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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CATERPILLAR THE CAT

caterpillar
 
Here is my friend Caterpillar. She is a Maine Coon, though not pure bred. If she were to have kittens, probably only one would be a Maine Coon. She doesn't like me pointing a camera at her. She has never liked it. I can get one or two pictures of her face if I hurry, then she turns away. It's hard to get a good picture of her eyes the way I see them without the camera. The light goes out of her eyes when she sees the camera eye looking at her. In her younger years when she hunted, she would go into the woods across the road, lie down and be still, looking like a gray rock among the leaves on the ground. She would lie down out in the open, visible to everything passing through, a gray rock. A mouse hops along and cat has a snack. Her character is Maine Coon clone. Her behavior is genetically dictated. The cats of everyone I know with Maine Coon body and fur are natured just like Caterpillar. When I see one, I know exactly what not to do. They don't like a great deal of being fussed over. Petting one, it will let you know with a barely audible sound in the throat that is kind of the beginning of a growl, or a squeak, the beginning of a meow. That means stop it. If you don't, next step is fangs embedded in your hand. Caterpillar has never bit me. In the time she was training me to stop when she tells me to, she'd swing her head around and touch the tips of her teeth to my hand, just barely. Her way of saying: I bite you. She doesn't bite me because I've never hit or even scolded her. I've only touched her and spoken to her lovingly. My hands are her friends. With cats, you get what you give.
 
caterpillar
 
This is about as good as I can get her eyes. First picture. After this one, she turns her head. Her eyes are much more clear than seen here. The pic was taken in dim light, so it's grainy, makes the eyes look fuzzy when they're bright and clear. I love the white patterns around her eyes, the reverse of tv football players painting black lines under their eyes. You see a cat's eyes. I see my baby Caterpillar. Who she is shows so clearly in her eyes that I see my friend most in her eyes. Often, when I pick her up and look at her eyeball-to-eyeball, I notice every time how beautiful they are and tell her she has beautiful eyes. Her personality is quiet, gentle (with humans), unto herself, not gregarious. She shows her affection by stopping in front of me, asking me to pick her up. She likes me to hold her up to my eye level and talk to her. She likes to look around at her familiar room from the perspective of eyes way up in the air, like seeing her world from a tower. I suppose for her, looking down at everything she looks up at must be the same kind of thrill I get in a plane seeing the clouds from above. There is nothing like flying through a canyon of boiling cumulous clouds and looking down at the upper side of another plane full of people, a tiny matchbox toy in the distance, flying through the canyon at another level. I see in my mind's eye what is happening in the plane is the same as what's happening in my plane; stewardesses in the aisles, drinks for first class, sodas for everybody else. Outside on the ground, seeing a plane fly over, lines from Paul Simon's album, Rhythm Of The Saints, play in my mind, the song, Further To Fly: There may come a time / When I will lose you / Lose you as I lose my sight / Days falling backward into velvet night. The rhythm in the song feels like flying.
 
 
caterpillar after cleaning her face
 
The painting above, hangs on the wall behind where I sit. It's a poor representation in dim light at 2 in the afternoon and it snowing outside. Two days ago I was sitting here at the desk, Caterpillar rose from her bed to go to the kitchen for water. On the way back, she stopped, looked up to me and said, "Mao." I said, "Mao?" She said, "Mao." Cat for I want. I didn't get the telepathic image she was sending me, so I ask her to show me what she wants. She walks to the food bowl if she wants fresh food. She walks to the door if she wants out. When she stands still a few feet in front of me, she wants to be held. I take a break from mind and pick her up. I don't know that I've ever held her for an extended time standing where the chair is. Her head was above my shoulder and I noticed her looking at the picture behind me on the wall like it was her first chance to see it up close. She was looking at the lower right corner where a cluster of seven pine trees stand beside a stone bridge. On the bridge a donkey carries a man in the dress of old China, and a man walking the other direction with a stick on his shoulder. I think of the painting as Lao Tzu crossing the bridge on his donkey leaving our world, entering the world beyond our world where he could live the rest of his life in the presence of the Divine. I think of him like King Samuel in the Old Testament, who left the throne to live in the desert so far from our world no camel could survive the trek. Caterpillar looked as closely at the scene in the corner of the painting as a child might.
 
caterpillar avoids the camera's eye
 
I suspect most that she was looking at the trees, rhododendron behind them, rocks in front of them, and maybe the little figures on the road. She would be more interested in looking at trees. She grew up spending a lot of time hunting in the woods across the road. I've noticed when I'm watching a movie, if a scene involves moving along a path in the woods, she will watch with fascination until the scene changes. Her eyes were searching the corner lush with rhododendron, big rocks and pine trees shaped as they appear in her world. I question unto doubt the "people" caught her eye except as wondering if they might be bugs. She had awe in her eyes. The artist was YT Mui, who, I believe lived in Singapore. After Caterpillar's brief examination she was satisfied she'd seen it. Never looked at it again. She has never shown an interest in people. I've not encouraged my cats to be familiar with other people, because people going to see the waterfalls park the other side of the road around my mailbox. I don't want somebody finding a friendly cat in what to them is the wilderness. I can hear it: Nobody lives in that house. Poor baby. Mommy, it's such a friendly cat, can I have it? And when I get home from the grocery store, no cat. That was not going to happen. When somebody comes to the door, the cats hurry to their hiding places. After a period of time, one would walk by on the way for a drink of water, not seeing anything unusual, and stop on the way back, tail up. I'd introduce them and she'd let whoever it might be touch her. It would not be long before her curiosity was satisfied and she'd return to her secret comfort corner. Then the next one would pass through for a drink of water and repeat the cat performance.    
 
caterpillar yawns
 
 
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