In a Cat’s Eye

Finnegan is my cat. He used to be part of a furniture-scratching duo, Olympic level. I’m sure you can guess the name of his partner if you put some thought to it. Casey. Casey and Finnegan were brothers, two tiny malnourished abandoned orange kittens who found sanctuary in my house. It wasn’t long before they had perfected the destroy-everything-in-sight approach in response to my welcoming generosity.
Casey’s life came to an unfortunate end a few years ago and no number of his nine lives would have helped. Finnegan took his loss in stride, not being one to mope or focus on life’s heartaches. Cats are dedicated advocates of living in the moment. Often, when Gracie and I go for a stroll we come upon Simon, a large white cat, who thinks lying in the middle of the road is the best possible spot for an afternoon rest. I’ve tried discussing this with Simon, pointing out the inherent risks with his slumber selection, but he seems disinterested in my opinion, perhaps even slightly bored with my perspective and so he continues to lie in the gravel, smack dab in harm’s way, his body molding around the stones as if he were made of liquid, and Gracie and I fade away from his field of vision, taking with us our warning. I can almost hear Simon hollering at my retreating back, in between yawns and self-grooming. “You’re such a drama queen.”
I love Finnegan. I do. While I am gathering up orange hair that clings for dear life to everything I own, I chant about my Finnegan affection, a mantra to keep hold of my sanity, even if my grip is seriously threatened some days, most days actually. Finnegan sleeps all day and terrorizes the house all night. Gracie has been known to lie on Finnegan, all ninety-five pounds of her, to quiet Finnegan’s nocturnal antics, but it doesn’t seem to help. Finnegan likes to share Gracie’s bed despite never having received an invitation to do so. Gracie merely forfeits her big brown pillow and opts for the door mat while Finnegan stretches out unencumbered upon Gracie’s thick comfy bed, despite the fact that Finnegan has his own bed, the perfect size for a feline of his stature.
When Finnegan needs his fix of affection, he climbs on to my chest while I am reading and stares at me while stroking my face with his paw, the same paw that digs vigorously in the bin of kitty litter, digs as if he is on a mission to find gold or the centre of the earth, I can’t be sure which. Finnegan knows when I have washed the inside of my windows and he likes to celebrate my efforts by rubbing his body up against every inch of glass within his reach. I’m so grateful for his recognition of my efforts toward cleanliness, so very grateful that some days I’d like to share his thoughtfulness with others, with anyone really, anyone willing to give him a home. We could call it respite.
I’m not really a cat person. I had a favourite cat growing up – Muff. She was soft and grey with a white nose and white paws. I have a photo of Muff and me when I was about four or five, taken just before she went on extended holiday and never returned. Perhaps that is why I am not a cat person – I gave Muff every ounce of feline fondness I had, and the reserves were emptied.
You may remember Fred Penner singing about the cat came back the very next day. It should have been a warning to me before I opened my door to the orange mischief makers, but for now I will be grateful that Finnegan loves me and I will pretend the orange hair on everything doesn’t bother me one bit, or the torn screens, or the shredded sofa, or …