Auntie Fatcat's

Sit down, have a cookie, and chat for a spell.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Shakti is a Good Girl


Most people who have spent more than five minutes with me know that Rick and I have two sixteen-year-old cats, Morgana and Shakti. With children, the rules of parenting state that you're not supposed to admit to having a favorite, but since the cats aren't likely to read this, I can tell you that I have always loved Morgana just a wee bit more.

Most cat-tolerant visitors agree that Morgana is easy to love. She's adorable to look at: dainty build, delicate face, fluffy ruff and tail, black-and-auburn tortie markings, and tiny black paws. She's generally well behaved: always uses the litter box, grooms herself nigh-obsessively, won't scratch or bite unprovoked. But mostly people love her because she's a people cat. She welcomes adult human company, likes to keep tabs on what everyone's doing, and often charms guests into letting her do things she's not supposed to. Though she's not as fond of children because they're noisy, she tolerates a great deal from them and has even been known to voluntarily sit on my delighted three-year-old nephew's lap. She "talks" frequently with a wide vocabulary of songlike miaows that cajole, admonish, praise, announce, and exult quite clearly. And the lavishness with which she bestows affection on her chosen ones certainly gratifies the ego.

Shakti, on the other hand, is an acquired taste. The gray tabby fur on her back sticks up in little tufts and bunches because she's too fat to reach anything but her chest and stomach when she decides to clean herself--and she pitches a hissy fit every single morning when I try to brush her. Somewhere along the line she decided that the appropriate potty material is carpet, so we live in a house with all hardwood and tile floors and blanket the litter box area with a set of special "pee rugs" that have to be laundered every couple of days. Her voice sounds like she's had a pack-a-day cigarette habit for forty years. And when it comes down to it, the only people she's really nice to are Rick and my brother, who fed her chicken mole exactly once during a visit five years ago and somehow won a permanent spot in her cranky little heart. When she's in a good mood or wants attention, she's willing to settle for me (the source of food) or Auntie Linda (who feeds her when we're away). But she prefers to avoid pretty much everyone else, and those who attempt to force themselves on her usually come away in need of Bactine and possibly stitches.

In short, if Morgana were a person, she'd be a society matron wearing a vintage Chanel suit and red lipstick to host a charity luncheon. Shakti would be a tough old broad wearing stretch pants and a food-stained blouse to yell at the neighbor kids to get out of her yard.

Morgana is easy to love because she embodies all the things society tells us make a woman lovable: beauty, proper behavior, friendliness, expressiveness, and sweetness. Shakti takes more patience because she acts more like a real person--like me. I'm fat too, and my hair tends to stick up no matter how much I fuss with it. I don't pee on the rug, but my frequent need to find a bathroom combined with my pickiness about bathroom quality can be socially awkward. I get cranky often enough, particularly around people I don't like. And the list of people I like is not all that long.

Morgana is still my favorite--I can't help it--but I'm now aware that the difference in my affections doesn't reflect how I feel about Shakti so much as it reflects how I feel about myself. Now that I'm paying attention, I can see that Shakti also shares many of my good qualities: intelligence, persistence, perceptiveness, and the ability to devise creative entertainments for herself, among others. So every morning when I sit up and Shakti jumps on the bed to demand attention, I make sure to pet her in the special rough way she likes so she knows I think she's a good girl too. And I keep on petting her until I love myself for real.

2 Comments:

Blogger Linda M.R. Yaw said...

I really like this one. It made me smile and also appreciate how perceptive you can be.

Linda

7:59 PM  
Blogger Kathy Ice said...

"In short, if Morgana were a person, she'd be a society matron wearing a vintage Chanel suit and red lipstick to host a charity luncheon. Shakti would be a tough old broad wearing stretch pants and a food-stained blouse to yell at the neighbor kids to get out of her yard."

Beverly, that belongs in the Metaphor Hall of Fame. :)

3:14 PM  

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