March 18, 2007

And the cat's in the cradle with a silver spoon...

Baby, its cold outside...

Kung Pao is my cat. He adopted me about six years ago and has been my faithful companion ever since. I first met this reincarnated Taoist entity when I was a student at Sinclair Community College taking a general philosophy class. One of my fellow students was having a difficult time with Plato and when she asked the professor for help he referred her to me.

It was late in the quarter and if she didn’t do well on her final paper she was going to fail the class. I didn’t think there was much I could do to help her and was going to politely turn her aside. She managed to persuade me to change my mind when she offered to provide homemade dinners as long as we worked on her paper. At the time I was a bachelor living with a house full of roommates and the promise of food served in containers that weren’t Styrofoam or cardboard was a real deal maker.

The sky was clear and the sun warmed a perfect spring afternoon the first day we met at her house to work on her paper. She asked how grilled steaks sounded and then fixed me an iced-tea. As soon as I sat down in the wicker chair outside on the wooden deck just off of the kitchen porch a cat strolled up, rubbed once against my legs and then jumped in my lap. He quickly settled in and started soaking up the love while I enjoyed the lovely day.

Sherri stepped out of the back door carrying a plate of steaks and a pitcher of iced-tea. She started to say something and then gasped in surprise.

“What’s the matter?”

“I’ve been feeding that cat for six months and he won’t even come up on the deck until I’m back in the house and the door is closed. How did you manage to get him to sit in your lap?”

“He just walked up here and got in my lap, I didn’t do anything. I thought he was your cat.”

For the next three weeks Sherri and I repeated our dinner and study sessions. The weather continued to be idyllic for early spring and we enjoyed sitting out on the deck and soaking up the sunshine. Kung Pao always joined us and it was if he looked forward to my visits and waited anxiously for the weekend when he knew I would be coming over to study. I think Sherri was a little miffed by the rejection of Kung Pao in favor of me but she never said much about it. Every now and then a tiny frown would flash across her face and she’d shake her head in consternation as if to say, “you bastard.”

The quarter was coming to a close and Sherri was preparing to return home to Youngstown, Ohio. She passed the philosophy class and thanks to our efforts together she even got an A on her final paper. I was preparing to relax and enjoy a Sunday of video gaming when there was a knock on the front door. I got up off the sofa and when I answered the door there stood Sherri holding a pet carrier with Kung Pao inside, a litter box and a bag of litter. A little frown crossed my face. “What’s this?”

“I’m making my final stop before leaving. I don’t have much time so I’ll make this brief. This cat knows where he’s supposed to be even if you don’t know it yet. He loves you and I think he’d be miserable if he never saw you again.” With that said she walked into my house, set the litter box down in the kitchen and filled it with cat litter. When she opened the pet carrier Kung Pao walked out and promptly put the new box to immediate use. When he finished he walked down the hallway, jumped up into my bed and laid down as if he’d been doing so his entire life and began grooming himself.

Sherri left and I never saw her again. Kung Pao never left and remains one of my best friends to this day. I wasn’t looking for a cat when I met Kung Pao and I certainly wasn’t looking for a spiritual teacher. I thought I was figuring things out just fine all by myself. He knew better and decided to take me under his metaphorical wing. I didn’t think I was capable of taking care of anyone besides myself. Kung Pao taught me otherwise.

When Felicia and I decided to move in together I was worried about what to do with Kung Pao. Felicia is a dog lover and not to fond of those of the feline persuasion. She already had one dog, Mina and they had been living together since she was a puppy. I finally convinced her to give Kung Pao a chance. I promised her that if things didn’t work out, we’d figure out something to do.

Now he sits on Felicia’s lap and soaks up the loving. I think it is his way of saying, “I knew where you were heading all along and I wasn’t going to miss this for the world.” At times when he is nestled comfortably upon my wife’s pregnant belly looking much like a guard on duty I can’t help but smile and wonder; what lessons he is waiting to teach my son.


Blogger Bardouble29 said...

Fantastic blog...I am a cat lover and every cat I have ever had picked me. These are cats that decided I was going to be theirs, not the other way around.

March 18, 2007 8:33 PM  
Blogger notfearingchange said...

ahhh....so sweet.

March 18, 2007 9:27 PM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I had a cat pick me once. Best friend ever! We had such great conversations. Seriously!

If there is such a thing as reincarnation I want to come back as a cat. Frankly I think it would be a step up from being human.

March 18, 2007 9:56 PM  
Blogger Wizened Wizard said...

Wonderful story.

Where I live, it's sad to say, a cat's life is undervalued. People "drop them off" or just put them outside to fend for themselves. Too often they're food for the coyotes or fishers. The other result of this kind of inhumane - but very HUMAN - treatment is that those of us who love the hairy little beasts never have to go out and buy one. Wait a little while, and a cat will adopt you.

They're picky about their food, and they're picky about who they own. Apparently you've been picked by a good one.

By the way, tell Kung Pao that Heidi and Dream send their regards...

March 19, 2007 8:40 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

I am very allergic to cats. But cats love me. They always want to jump in my lap and crawl all over me.

Maybe they know I'm allergic to them? Maybe they don't love me? Maybe they want me dead?

March 19, 2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

How cute. I was just telling my girlfriend how I wish I could have a cat- but I am SO allergic!

March 19, 2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger Dirk_Star said...

Jay, I'm sure the cats don't want you dead. How would they be able to torment you if you were dead.

Deb, you would get over your allergies if you have a cat long enough. He he...

March 19, 2007 11:04 AM  
Blogger jali said...

What a sweet, sweet story.

March 19, 2007 12:12 PM  
Blogger Crabby said...

Yanno, I had to find a new home for my dog Smilin George recently. Much as I loved the little guy he was constantly guilty of "improper urination". Bob's new speakers being one of the final crimes committed. I had several applicants even after I disclosed his "love" (and I do mean that in the most biblical sense) affair with his stuffed bunny. Well sir, smilin George found himself a real sugar momma. He gets more home cooking than I do. But......she has cats. The cat is George's all time nemesis.
but get this....I got a mail from this gal and Smilin George is now humping..bunny the kitty cat. Go figure!

March 19, 2007 12:45 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

Awww, man.... You've got me tearing up. I've always had cats, until I married DH (who was/is allergic). I even had to put my cat (my best friend, joined my family when I was in 3rd grade) down a few years ago because she was getting too old. And I haven't had any cats in the family (mine, or my parents or inlaws) since then. I miss them.

Sending *Cyber Snuggles* Kung Pao's way. Glad he & Felicia didn't have any problems with each other. It's great when things mesh like that!

March 19, 2007 2:08 PM  
Blogger foam said...

your cat is a sage...

March 19, 2007 2:31 PM  
Blogger foam said...

i'm linking you btw..

March 19, 2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger MasterQ said...

I've owned and been around cats all my life. I can't imagine life without a feline friend or two.

March 19, 2007 3:17 PM  
Blogger Lizard Princess said...

You have probably already heard this, but there have been cases where cats have smothered infants while they sleep (sorry, I'm being a debbie downer)....But your cat looks far too smart to do anything like that!
I thought you'd want to be aware of the possibility.
It's absolutely amazing how many crazy worries having a baby brings into one's life- stuff you've never thought of before as remotely dangerous all of a sudden pose some weird threat. A lot of it is hype, in my opinion- we live in the safety age- 2 air bags for every passenger and helmet laws for scooter-riders. It's pretty ridiculous. Hmmm, sounds like a possible subject for a post!!!

March 19, 2007 8:17 PM  
Blogger Dirk_Star said...

Lizard princess, the story of cats suffocating babies is one of the classic urban legends.

It go back to the days of the Salem witch trials. Cats were believed to be the familiars of witches. It was believed that a witch could enter the body of a cat and use it to enter the home of an enemy.

The cat would then stand upon the chest of the child of the enemy and and stand nose to nose with the child. The cat would then breathe in such a manner as to deprive the child of oxygen.

Never happened, never could. This myth has been disproved by scientists many times.

Babies are more likely to be smothered by a large dog falling asleep on top of them.

March 19, 2007 10:24 PM  
Blogger DNR said...

The animal world can teach us so much, if we will but listen. We have 4 and 2 dogs. They all get along fine and the cats never go outside. My mom runs a ‘Do No Kill’ shelter. She has about 120 cats and 40 dogs. 30 cats are hers, they stay at her house. The other 90 are available for adoption.

Another wonderful Dirk-Star story.
Thanks for the smile today.

March 21, 2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

Yay for big loving kitties! Our cat ran away the first night home from the animal shelter. Two weeks later, he came back and hasn't left in 6 yrs! He's the best.

March 25, 2007 7:57 AM  

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