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Wednesday, November 10, 2010



I had not foreseen the turn my relationship with Caterpillar would take after Tapo went to be a cat on the streets of gold. At first it seemed like Caterpillar was glad Tapo was gone. It meant she had me all to herself. What she'd wanted all her life was now hers. That's to be taken as a real response, given she's not been educated in our culture about suppressing your real feelings to put on a pretend feeling that is expected. She's innocent of all that. I have no problem with her having an honest feeling. It seemed like the next couple days she was at a loss. She knew Tapo was gone, seeing me bury her. She seemed to be quiet and inward. I was too. Perhaps it was my own projection, but I don't think so. I was a little more objective watching her than that. I think. I've known her 13.5 years. And she's known me that long. She probably knows me better than I know her. Though there is that leap of consciousness between me and her that makes us two-leggeds as incomprehensible to the four-leggeds as they are to us. Though the deer know the first day of deer season and vanish. They know us very well. What they know is: If one of the humans sees you, you're dead.

Some years ago talking with someone I slightly knew with a cat and the belief the cat was the same as unconscious, that is, couldn't learn, I told him my cats understand a limited vocabulary that I repeat to them. Like when Caterpillar walks over here to the chair and tugs at my pant leg with one claw, just a tug to get my attention, I say, Do you want out? And she walks in front of me to the door. She may not know the dictionary meaning of each of those words. She may not even know it's 4 separate words. It's one short musical phrase, one of several, that is known more for the sounds of the phrases or words, the same as we are. One time she had Tapo cornered, Tapo with her head sideways to the floor, her ears back, her fangs looking like a rattlesnake, eyes too, growling and hissing at Caterpillar threatening to swat her. I step in when their catness gets to be too much. I said, "Caterpillar, that's enough." She stopped. Her feet started moving very slowly backwards, keeping her eyes on Tapo's eyes to be ready in case Tapo might attack, backing up until she felt it was safe to turn around and walk away without getting jumped.

I didn't have to raise my voice. It's a phrase I've never used more than a time or two, so she wasn't familiar with the particular sounds, but she read the tone of voice. More accurately, she read my meaning. I've come to suspect they understand a whole lot more than we notice. TarBaby and I had near perfect communication. He was right there with me where comprehension was concerned. I never communicated with Caterpillar much. She kept herself in the background, deferring to TarBaby and Tapo where my attention was concerned. I gave her attention every day and she didn't seem to need or want any more than that. After her couple days of what I took to be mourning Tapo, allowing that she wouldn't only have one feeling about Tapos absence, on about the 5th day she appeared to have a sparkle in her eyes that said, It's just us! Nobody else! Just us! Her eyes were happy and her entire countenance was happy.

I say seemed at about every interpretation of her thoughts and feelings, because seemed is as close as I can get. It comes from knowing her a long time, our psyches actually blended such that her behavior is in relation to mine. I know they have thoughts, because I've seen them make decisions. We communicate in our feelings the best. And eyes. I believe it's possible to be telepathic with them, but I don't have it. Except it would drive the cat crazy having a direct line into my mind. Hail far! it makes me crazy. Cats understand an awful lot. Dogs do too. One of the aspects of American Indian cultures I admire is their understanding and reverence for the other critters, not holding themselves up as superior, just a fellow traveler on this earth.

Caterpillar and I have a new relationship that happened all of a sudden. It's just us now. She seems very happy to be one on one with the giant, who mothered her into life from 2 weeks old. I've found a new Caterpillar to know, another level of knowing Caterpillar. I'm knowing her now like I knew TarBaby, mind to mind. We pay attention to each other so there isn't much that needs to be said. We don't need to talk. Body language, tone of voice, repeated familiar phrases, eye contact. Paying closer attention is what we're doing now. It feels like her loss of Tapo and TarBaby is shared with my loss of them, our bond. I'm getting to know Caterpillar like I've not known her before. Again, it's the mind to mind connection. She had that with the other cats. Now she can't have it with them any more, so she has it with me. We're in the process of learning each other. It's almost like I brought home a new cat.


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