So I have this cat. “Prrrrrr” is something you’ll very rarely hear from her and she’s not very much into the human’s primary reason to have a cat – scratching the soft belly. Basically I don’t have her, she has me. She appears only when she concludes it is time to give her something else to eat besides all of the things she hunts for herself and our tender kitty moments are, to my great disappointment, reduced to rare moments of her slightly purring and coiling around my ankles, or seeing her occasionally sleep in the house with a hilarious purr-snort breathing. Even if you want to pet her she’ll duck. Yes, really, she’ll actually duck your hand, unless she feels like allowing in once in a fortnight or so.
This cat is the fiercest hunter I’ve ever seen and I cannot even imagine the intricacy of the anatomy that allows her to spring that fast, to wait so patiently perfectly still not blinking and to move in such an effective way. But this cat is also fearful. She fears everything from a Roomba zooming around, to thunder or sound of a car, loud conversation, people who are not family in or around the house… Everything. And that is why she is still alive and will most likely live to the ripe old age. She came to us with a baby sister who was not afraid of anything although it was born with a congenital flaw that she only had three legs. That didn’t slow her down. People felt sorry for my three-legged cat (aptly named something that would loosely translate as Footy), but the cat didn’t feel sorry for itself. The concept that there were even supposed to be 4 legs was something it didn’t understand and it was the happies, most lively and cuddly tiny cat ever. I loved that strange cat with my whole soul. But there was no fear and she is no longer here because cars are not the ones who should fear cats, but the other way around.
Fear is what keeps the remaining sister alive. Never getting to comfortable through belly rubs or allowing herself to be a fat, slow, pudgy domestic cat is a survival mechanism. Her fear is her greatest asset. In winter time she stays indoors – not because she likes it, but because she hates the wetness more than she hates being inside. She gets a bit fatter but as soon as the first inclination of spring is here she’s out the door and you don’t see her for 20 hours. She sheds her winter pounds in two days straight and goes back to her natural state of cautioned alertness. The muscles bustle and rise below the fur and she’s off.
I’ve thought about this cat so much, out of my own resentment and frustration that she’ll never be a lap cat I can fondle all day long. But she gave me something far greater than a cute belly to rub – a lesson. Fear is good. Fear has been put into creatures to stop them from doing stupid things, so stupid that they’d have to be payed in life currency. I’ve made my peace with her now. She’s awesome, she’s wise, she’s a teacher. A fierce warrior is not devoid of fear; it uses it to its advantage and doesn’t take unnecessary risks in order to stay alive for another hunt. Cats are awesome and fear is as well. Listen to your (reasonable) fear – it’s a guide and a protector.