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The Tao of Doodle

by Melinda Nowikowski, Dayton, OH, USA


Most cats we have renew our faith in the relationship between felines and humans. They aren't loyal like dogs are loyal, but anybody who's used to being around cats knows when they're happy and healthy. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. We put up with their quirks for the very reasons people who hate cats hate them -- they're independent, unpredictable and slightly foreign to our human way of thinking. For some people that's an affront. For cat people, it's a challenge and an absolute pleasure.

Punk is our little tortie rescue from last fall. Mystery of mystires, someone had dumped her somewhere near my mother's house, and she'd taken up residence under Mom's back shed, eating off her compost heap and begging at the door for several days before we brought her home with us. Side note -- for a tortie, if they're supposed to be nutty, she's relatively sane (if a little uncoordinated). Read on -- she seems to know exactly what her life is about.

Punk's name has slowly changed, since we brought her home in November of '99. Now, most of the time, we call her Doodle. Our American Heritage dictionary's final definition for the word 'doodle' is "to trifle, fritter away time." Other parts of the definition are more concrete -- condensed, they mean to draw aimlessly while thinking of something else. Cats don't pick up a pencil and draw, but if Doodle could, I'm guessing she would. She's like a five-year-old with a set of finger paints and a roll of butcher paper. Her entire life consists of lovely little moments that accomplish little but, well, doodling, but make her -- and us -- happy.

Doodle's three favorite pastimes, presumably in descending order depending on the amount of trouble she goes to in order to make them happen, are these:

  1. playing with any given feather toy with the humans;
  2. being petted by one of the humans while she eats kibble from her bowl on the island in the kitchen; and
  3. having the female human follow her from the front window (where the squirrels are) to the coffee table in the front room, where she likes to rub her butt repeatedly and cry ecstatically, to the window in the spare bedroom, and sometimes to the bedroom window over the dressers in the master bedroom, where her only view is of the garage roof and the sky and treetops in our suburban neighborhood. Lather, rinse and repeat, it's all the same to Doodle.

Full grown, she's still not much more than a handful -- eight pounds last time she went for her yearly visit to the stinky place with the linoleum floors where they stick something cold up her rear end -- and by now, she's certainly over a year old, though we'll never really be sure how much. Other than times she's being looked at by the v*t or medicated, she's one of the happiest little beasts with whom I've ever had the pleasure of sharing a home. As soon as either of us touches her, as long as we're not holding her down, she's purring. She's happy all the time.

I could learn a lot from this cat. Food, play, windows and the old comforter on the floor in the family room, where we spend most of our time, are about all she cares for. When I'm following her from window to table to window, I don't think about anything else either. For all she's been the one we've had to take to the vet most often since we brought her home, she's been the most rewarding. Gord may be a lap fungus, and Tink may be beautiful, but Doodle is something special. I've never been more relieved I didn't talk myself out of something in my entire life.

But, then, there are those of you out there who have said it over and over. You don't find cats. Cats find you.


Editor's note:

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