cats

Both Sides of the Truly Story

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This weekend marks the "Birthday" of our fabulous feline friend, Truly.  Behold, the story of that day:

It was the Saturday before Mother's Day, 2009.  I'd been home from the hospital about a week since my brain cancer diagnosis.

There was no adjustment period, it was as though someone had flipped a switch; priorities instantly rearranged themselves.  It was Time To Take Care of Myself and it was a full-time position.  For Boyfriend, too.

Which is what we were doing that lovely spring morning: Boyfriend and I were sitting on the deck drinking our morning tea, enjoying the scenery, sunshine and fresh air.  We noticed a tabby cat come around the neighbor's house, stalking a bird.  I reached for my camera, but the sudden movement took the cat's attention away from her prey for a moment.   She looked back to the bird, but it was gone.  As was my photo-op.  Suddenly the cat's eyes lit up, and she bounded over to us, jumping right up on the deck to introduce herself. 

Hi! I'm your new cat!

"Well, hello, little one," said Boyfriend, and we reached down to stroke her her tiger-striped coat.  She purred with enthusiasm as she rubbed against our legs and jumped up on our laps.  I'd never met a cat so instantly sweet and friendly.  "I wonder who she belongs to...," I thought aloud.

Why, you, of course!  Silly humans!

As we continued our introductions, we couldn't help but notice how bony her little body was under her soft fur.  We hadn't seen her around before - could she be a stray?  Left to fend for herself in the woods? "Where do you live, little one?" questioned Boyfriend.

Right here - I'm home!

It was already warm and the weather had been hot all week, so I fetched the little cat a bowl of water, which she proceeded to lap up.  Just as we were considering breaking open a can of chicken for her, something caught her eye and she leapt off the deck...

...and we turned just in time to watch her skillfully catching and downing a lizard!  Nothing finicky about this feline, I thought, and what a hunter!  She was clearly in need of groceries, so back in the house I went to get some chicken...

Humans are so easy to train!

We had been talking about getting a cat, but that was BBT - Before Brain Tumor.  The whole world was different now.  Everything was different.  Nothing mattered, but suddenly everything did.  Up was down.  Black was white.  Needless to say, taking on any uneccessary responsibility, such as choosing and caring for a new pet, had been removed from the New To-Do List.  We didn't have time for any more responsibility...

You're not getting it...

But the Universe had another plan, and the cat chose us.  Here was this spunky, sweet, starving, little bundle of love in need of a home.  Literally falling into our laps!  But why us?  

Because you need me!

Just when we were contemplating where to keep our little friend safe while we made sure she wasn't one of the neighbors', she jumped off of our laps and trotted to the back door.  She stood up and pawed at the door, right underneath the handle.  After the latched door didn't budge, she sat down, facing it, and turned her little face to look back over her shoulder at us.  Her perplexed expression seemed to ask, "Um, should we go inside?"

Humans can be a little slow to get the message, even the smart ones!

Suddenly we were struck by the blatant fact before us; here was a fur-covered, bursting-with-love, cat-shaped friend, staring up at us, with nowhere else to go.   We needed her as much as she seemed to need us, and what were we waiting for, anyway?  So inside we all went, a happy family of three ever since.

We named her Truly because we believe there are truly no accidents.  That she was truly meant to be our cat, and that she truly appeared at exactly the right time: Just when we needed an on-call nurse, healer, and furry friend.  And if the timing of her appearance in our lives weren't enough, it didn't take us long to determine she knew better than us what we needed; whether it be cuddling, warmth, love, someone to talk to, distraction from work or pain, or comic relief!

Don't forget about all the mice I catch...

Oh, right, and she's a terrific mouser - a real pro.

Thank you.

Thank YOU, Truly.

Note:  We live off of Paradise Road, in the National Forest above Santa Barbara.  None of our neighbors had ever seen her before, so we gather that she may have been dropped off to fend for herself in the wild.  We have a lot of wildlife here, including raccoons, fox, wild pigs, mountain lions, bobcats, and wild turkeys.  Truly sits on our screen porch and watches the turkeys go by nearly every day, but shows no desire to go after them.  And she is completely disinterested in going outside.  Happy to have her "wild" days behind her, she is a very contented housecat and feline healer!

It was the Saturday before Mother's Day, 2009.  I'd been home from the hospital following my brain cancer diagnosis about a week.

 There was no adjustment period, it was as though someone had flipped a switch; priorities instantly rearranged themselves.  It

was Time To Take Care of Myself and it was a full-time position.  For Boyfriend, too.  

Which is what we were doing that lovely spring morning: Boyfriend and I were sitting on the deck drinking our morning tea, enjoying scenery and the fresh air.  We noticed a tabby cat come around the neighbor's house, stalking a bird.  I reached for my camera, but the sudden movement took the cat's attention away from her prey for a moment.   She looked back to the bird, but it was gone.  As was my photo-op.  Suddenly the cat's eyes lit up, and she bounded over to us, jumping right up on the deck to introduce herself.  

Hi! I'm your new cat!

"Well, hello, little one," said Boyfriend, and we reached down to stroke her her tiger-striped coat.  She purred with enthusiasm

as she rubbed against our legs and jumped up on our laps.  We'd never met a cat so instantly friendly, we began to wonder who she

belonged to...  

Why, you, of course!  Silly humans!

As we continued our introductions, we couldn't help but notice how bony her little body was under her soft fur.  We hadn't seen

her around before - could she be a stray?  Left to fend for herself in the woods?  

I'm here for you! I won't be much trouble, I promise!

It was already warm and the weather had been hot all week, so I fetched the little cat a bowl of water, which she proceeded to

lap up.  Just as we were considering breaking open a can of chicken for her, something caught her eye and she leapt off the deck.

 We turned just in time to watch her skillfully catching and downing a lizard!  Nothing finicky about this feline, I thought, and

what a hunter!  She was clearly in need of groceries, so back in the house I went to get some chicken... Humans are so easy to train!

We had been talking about getting a cat, but that was BBT - Before Brain Tumor.  The whole world was different now.  Everything

was different.  Nothing mattered, but suddenly everything did.  Up was down.  Black was white.  Needless to say, taking on any

uneccessary responsibility, such as choosing and caring for a new pet, had been removed from the New To-Do List.  

Not so fast!

But the Universe had another plan, and cat chose us.  What's that, you say?  You're too busy taking care of yourself to help anybody else?  We had taken it off the table, but here was this spunky, sweet, starving, little cat in need of a home.  Literally falling into our laps!  Why us?  

Because you need me!

Just when we were contemplating where to keep our little friend safe while we made sure she wasn't one of the neighbors', she jumped off of our laps and trotted to the back door.  She stood up and pawed at the door, right underneath the handle.  After the latched door didn't budge, she sat down, facing it, and turned her to look over her shoulder at us.  Her perplexed expression seemed to ask, "Um, should we go inside?"

Humans can be a little slow to get the message, even the smart ones!

Suddenly we were struck by the blatant fact before us; here was a fur-covered, bursting-with-love, cat-shape staring up at us,

with nowhere else to go.   We needed her as much as she seemed to need us, and what were we waiting for, anyway?  So we all went

inside, a happy family of three ever since.

We named her Truly because we believe there are truly no accidents.  That she was truly meant to be our cat.  And she truly

appeared at exactly the right time: Just when we needed an on-call nurse, healer, and furry friend.  She has a sense for what we

need when we need it whether it be cuddling, warmth, love, someone to talk to, meditation, grounding, distraction from work or

pain, or comic relief!

Don't forget about all the mice I catch...

Oh, right, and she's a terrific mouser - a real pro.

Thank you.

Note:  We live off of Paradise Road, in the National Forest above Santa Barbara.  None of our neighbors had ever seen her before,

so we gather that she may have been dropped off to fend for herself in the wild.  We have a lot of wildlife here, including

raccoons, fox, wild pigs, mountain lions, bobcats, and wild turkeys.  Truly sits on our screen porch and watches the turkeys go

by nearly every day, but shows no desire to go after them.  And she is completely disinterested in going outside.  Happy to have

her "wild" days behind her, she is a very contented housecat and feline healer!

Happiness is a Cat with a Sense of Humor

The Healing Power of Animals

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I've been meaning to write about this for a long time, but it always seems too big a subject to tackle in a single blog post.  And so it is.  But I'll touch on it, anyway, as an introduction of sorts to my next few posts.  In which I'll be writing about my animals: two old horses and a cat, and their incredible gifts.  I may even get into some of the animals from my past, too - I still carry their lessons with me today, and they'll always be a part of my story.

Why now?  Several things came together for me recently to finally motivate me to take on the GIANORMOUS subject of animal healing:

First; October is Adopt-A-Pet Month.  (It's still October, right?)

Then; while flipping through the Santa Barbara Independent's Annual Animal Issue, I came across an ad for "The Cutest Pet in Santa Barbara" Photo Contest.  Deadline was a few days off, why not take the photo-op to brag about my wonderful, healing, feline friend?  Game on!  Hundreds of the cutest photos of Truly later, I submitted my final (it was tough!) choice, along with her "cutest" story, to the paper for the contest.  But I realized that writing about her "cuteness" was merely scratching the surface of all there is to the Truly story, inspiring me to get to the rest of it!

Next; I'm due to start my 7th round of chemo next week. Chemo weeks always remind me of how powerful our connection to our animals really is: mine each mirror my pain in some way, reminding me that I'm not doing anything alone.  As it is every month: Truly is my on-call bed and couch-mate, cuddling with her mom for all the extra naptime; my horse Stevie tends to take a hit to his own health, clearly reflecting my distress; and Reggie, twelve hundred miles away in Colorado, causes my friend Jenny to call me up and ask, "You doing okay?  Is this a chemo week?  'Cause Reggie's really droopy today."   Yep, I've got a pair of horse-shaped pillars on either side of me and a cat purring on my lap - my own personal team of energy boosting, pain-absorbing, animal healers to pick me up when I'm down.

And finally; I received the following email from one of my greatest animal healing (human!) friends, who lives entirely too far away in Switzerland.  Warning: get out the tissue!

I RESCUED A HUMAN TODAY*
                
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.  I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.  I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
        
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.  I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
        
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past.  I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
        
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.  I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
        
 A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.  I would promise to keep her safe.  I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.  I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.  So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors.  So many more to be saved.  At least I could save one.
        
I rescued a human today.

May you be blessed enough to be rescued by an animal in your lifetime.  If you have already, I welcome your stories in the comments. 

*Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog's professional dog trainer. Janine's passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2010 Rescue Me Dog; www.rescuemedog.org.

Adopt A Pet

Truly FIERCE

Truly FIERCE
Description: 

FIERCE.  Kung-fu Truly

Truly Digging the New Office Arrangement

Truly Digging the New Office Arrangement
Description: 

Not for cats.

Truly In Her Juice Box

Truly In Her Juice Box

Truly Missed Her Mom

Truly Missed Her Mom

Truly Packed and Ready to Go

Truly Packed and Ready to Go

Prescription for Nothingness

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I went to bed last night in a funk.  I woke up in a funk.  Despite my efforts at "taking it easy", the requirements for application to county and state medical financial aid are stressing me out.  Multiple appointments at various offices around the city and via telephone, each requiring me to detail reasons for and proof of my absence of income, rehash my broken marriage and subsequent divorce, chronicle just how somebody has this much debt...

It's making me TIRED.

Boyfriend just drove down the lane, off to an evening of Wednesday night sailing.  As soon as the Land Cruiser disappeared from view, the project I was working on imploded, leaving a lengthy, indecipherable error message in it's wake.  

Now what am I supposed to do?

The dishes are clean.  The laundry is done.  And Boyfriend even vaccumed this morning, after he scooped the litterbox.

Can't drive anywhere.  Shouldn't hike around in the wilderness by myself.  Time alone?  With nothing to do?

Huh.  I guess I'll take some books, magazines, my iPod, and the cat to the front porch.

I'll even take it with a full glass of water.  Now how do I get a refill?

Truly a master of relaxation

Truly a master of relaxation

Truly a master of relaxation

Truly

in
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As in "Yours Truly".

As in "Truly, Madly, Deeply".

As in "It's truly no accident that this cat showed up when she did".

As in "Truly-The-World's-Sweetest-Smartest-Most-Beautiful-Cat-Ever".

But they all seemed a bit long, so Truly seems just right.

The prize for the most thoughtful suggestion, however, goes to my dad, who suggested "Eartha Kitty", because then we "wouldn't have to change her last name".  I'd known Eartha Kitt was this beautifully exotic-looking songstress from the 50's and 60's, but did you know that she also played Catwoman during the final season of the the television series "Batman"?

Good one, Dad.

Unfortunately, that suggestion came after we'd determined Truly was truly the best name for her.  She seems to like it and it resonates with us, so we're sticking with it.  Naming the next girl-cat may have become much easier, however!

Thank you so much for all your suggestions!

Truly a Cat
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