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How My Cat Taught Me Unconditional Love
Picture it: This is the first snowstorm of a Northern Ontario winter. A young boy is walking home from school when he notices a tiny kitten struggling towards him in the snow. He’s obviously lost.
This scene takes place in 1996. The young boy was my nephew.
He couldn’t ignore the shivering kitten, so he took it home, even though his father is highly allergic to cats. They set up a makeshift home in the downstairs bathroom, as far away from my brother-in-law as possible. They started asking around to see if anyone knew where the kitten came from, but no one claimed him.
The next day my sister called me and asked if I wanted a kitten or if I knew someone who would take one. Her husband was having trouble breathing, so she was desperate. As much as I wanted to help, I didn’t feel like having another pet as I already had a large Russian blue cat named Nikademous and a terri-poo dog named Teddy. I told her the best thing I could do was to adopt the kitten and try to find her a new home.
You can probably guess what happened. As soon as I laid eyes on it, I fell in love. It came home with me in a cardboard box and was named Sufi because I recently organized a Sufi gathering. She was a determined, long-haired tabby who didn’t take long to make herself the “queen” of the household, terrorizing Nika and Teddy despite her small size.
Nika was soon living in the basement because she never knew what the little ball of fur was going to do next…neither did I. I started to dread going downstairs and coming home from work in the morning. I encountered one disaster after another.
Things would often crash in the night and I would find plants on the floor or lamps or ornaments knocked over. Sufi once sent him the dinner plate from the windowsill, where Teddy couldn’t reach it. The bowl landed on her water bowl, which broke into several pieces and flooded the kitchen floor.
Every time a visitor arrived, she would jump onto his shoulder from the back of a kitchen chair…much to their surprise! This became a major problem as he grew and dug in his claws until he got a really good grip!
Plants were her favorite toys…except for Teddy’s tail, which she often waved seductively in front of her. She was happy to knock him off the sofa when he came to me to pet him. Her tiny claws would sometimes get caught in it, and because she was so small, he eventually reprimanded her!
Another favorite pastime was playing with toilet paper. If the end was left hanging, he jumped up, got his little claws into the paper, and ran until the whole roll was unraveled!
Another memory is forever etched in my mind. One morning I came downstairs and found one of my favorite plants on the floor. Not so unusual! I was pretty good at cleaning up after Sufi, so I put the plant back in the pot and vacuumed up the spilled dirt.
The roots of the plant were a little dry, so I took out the plastic jug I kept under the sink to water my plants. As I picked it up, the handle broke completely and the jug full of water fell to the floor. I only held the handle!
I hastily mopped the floor, watered the plant and got ready for work as I was now running pretty late… and a little annoyed.
I had an appointment that evening after work, so I rushed home to take Teddy for a quick walk. As I opened the door, I heard a strange noise. I lived alone so it was a little confusing. At first I couldn’t make out what it was, but as I opened the door I realized it was the vacuum cleaner!
I carefully walked into the living room where I left the vacuum cleaner that morning (I didn’t have time to put it away). It was one of those tank styles that had a switch on one end and I think Sufi jumped on it and started the engine.
I have no idea how long it’s been running, or how long Teddy’s been huddled in the corner under a table with a definite ‘bad dog’ look on his face. The vacuum always scared him and unfortunately I left it near his basket. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for him, but when Sufi started the engine, I think Teddy got so scared that he peed his bed in fright!
Sufi was still Sufi and for a long time he caused chaos in the home, playing with the toilet paper and my plants and breaking my decorations. She eventually learned better behavior, but remained the “queen”.
Why did I put up with all this, you may ask! Well, Sufi had a nice quality. From the first day I brought him home, he loved curling up on my chest, right under my chin, while I watched TV. A strange thing happened when he did this: no matter what challenges I faced during the day or what he did to annoy me, my anger just melted away! All I felt was unconditional love for the little ball of fur purring on my chest.
Sufi taught me that if there is unconditional love, everything is forgiven.
At the time of writing, Sufi is 12 years old. She remains the “queen” of the household, sleeping at the foot of my bed and “catching” socks and underwear since she’s only living indoors and can no longer chase squirrels and birds. She has a unique way of expressing her displeasure when left alone for too long, even though I got Sassy as a companion a few years ago. (Nika couldn’t stand it and gratefully joined another home when I moved to Canada a few years ago.)
But… he still gives and receives unconditional love. Whenever someone is upset, he seems to sense it and insists on kissing every part of their anatomy he can access and then curls up in that person’s lap. It doesn’t matter if it’s me, my daughter or a visitor – he treats everyone the same – unconditionally!
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