In an earlier post, I presented a list I compiled of 50 things that make me feel good. In a moment lacking inspiration, with over thirty minutes of my daily writing time still to fill, I needed something to go on—I found a middle school prompt that I initially thought would take mere minutes, but required the rest of my writing time for the day to complete. To expand on this writing project, I began an effort to discuss each of the 50 entries, and this post is a result of that project. Read the list at the original post, here.
Entry number seven revolves around cats, which is not much of a surprise to those who know me in real life, and from this point on, will not be a surprise to long-distance readers alike. I love cats. It’s a bit of cliché, I suppose, being an introvert/writer type. It’s much better to be a mad writer that stays home with her cats and her Mac than a writer that runs wild into the street to die in the gutter after too much alcohol, right?
I’m glad we can at least agree upon that small detail.
I’ve been loving cats long time. From my childhood cat, Princess—who lived a whopping seventeen years and survived Texas tarantulas, Virginia ice storms, and Florida hurricanes—to the four cats I have now, my heart has been in the feline fold for twenty-eight years. Let’s meet the inmates of the asylum, shall we?
Tubbs Simba Garfield Bamf-Hamf Wiles
Domestic Short Hair, Orange Tabby
Criminal Toe Biter
Lover of Red Mouse Toys
Master of the “Cling-On” Caught in His Fluffy Britches
Cyrus “Recovery” Wiles
Domestic Short Hair, Black and White Tuxedo
Criminal Cat Nip Addict
Lover of a Running Dryer
Master of Intimidation to Cats and Humans Alike
Sylvia Plath Wiles
Domestic Short Hair, Blue Tabby
Criminal Furniture Scratcher
Lover of Butt Rubs
Master of Lying on Her Back Being Adorable
Sir Floppenstein Wiles
Domestic Short Hair, Gray and White
Criminal Keyboard Assailant, Ex-Street Walker
Lover of Glider Chairs
Master of Inquisitive Glances
While only one of my current cats has a purr-level of “expert,” there have been past feline contenders. The late Pyper Olivia Wiles, a stray we picked up and brought home only to find she was heartworm positive (which took her from us two years later), had the best purr I’ve heard in one of my own cats in my entire 28 years. Now that purr made me feel good. It was calming despite the fact it reverberated with the same strength of sound you’d expect a chainsaw to have. There was another great purr. Before being adopted out, there was a long-time house cat living at the cat clinic I work at (yes, I work at a cat clinic, see how the crazy cat lady elements are all starting to come together?) named Micho. He is still alive, purring away in a wonderful home worthy of his purring abilities. When he lived at the clinic, nothing made me happier than taking him up on my shoulder, petting his head, and listening to him purr loudly in my ear. He was never much to look at (looked more like a monkey than a cat), but man, he was an expert-level purr-er for sure.
Cyrus is the only current cat I have that ranks “expert.” Generally, when she is making biscuits (kneading) while sitting on my lap or perched on my chest at night, she is the loudest. Her purr has to get pretty loud to be the amazing, calming force that it has the potential to be. Some cats have that silent and deadly type of purr, but not Cyrus. She has to be rocking to be rocking, if you get my drift. Her purr can make me feel good on the worst of days.
I’m far from the only person who appreciates a cat’s purr. It makes me feel good, yes, but cats across the world are purring while keeping other people happy as well. Consider this opening from Vijaya Bodach’s abstract in Odyssey:
“The sound of a cat purring has all kinds of positive effects on us. Purr…purr…purr…. We have wondered about that soft and soothing sound since cats became our companions more than 5,000 years ago. Why do felines purr? You’re right if you think that cats purr because they are happy and content. Cats choose to purr, just like you choose to laugh. Purring is part of a cat’s communication. It signals a friendly social mood.”
To be open and fair, the study also includes discussion of cat’s tendency to purr when dying or sick, but the cat purr appearing on my list of “50 Things That Make Me Feel Good” has far more to do with how I feel than it has to do with how the cat feels. I don’t want my cats unhealthy, of course, but that’s just not the point right now.
The part that grabs my attention is the choice of it—“cats choose to purr.” Cats choose to do something that makes me feel good. This means my cats are, in essence, choosing to make me feel good, whether they want to or not. Something about all this just makes the little, cutsie, cat-lover living inside me all warm and fuzzy. It might not make me look cool or intellectual, but it sure makes me happy.
You’d be warm, fuzzy, and happy too—if you lived with Tubbs, Cyrus, Sylvia, and Floppy.