Cats: An Exercise in Patience

At the risk of becoming labeled a "crazy cat lady," this weekend, I adopted a second cat. I've had only one cat for the last five years and as my friend Jade kindly pointed out to me, "He's not even a whole cat!" You see, Felix is a three-legged rescue cat.

The new cat, Cornelius Crumplehorn (I kid you not) is also a rescue cat with a very sad story. After a life of being abused and neglected, he's been in foster care with a wonderful foster mom who really wants him to settle down in a comfortable new home. I really want it to be my home.

The challenge now is introducing two cats to one another. If you've ever done this in your life, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't ever had the pleasure, let me tell you this -- it is an exercise in patience!

I live in a small apartment and have begun the game that I affectionately refer to as "musical cats." One cat gets locked in the bedroom while the other cat gets the run of the rest of the place, and then, SWITCH, the next cat gets sprung from the boudoir and his buddy takes his place; it's exhausting.

I don't quite know how parents function in life when they have children at home. I've missed three nights of sleep and am currently running on one brain cell. Even as I write this (at 5:15 a.m.) I wonder if it makes any sense.

Here's the thing about cats; they live life on their own terms. They don't come when you call them, they don't play on command, and they don't bow down to human wants. Cats do what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they want to do.

I have a great friend, Beverly, who I commonly refer to as the "cat whisperer." She is my go-to expert on all things feline. She just seems to know what to do at every turn.

"Help," I asked frantically last night, "what do I do?"

I felt like an alcoholic in a twelve-step program calling my sponsor.

Beverly gave me great advice, as usual, and I started to feel like maybe I could make this two-cat household thing work; and then she said what everyone has been saying to me all along, "You just have to be patient."

Cats live on their own terms and work on their own timelines. They don't let anyone dictate how or when they will do something. Short of sheer force, i.e. picking them up and physically moving them, cats decide when they are ready to make a move.

Last night, as I lie in bed at two in the morning listening to my current cat Felix pitch what I can only describe as the world's biggest hissy fit, I realized that there was little I could do to stop the madness. All I can do is be patient; not my strong suit.

I like things to be done my way on my time; doesn't everyone? Not in a bossy or controlling way with others, but in a very regimented way for myself. I like things in my house to be neat and orderly; keys are always hung in the same place, dirty dishes are not permitted to linger in the sink and clothes cannot remain lying on the bureau for a week before finding their home.

There is a term for this type of behavior -- it's called OCD!

And then, one set-in-her-ways-40-something with OCD gets a cat; and then another! Suddenly everything I thought I knew about schedule and order went out the window!

In an odd and somewhat twisted way, this experience has been good for me. It's taught me a little bit about letting go and a hell of a lot about patience. I know I can't rush things along. I realize that I am no longer on my schedule, but on the schedule of two little furry monsters that I love so much.

I'm being put through an exercise in patience like none I've ever experienced. More daunting than waiting at the repair shop for your car; more futile than trying to coax a 2-year-old to go to bed; more exasperating than trying to muddle through a three-hour dinner with your in-laws!

Sitting back, letting go and allowing the story to unfold has taught me the power of patience. So cross your paws for me friends; it's going to be a long ride.