Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me—Number 11: Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

Portrait of a Cat

My last lesson was all about freedom and love. And so, I suppose, is this one.

This is how it usually goes. Loki comes in from his day outdoors between 9 and 10 at night. I give him his yummy wet food for dinner. We go upstairs. I brush my teeth, he drinks from the tap. I finish evening ablutions, he goes and inspects my study. I stretch out on my bed to watch Netflix or read.

And usually—MOST OF THE TIME—after 5 or ten minutes, Loki will hop up on the bed with me, curl up half on my shin or my ankle, and stay there ’til I turn the light out. Sometimes, though, he doesn’t show up. Or, if he does, he goes and makes himself comfortable on the bench by the window. I have no idea why.

Probably he just wants some quiet time to himself inside. Or I don’t smell right. Or it’s too hot.

Who knows?

All I know is that my proximity is not *always* desirable. Sometimes he just wants to be alone. There’s absolutely no use fretting about it or trying to cajole him otherwise. He’ll do what he wants to do, and all the calling and sweet-talking in the world won’t get him to hang out with me if he’s not feeling like it.

And in the end, once I truly grasped this about him, it was a relief. Loki does what he wants. MOSTLY he wants to be near me. And it’s the very rare night when he doesn’t *eventually* come snuggle up to my side when the lights are out and I am nearly or fully asleep. (I do worry a bit if he doesn’t… sometimes it’s a sign he’s not feeling well.) The key thing is: it’s not about me. It’s about that cat. It’s about how Loki feels and what Loki wants, and ultimately that has very little to do what I do or don’t do at any particular moment.

He has moods. Go figure. Don’t we all? (After all, I don’t exactly love it when he wants to suckle my neck and knead my scalp with his little scimitars at 5 in the morning.) Learning how to let my cat be himself has been useful to me in realizing how important it is to let other people be themselves: feel what they feel, want what they want.

And to know that, most of the time it’s not at all about me. Even (especially?) when I love them and they love me.

A Year Ago: Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me: Number 6—Purr

Cat nestled into extended legs.There are many things one can say in praise of cats: they are elegant, fearsome, independent, athletic…
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