The loveable homeless cat…

 

For the last 2 months, our family has been adopted by a beautiful, white stray cat. It has unilaterally decided that we belong to her, and no amount of reasoning and dissuading has been acceptable. With a commendable single minded determination, it has made itself comfortable outside on our varandah on a couch, surrounded by cushions and blankets that had been accidentally left out over the winter. Every time we open the backdoor or the front door she darts in unseen, runs between our legs, and is upstairs in under 5 seconds, in the childrens room where she hides under the bed, from where she has to be pulled out (not coaxed). This is like a game for her.

Now I have nothing against cats, but I don’t have the emotional capacity to add another baby to my family. So when she runs inside the house, I will chase it around and lift it in my arms, pet it, murmur sweet nothings in its ear, and then leave her outside in the backyard. It then goes around the house and mews at the front door – heart rendering cries that make my heart melt. Sometimes, when I am in the kitchen, she will mew at the laundry door that opens into the garage. During night, it stands outside my window and mews for hours together, hoping to and successful in inducing horrific amount of guilt. All my intrapsychic infrastructures are brimming with guilt !!!!

I know I am a softie, and get moved easily. I take on responsibilities that later are difficult to fulfil, that they often end up harming me. So I keep a stern face, manage a strong composure, and I let her be, telling myself “it is not my responsibility!” But even I don’tbelieve in that myth !!!  Dinnertimes are especially tough, it climbs onto the window and looks in with forlorn eyes, mewing sadly, trying to catch our attention. All of us hurt in our indifference, but there is little we can do.  I am also amazed at the manipulative powers of this little cat. She knows exactly what to say and do to pull at my heartstrings.

The cat is beautiful and very loveable – I just don’t have room for her in my life, or in my house. The kids love her, but don’t want to take care of her.

When I am typing on my laptop, she insists on being petted and will fight with my kerboard for attention. When we are gardening, she planks herself in my arms and refuses to let me work. The need for love and attention is great. Whenever I can, I hold her and pet her and ponder  on the cruelty that humans have inflicted on these animals. There are hundreds of species who are homeless, foodless because we have taken over their natual habitats and forced them to become dependent on us for food and shelter. I also try to imagine what it would be like to be a cat, alienated from its own kind, its own family, homeless and shelterless, dependent on the whim and fancy of Madhu Sameer for love, comfort and warmth. When I am around her, I hate myself, my humanness and the selfishness that is an innate part of that humanity, but in spite of all that guilt and insight, I honestly don’t have the emotional resiliance to take on a baby in my house. So I will ponder on this, love her, pet her, murmur soft apologies for being human,  but when I return into the house, I let her stay outside.

And as usual, I wondered about the psychoanalytical base of my empathy, the one-ness I feel with her while she is in my arms. A poignant conversation that I had had with a friend – Arvind Handoo – a few months ago, and I was able to trace the origins of my behavior, and feelings, the correlates in my own psyche. Our likes and dislikes, our actions and inactions always have a developmental correlate, however unconscious that may be. 

And so it went and so it went for a few months. Until last week. I returned from work to find a dead sparrow on my doorstep. My heart just broke, and me and my kids gave her a burial in the backyard. I chided the kitty but I knew it was her dharma, her nature to be a predator. And she was doing what came naturally to her. But I wondered why she hadn’t eaten it.

A few days later I saw another dead bird on my doorsteps awaiting my return from work. A few days later, there was yet another one. I was puzzled why she wasn’t eating them up, why she was simply killing them, dragging them to my doorstep, and leaving them to greet me on my return. Being a Jungian who also delves into the symbolic interpretation of such phenomenon that surround me, I also wondered what the universe was trying to bring to my attention. Whatever it was, it seemed pretty morbid with serious implications on my physical and psychological well being. 

So I discussed it with a fellow Jungian, someone I deeply respect. And we came to the conclusion that the cat had possibly gone into a phase of offering sacrifices to the malevolent terrible mother who was denying her the priviledges of a home. Exactly the way humans offer sacrifices to god in return for favors. Perhaps our image of a sacrifice-demanding god is derived from the cat like nature that is inherent in all of us. As within, so without. Our images of god are but projections of our own psychological states, and possibilities.

And then, synchronitically, life threw a major curveball my way in the last week. But for my cat, I would have gone under with emotional overwhelm, until I realised what the universe had been trying to tell me for the last two months. Every human is a preditor in part. We all have an inner god that revealed itself to Job in Book of Job, a sadistic, relentless, self serving, narcissistic aspect of god that is essentially a preditor in its disposition. And it is the nature, the dharma of the preditor to seek. The prey is but a sacrifice to the inner, creative, omnipotent god. The psyche demands periodic sacrifice from the environment, for its own survival, its wellbeing, for continuity, this god does what it was meant to do – it courts death to engender its opposite, a regeneration that ensures the supremacy of its own existence. This isn’t by any means right or wrong, it just is – inherent in the psychological nature of the cat, or man – any man. Jung’s Answer to Job is an excellent insight into the natureof such a god.

This insight enabled a choice for me. Do I want to be led to the altar, a sacrificial lamb? Or can I keep myself safe until the next round, till next time life throws such a curveball ? It seemed that my whole life has been spent in being a human sacrifice, such a situation presents as a theme of my life. And I was being tested again. I had won, I had not succumbed. Hopefully, the complex that drives these situation in my life will be deactivated thru these insights. They brought immediate psychological relief. Did the universe want me to learn, pay attention – is that why the universe had allowed the cat to suddenly appear in my life? Was the whole situation orchestrated to test my resolve, and then to help me? I wonder if the cat sensed my inner turmoil, and in a mutually beneficial system based on non duality, she abstained from eating the prey, dragging those delicious morself of food to my doorsteps. Was it her way of saying “this is a sacrifice from me to you, and in parallel worlds you are being sacrificed to appease higher gods!”

On one level I know this is irrational, and yet, on another level, is it?

And I wondered that all the sacrifices that we offer to the god – are they even valued by the creator? The bird was a delicacy for the cat, and rather than eating it up, the cat has been offering it to me, the mother-god.  And yet, although I understand the purpose of those sacrifices, I have love for the cat, I have empathy, compassion, an understanding of its predicament, I am touched and moved, and yet I remain strangely unmoved from my position.  So does anything the cat do, matter to me at all ? Does anything we do matter to god?

I love the cat. But I need to maintain the sanctity of my own emotional sanity, and the sanctity of my home. And everyone else has a similar right. This was an experiential lesson that the beautiful white stray cat brings into my life. And although I will not go into the details of my personal life, trust me, it was a timely message sent to me by the universe.

I do experience a creator. I just can’t seem to depend on him, although it is getting better. 🙂

I’ll be away at Spokane for the next few days. But I already have pages and pages of my next blog, written yesterday during an aha moment of a great insight regarding a mythologically pertinent experience. I suppose creativity flows as, only and as a consequence of insights and self realzation. I should have posted that today, but for some irrational reason, the cat episode seemed terribly important and had to take precedence. I am sure there is method to my madness and it will reveal itself in time…

Be well. Take care.

12 responses to “The loveable homeless cat…”

  1. […] The loveable homeless cat… (madhusameer.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Hi,
    Our cat caught a mouse just one time in it’s life. We found it on the doorstep on the birthday of my girlfriend. I was really touched. I immediately saw it as a present from the cat to her. My girlfriend screamed and I had to dispose of it.
    The other thing I’d like to say is that I think analysing and blogging takes far more energy and time than just letting the cat in and feed it now and then. You’ll see that she will not be that demanding anymore as soon as you accept the adoption. What you resist persist.
    The story seems to be more simple than you make it. I don’t believe you have to introduce God and the universe. As a psychologist you will know that we humans have an undue tendency to project human features in everything. Like seeing faces everywhere and attributing human traits to animals and gods alike. Try to see this cat from natures perspective. Try to look through her eyes and you will see a totally different world.

    • Hi Lex,

      True blogging takes more time and energy. But the insights are priceless.

      It isn’t what the cat does, or feels that is important in the human context. It is what is projected on the cats behavior which throws the illuminating light of consciousness on the problem that waits to be understood. How do people read tea leaves ? The tea leaves do not arrange themselves to read our future. The person reading the leaves accesses his own unconscious to understand the problem being processed. However, the unconscious cannot be read if there is no intermediate object to carry those projections from the unconscious. The conscious mind can understand the unconscious only when the unconscious incarnates thru a medium. Hence our gods, the externlized versions of our highest innate potential.

      The poor cat was just dragged into the discussion. The discussion was more about me and my world. It is the only thing we humans are capable of understanding…

      Be well.

      M.

  3. Madhu,
    if the cat is giving you all these insights then thanks to the cat. As you say, sometimes a cat is not a cat. Other times a cat is just a cat.

    We always get our cats from the local animal shelter where they abound. Our current cat is a timid creature who was abused then left to forage in the wild. It has taken years to tame her.

    I always take cats in – wondering now what that says about me. Even when we were on holiday in Italy I fed the manky white cat hanging around where we were staying. And in Kuwait last year I was charmed and distressed by the lean cats fishing on the ocean’s edge.

    Cats in the East are maybe different than in the West.

    Karin

    • Karin,

      Perhaps they are different. But what is more important is what the symbol represents in your psyche. That meaning is like a heirloom that has been passed on to you intergenerationally. And that is all that matters in your interactions with the cat. If there is a conflict, if you were to enter into a relationship that was different to what the psyche has evoloved with – THAT, and THAT ALONE causes intrapsychic conflicts. There is no right or wrong, except when one is in conflict with what the inner god, the psyche, knows and believes.

      About what it says of you – briefly – a very compassionate and empathic person who finds some degree of resonance with a cat from the shelter. And if we are in tune with ourselves, all of us have this correlate to some degree or the eother. The archetype of an Orphan is a universal component ofevery psyche.

      We don’t have many cats in India. We have more dogs than cats. And stray animals don’t evoke the same sense of protection as they do here. There must be a developmental correlate, of course, to why this is so. And yes, perhaps the cats there are more wilder…a different species…

      M.

      M.

  4. A cat has been sitting outside my door since Friday (I will blog about it later) and I do not want him in as I already have 2 of these monsters.
    Yours looks gorgeous. I have to say that it is already too late and that she probably feels that you have adopted her, whatever you try to do. I don’t think cats require a lot emotionally. If she is needy now, she will definitely grow out of it. I love the way you have a slip and call her “my cat”. Good luck!

    • Hi K,

      There’s a beautiful black persian cat that has adopted my garage for her home in the last one year. But apart from that she has never intruded into my life. This one wants more. And won’t take no for an answer.

      Two years ago I had a similar situation with another cat, who had started killing lizards that inhabit my backyard. The ecology of the backyard is sacred to me, so I carried her to the otehr side of the town and had left her in front of an apartment block. I don’t like my birds, my squirrels and my lizards to be threatened or killed…

      Yes, the my. I became aware of it. And because it was an expression from the unconscious, and hence the reality of my emotions, I had let it be.

      Thanx for taking the time to respond…

      M.

  5. Madhu

    Nice parable.

    I have a cat too and she regularly brings us whole dead voles and shrews (she usually eats the mice and usually but not always eats the birds) – dead carcasses brought into the house as she has free access. I no longer flinch or am stern upon discovery. She has a special call which heralds her arrival with an offering. The cat’s offerings are a sign of gratitude and love, a recognition that this is home. ‘Your’ cat feels similarly about you and your home, even if you are deliberately setting a boundary. The boundary is for you not her. Your cat recognises the rules you have set as does ours who we lock in at night – she is quite happy with that. Locked in or locked out – home is still home for the cat!

    On another level it is interesting that the potential presence of the cat inside the home is felt as an emotional responsibility. I once had a dream about a group of cats being let loose in my home and they certainly disrupted emotional stability and led to an undermining of the foundations (in the dream!)

    Take care

    Karin

    • Karin,

      I understand that the cats are always attached to the home, not the people living in it. This one seems a bit different. She needs a LOT of love and affection. She will, like a peacock, engage in antics to attract our attention when we are outside and when we refuse her obvious quests for attention. When I am working on my pc in the backyard, I put her next to me, but it is almost as if she has a sibling rivalry with anything that is keeping my attention from her, so she will climb in the space between me and the laptop, and then snuggle her head under my hand, rubbing it in a way which makes it impossible to type. If I take her and put her on the side and continue working, the process will be repeated infinitely until I get fed up and bring myself indoors….at which point she gives out those heart wrenching mews…

      There seems to be an intense emotional need. Of course I wonder what her infancy had been like…. 🙂

      My home is an abode of love and sacrifice. I have a strong mother complex. I have learnt to limit my complex inside my home, or my workplace (if you followed my orientation, I am mostly self psychology oriented, where my personality is most helpful). And inside my home, there is an emotional responsibility, and my priviledge to shower others with love. Anything less is unacceptable to me. I don’t think I have the resiliance to be who I really am, or want to be, with a baby. Hence the reluctance. Yes, I did not know, but I did get it that the offerings are out of love and gratitude. We do connect while I am in my backyard 🙂 And for some reason, even though my kids adore her and spend substantially more time with her than I do (mine are brief forays), she is much more attached to me. I interpreted as a mom-need to the kids. Just like they preferred my company over anyone else’s, so did she !!!

      My post was more about the symbolism. There were many more that I didn’t go into – the feline nature of the cat that is attempting to endear itself to me, the locked doors of my home, my decision to not let her in, and her persistence in her endeavors….all in all it has been so synchronistic, almost a parallel process on what is going on in my life on more than one fronts….so it was interesting to become aware that the same reality is being manifest in many ways in my life….there has to be certain kind of energies I am enveloped in, or certain lessons that the universe is attempting to impart by presenting the same problem on all fronts….an effort to demolish my Great Mother complex…. LOL!

      M.

      • Hi
        Yes I did understand the symbolism but decided not to go there. I was also curious about all the stuff around the home given previous exchanges you and I have had, and how that may influence how you feel about this cat, or any, entering your home – vs maybe a Western response.
        Karin

    • Karin,

      Home is a relatively more sacred place in an Eastern psyche. It is a temple that is metaphorically synonomous with the body, the temple of the soul. All the emotions and rules that one holds for the sacredness of the body, apply for the home as well. Just the way we take off our shoes before we enter a temple, so we take off our shoes when we enter our home.

      When we pray, we first wash our hands and then pray. Preferable is a shower. The bodily cleansing represents the process of prayer – the spiritual cleansing. And touching, hugging, kissing my kids is like prayers for me. Kitchen is sacred area, another temple within a temple, because it provides nourishment, love etc that enables one to survive and thrive. So again, that is sacred to me.

      And wonder what would happen if I let the cat in? Will I wash my hands 50 times a day? Will I develop OCD symptoms? How do I maintain the sanctity of the places within the house that are sacred to my psyche. Will it be important or will I be able to let it go…

      I think its an intrapsychic struggle in the deepest recesses of my mind. I don’t consciously think about these things, for I had a dog before, but then, dogs dont climb up the kitchen counters, and they’re relatively easier to train. But now that you mention, perhaps the reluctance comes from the deepest parts of my psyche.

      There are a few other things related to food, and feeding. The reluctance is more symbolic than physical. Feeding represents something in my psyche, a kind of giving of myself wholly to the other, and I don’t think I am at a point where I can take on the responsibility of feeding anyone except my family.

      The right brain does not see the cat just as a cat. She becomes synonymous with many other things, some of which may be conflictual and the psyche is left with the task of aligning all this conflicting demands. Its just that I can access those parts of my psyche consciously – for someone else the struggles may lie deeper in the unconscious, but then they would cause irrational behaviors and unconscious acting out. Our instincts usually are on the spot, and if we follow those all the time, a lot of psychological grief can be automatically avoided….

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