Cats. It’s like they are another species or something. They look at you with their furry little faces and their whiskers and their little triangle ears, and they purr and you sit on the sofa for hours so that they can sleep undisturbed on your lap. And then they steal chicken from the kitchen table, or they pee under the bed, or they start cat fights at 1:03AM precisely, every night for a week. But then they look at you, and the whiskers, and the triangle ears, and the purr…. (Although I have learnt the purr is sometimes about settling me into a false sense of security.)
My two cats have taken me on an interesting journey these last few months. We’ve managed to deal with Bonus Cat invading the territory (I have even managed to get rid of the smell downstairs – hooray!) and Little Cat seems to be over her adventure of getting lost for three days. But then Orange Cat has not been herself over the last few weeks. I took her to the vet, eventually. A thorough inspection involving much poking and prodding and trying to make the cat walk around and the vet couldn’t identify anything specific wrong. One painkilling injection later, I was told to take her home, “keep her indoors and make sure she poos”.
The vet must have seen the look on my face. “It’s very important you make sure she poos.”
Yeah. Cos I love dealing with poos and wees and such like. It’s bad enough when it’s your child, but the cat? (I had thought that Orange Cat was not actually doing the whole pee thing because she had not peed under the bed for three whole days and nights.) I mean, how do you even monitor that anyway? Especially when you have two cats? And they share the litter trays?
But we closed the cat flap, as instructed, and watched as Orange Cat bounded all around the house. I realised how much slower she had actually become. The painkiller injection did the trick. The cat was sorted (and she never had a problem with the whole poo thing, by the by). So we cancelled the follow up appointment, and opened the cat flap.
And then this morning, Orange Cat peed under my bed again.
Sometimes there is no way that you can get it right. Sometimes, you fix the problem, and all the thanks you get is pee under your bed. Maybe I only half fixed the problem, maybe Orange Cat is in pain again and wants another injection, even though she is walking around like she used to. But lying under the bed with my magic anti-cat-pee-smell spray, sniffing the carpet to ascertain exactly where the pee was, I realised that maybe I will never know why she does it. Maybe all I can do is make it so that she feels like she doesn’t have to do it.
Imagine if we could be like that with people? Imagine if instead of condemning them for their equivalent of peeing under the bed, we made them feel like they didn’t have to? If instead of assuming they were wrong, we assumed they were just trying to tell us something, the only way they knew how? If we did that, we might provide the support they need to be the best version of themselves, instead of trapping them in a never ending circle of unhelpful behaviour.