I Wish I Could Be As Happy As My Cat
Finding Contentment in the Simple Things in Life
Every morning I am given a lesson in the appreciation of life by a ten-year-old cat named Polly. While, barely awake, I struggle to get to my feet and meander my way to the kitchen to activate the coffee pot, she is already prancing and purring announcing the beginning of a glorious new day.
Our morning routine begins with me grooming her very rich and luxurious coat, a process that transports her to the pitch of ecstasy. She elegantly rises on her two hind feet to rub against the brush that I deliberately hold aloft. Then she rolls over and exposes her underside for a quick stroke or two, before rising to her feet again for another upward thrust at the brush that I am holding. Finally she gives my ankle an affectionate butt that is more goat than kitten.
All too quickly the coffee pot finishes its cycle, signifying the end of our morning ritual. Now it is feeding time for Polly, coffee time for me.
Still bleary, I am amazed once again at the simplicity and authenticity of Polly's life compared to my own. She seems committed to making the most of all of her nine lives, while I struggle to figure out what to do with my one.
Polly has much reason to be happy. She appeared in the middle of winter at our farmhouse one morning and decided to stay around once I put food out for her. She easily trod upon the snow drifts like Peter walking on the water thanks to her snowshoe-sized polydactyl paws, each one with an extra toe, hence the name Polly. Soon she adopted us and became our cat and we became her persons. With the loss of my wife two years ago, it's now just the two of us.
I have no dearth of friends and acquaintances to spend time with, and I enjoy them all. But they all have baggage, concerns, issues, troubles and anxiety. I empathize and easily share them. But Polly has none. She is a low-maintenance acquaintance, a source of unconditional love and acceptance. Pets are that way.
I am reminded of the time when Jesus was encouraging the apostles to let the little children come to him to be blessed. I am sure that the kids also brought their pets, their cats and dogs and goats, and Jesus blessed them too. And I think he included the pets when he wagged his finger and told Peter and the rest, "Unless you become like these little ones there will be no room for you in my Father's house."
"For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat," writes the poet Christopher Smart of his cat Jeoffry. "For he knows that God is his Savior. For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest."
I can say the same of Polly. Her life is filled with peace and contentment. She has all she wants for her needs are simple: food, play, naps, and the affection of a jealous human who wishes he could emulate her spirit of enthusiasm and zest for the gift of each new day.
But Polly is a good teacher, and I am learning.