by tj worthington 1998
I have fallen in love with Caterpillar all over again. She showed me herself in such a way I was impressed beyond anything I knew she had in her. Took her to have her back and belly shaved. Her fur is so long and thick it knots readily. I've kept at it with scissors and a comb, but it got beyond scissors. I bought some electric shears and they could only cut through very little of it. I told her we had an appointment to have the mess removed from her back and belly. I was afraid to work scissors or shears on her belly, the skin so soft, and sensitive. I wanted to help her, not hurt her. The day before, I told her the next day we'd remove her mess. Time to go, no Caterpillar. I called. She always comes to me when I call. No Caterpillar. I searched and couldn't find her. Eventually, she came walking up the path from the car. She has a spot in some tall grass near where I park that makes a good bed for her with plenty of sunlight. I don't know why she wants to be so close to the road, just a couple feet, with cars whizzing by. This is a new spot for her, so I wasn't aware of it to look there.
caterpillar would rather be at home
She's not one to feel urgency about time. I see her in my mind's eye hearing me call and thinking about it. She steps up to the food bowl and stares at it for half a minute or so, like she's assessing whether or not she's really hungry. It is the same with the water bowl. She stands and looks at it awhile before she takes a drink. She goes to the door, which is always open for her to come and go, stands and looks for awhile, then steps out. In winter when I open the door to let her out, I hold it open and let her think about it. It's her nature. She's always done that. She was lying there, comfortable, listening to me call her name. I speak her name while holding her, have a little song I sing to her around her name. I gave each of the kittens a song around their names, sang it to them since they were kittens. In their grown years, the song relaxed every one of them to purring. Even today, eighteen years old, singing Caterpillar's song to her relaxes her way down and she's purring right away. Her song goes,
Caterpillar, pretty baby,
pretty baby, Caterpillar.
I repeat it over and over. It takes her home right now.
caterpillar relaxed getting shaved
Caterpillar affirmed my way of raising her, gentleness. I've never hit her, never raised my voice at her, never swept her off a piece of furniture in anger. I allow her to make her own decisions, except when it's time to be stuffed into the cat carrier to go to the vet. As usual, she cried all the way in the car. Mao, Mao, Mao. It gets severely tiresome, so I sang along with her, Mao, Mao, Mao. We had a duet going. She became conscious right away of us saying Mao together. It seemed to take her mind off the crying. It was like braying with Jack. I can now set him to braying by letting out my version of a bray, Oooohhh. This morning at carrot time, I started the bray from inside the house. Jack heard it and was braying full bray before I went out the door. I've started braying to him from inside the house at carrot and grain time, and he's ready. As soon as he hears it, he starts. Making Caterpillar's crying into a song took the edge off it for me and relaxed Caterpillar. I never take charge of her physically against her will, except going in and out of the carrier.
I took her to the groomer at Twin Oaks Vet. Walked in the door and saw a table with a couple of rubber nooses hanging from a bar for holding cats that don't want their bodies manipulated. I thought: Nobody is going to put one of them on my baby. I already knew she would not need it. My hands on her keep her calm, assured she is safe. Hands have never hurt her. They have only touched her in loving, nourishing ways, held her. The procedure took two full hours. I wanted to be the one holding her, didn't want somebody holding her by the back of the neck, afraid of her, stretching her face so tight her eyes look like she had three too many facelifts. I will not put my baby through a torture chamber with somebody she does not know forcing her against her will. I never once had to hold Caterpillar down. Several times I'd lift my hands from her and she never moved. I used my hands to comfort, not to control. A few times she looked like she was taking a nap. The second hour she was a little tired of it, but her patience held, with some low growling and one good hiss. I was so impressed with Caterpillar, I didn't know what to make of it. I was impressed with Tammy clipping her, too. She handled my baby with the grace and gentleness of her own baby. Caterpillar came home a happy cat. She peed on the pillow in the carrier on the way home, only because she couldn't hold it any longer.
caterpillar happy cat