She was like every other cat in the world: making you love them just by existing and being their catty demanding selves. I didn’t take as many photos of Asha simply because when I did, she’d appear as this black silhouette. With a fat paw on my face or on my knee she’d let me know that I was never alone. She was enigmatic, would blend into the periphery, was as fat as a bear, and I love her so very much. Asha The Dark Knight McDonough was one of my dearest best friends.
I hope we made her life enjoyable. I know we’re not an easy family to live with: chaotic, unpredictable, and on the go, but we make time for each other. Our cats are a big part of our family. They are our fur kids. Asha had a stroke today. Her heart gave out. She was 15 years old.
Dear Asha, thanks for making me feel loved with each headbutt, with each time you’d give in to my cuddles, and for making me understand that sometimes to overcome the big things, all we have to do is stare at a wall for just a little while. There’s beauty in all the possibilites of an empty mind; a blank canvas. Now there’s this little black furry hole (and a forever dent in the sofa where you used to sit), in my life where you used to be.
That kid who used to try to poke you in the eye graduated into junior high today. Not that you care, but I’d thought I’d let you know.
May you rest in peace, stay sweet and party on, Asha. You deserve all the best laps, pets, and love in the world. One last one for the road:
“Whosa my little kitty? Whosa my little dark baby of the night? You are.”