Cats, humor

Learning to Love the Common Cat

It’s true that The Beggar’s Bakery is a blog heavy on the substance abuse recovery material. That’s my passion. But through the ages (the nearly three years I’ve been blogging) I like to mix things up a little on occasion. I am also a “recovering” cat hater. Truly.

Recovery is my passion, but it’s not my ONLY passion. There is also my family, and the kitty cats – animals of all kinds, really – and chocolate, and music, and clothes with elastic waistbands.

Here is one from a blog I maintained for, um….about two posts. But I’m re-posting it because sometimes you just need to write a little, er….FLUFF to go along with the heavier issues.

What’s fluffier than kitties?

This is Catsby, the first cat I've ever heard that is truly mine, a Mama's Boy through-and-through.
This is Catsby, the first cat I’ve ever had that is truly mine (Bob claims him, too, but he is a  Mama’s Boy through-and-through!)
I used to have a funny little blog about cat appreciation, but from the perspective of a person who grew up as a life-long cat hater. (Please, no hate mail! Remember that this blog is satire – or dare I say, “catire?”  – and all in fun!)
Yes…
My name is Jana and I am a recovering Cat Hater. I come from a long line of cat-haters, and honestly, cat hating was all I knew growing up.
As a matter of fact, many in my family would equate penning this blog with signing my own commitment papers. But if there is anything being in my forties has taught me, it is this: We all own some degree of crazy. Own your crazy, without apology.
Really. “Normal” is just a setting on the clothes dryer.
And my love for cats?
I blame My Beloved  husband. He started it.
 Into our blended marriage, he brought one daughter and two cats, and I brought two daughters and The Best Dog Ever. Talk about life in the blender!  I had never been in the same room with a cat, so limited was my experience with them.
All of my life, I’ve had dogs, and I adore them. I’ve always  identified as a Dog Person. I think I will always identify as a Dog Person. I lost my Emmie, my Best Dog Ever, over a year ago. I cannot bring myself to get another. Until I’m ready, there are the kitties.
What I’ve found over the past eight years is that I don’t have to choose to be “either/or.” I can be an animal-lover, and appreciate all of God’s creatures for what they are. It is kind of long story, how this change came about – and it taught me a lot about myself, a lot about tolerance and acceptance.
Mostly, it taught me never to hate a cat for not being a dog, which as it turned out, was my main complaint about them B.C. (before cats.)
I strongly encourage others to expand their animal  “rePEToire.”
Of course, one does not become a Cat Person overnight. Thrust into cat ownership, I went through all of the stages of acceptance:
Denial: “I will just ignore the cats!” and  “The dog and cats will learn to get along.”
Anger: “Is there any surface in this entire house that is NOT covered in cat fur?”  “Go to sleep, kitties!”
Bargaining: “Please, PLEASE sleep at night. Please, I beg of you – SLEEP!”
Depression “This darn cat won’t get out of my pillow….. Hairballs are the most disgusting thing ever….Wet cat food smells like stink and I will never get used to it.  And the cats will never sleep through the night.   NEVERRRRRRR!”
Acceptance: “But I guess the kitties are kind of CUTE, and warm. And I love that purr thing.  And the pouncing … that is adorable.
They DO have so much personality……Yes, the cat hair is everywhere; I will just keep a lint-roller in my car for the fur. And maybe I will learn  to sleep through all of the zooming about at 4 a.m. A cat cannot change its stripes, so to speak. I suppose I must accept them.”
Once cats get under your skin and into your heart, there is NO stopping it. You will make runs to PetSmart for a certain kind of toy mouse. You will find batting at feathers adorable. You will answer your cat’s meows with “Tell me all about it!” You will think internet memes of cats captioned with funny text are the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. You will resign yourself to the fact that you have ‘dropped your basket’ and it is full of kitty cats.
I’ve done a 180, as they say, and I’m grateful for my allergy to the purry ones (as it forces me to a strict limit of two, okay maybe three….and no more.) Catsby greets me at the door every day and mews to be picked up and carried around on my shoulder, and sits on the edge of the bathtub to play in the water. He is kind of a doggish cat, and I love that. I love that he is co-dependent.
Hey, recovery is a process, right? Own your crazy, without apology.
Here’s looking at mew, kid.
Dogs, Holy

The Holiness of Old Dogs

By:  Jana Greene

There is something holy about old dogs.  I can’t quote scripture to prove it, but I can see the sacredness in the eyes of my old dog, Emmie.  And I know God sees it in her too, that He placed it there.

I’m finding that God often places the holy and pure things where we least expect them.  I know that He uses my dog to make me a better person, to teach me things.

Emmie has been a good and faithful friend to me for more than fourteen years.  A Golden Retriever (with a bit of Chow-Chow) she never knew the first thing about retrieving. But being kind and loving, joyful and true?  She knows everything about that.

When I call to her, she comes to me – even though she is old and creaky probably has a million good doggie reasons why she would rather not.  She might be on her soft bed, having the dream in which she is jumping the chain-link fence like she used to.  Or a dream in which she finally catches that tormenting cat.  But, she always comes to me when I call, tail in full-wag….. counting it all joy.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” – James 1:2

She enjoys her life, with little concern for the future.  Although it’s not easy for her to get into the back seat these days, she loves car rides.  Groaning a little as I help her hoist her achy haunches up, she seems to say, Mom, roll down the window already!  We might be going to the park, or to the vet’s office; she knows either one is a possibility.  No matter!  On the road she  is just a smiling doggie in my rearview mirror, her coat an explosion of golden fur in the wind, her slobber forming a snail-like trail down the side of my car, anxious for nothing.  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” –   Matthew 6:25 -27 (NIV)

Emmie is an expert on affection, both the giving and receiving of.  She hasn’t yet learned that she doesn’t need to sit on top of me to be with me.  She simply cannot get close enough, even when I am trying to get things done.  Her tail wagging furiously, she is conveying that she loves me too much to contain it in a lady-like, reserved manner.  It reminds me of times that I raise my hands at church during worship, unfettered by rules, overcome with gratitude…when I just cannot get close enough, love/grace/gratitude bubbling over.   “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:12 (NIV)

But the holiest attribute that Emmie displays might also be the most subtle.  It is the way she humbly seeks my face.  When offered a treat, her gaze is not on my hand (or the delicious bone I’m holding) … No, she is staring at the acceptance in my expression, her big, chocolate drop eyes searching to read my face.  Interestingly, the Bible reminds us to seek the face of God, not his hand and what he can offer us in the way of treats.  “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” – 1 Chron. 16:11

My sweet Emmie may not know about retrieving.  But she knows all about love, unconditionally.

Over the years….

In times of sorrow, I have buried my face in her uber-floofy coat and cried buckets of tears, and she didn’t seem to mind.  She lay perfectly still, only moving to lick my face.  Always compassionate.

In times of great joy, she has skipped circles around me, pouncing up and down as if she had a single clue as to what the celebration was all about.  Joyous oblivion.

In times of sickness or pain, she is my shadow, following me to the kitchen, the mailbox, even to the bathroom.  Endlessly loyal.

Yesterday, I bent down to kiss the top of her cone-y head like I have hundreds of times before.   I held her face up in my hands and looked into her eyes.  Heart melting, a feeling came over me of sweet reverence.  It took my breath away a little.  I’ve felt just this way before……

Where have I felt this feeling before?

And then I remembered:  standing in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.  I, as a tourist from North Carolina, standing in the sanctuary of the church, having never seen so regal a place, in the presence of magnificence….. awed and humbled.  How odd that the countenance of a loving, loyal animal would remind me of such a holy place.  The same sensation of being close to what His hand had fashioned flooded me in this realization:  Where God’s glory is manifest in the great majesty of  architecture and art, it is also manifest in the eyes of an old dog.

Holy and sacred – right where God placed it.