Friday, July 31, 2020

The Touch of a Furry Paw

I've grown up with pets most of my life. My first pet was a beautiful Rough Collie named Tiny. We later had a Cocker Spaniel and two Pekingeses. I look back on the joys of sharing the first twenty years of my life with these wonderful canine companions. However, it wasn't until I experienced the soft touch of a cat's furry paw on my hand and face that I realized the comfort and peace one receives when sharing their home with a feline.

Truffle giving my hand a comforting touch with her furry paw

I shared my home with my first cat back in the late 70s. Muff was born out in the country under a mobile home. When she first came to live with us, we discovered she had ringworm. I was the one who had to treat her (not my now ex-husband) and I ended up getting ringworm from her and lost all of my eyelashes. Muff wasn't a snuggly cat, but as she got older, she would rest beside me, touching my stomach, on the couch when I'd come home exhausted and stressed from a long day teaching. She'd stay there until my husband would come home. The first time I realized how attuned cats were to humans was when my husband and I were having a verbal fight and getting quite loud one day. Muff walked in between our legs and meowed loudly several times, looking up at us as if to say, "Cut it out!" Once we looked down at her and stopped arguing, she left and went about her business. Little did I know, I had just experienced the 6th sense cats have when they've bonded with a human.

Gray cat with female
Mom Paula and Muff (circa 1978)

My ex-husband played in a band and would always have the members of the band over to practice at our home. They practiced in the basement of the house, but were extremely loud and practiced until late in the evening. I remember one time when Muff was looking out the window, one of the band members drove up and got out of his car. When Muff saw him, she growled!!! Even though Muff lived to be 19 years old, I don't remember anything else specific about her personality with me. I do remember the touch of her soft, velvety fur next to my skin and how comforting she was to me after a long day teaching.  

Tortoiseshell Persian kitten
Sweet Praline (December 1995)

It wasn't until Sweet Praline came into my life that I began to understand the calming influence and strong bond of a feline who shares your home. I was going through a divorce after 21 years of marriage and had chosen to go to Clemson University to work on my Ph.D. when Praline chose to share her life with me. I was extremely depressed because of the impending divorce and stressed with the coursework required for my doctorate degree. When I saw Praline the first time, I could feel a smile forming on my face. When I picked her up, she licked my face, began purring, and soon fell asleep in my arms.

Praline provided a lot of entertainment for me. I'd been separated for a over a year when she first came to live with me. I'd been so depressed and unsociable and everyone I knew was worried about me. I remember my mom telling my dad that I could bring Praline into their home (my dad didn't like cats) because they were seeing a smile on my face and hearing laughter for the first time in two years. Praline provided laughter, comfort, challenges, and a release from the everyday stress in my life for almost sixteen years. Praline wasn't a "lap kitty" and she rarely slept with me. However, when I had shoulder surgery and was in extreme pain, she did stay right beside me on the arm of the couch as I recovered from two surgeries within 6 months. At the time, I had a recliner couch and Praline loved to sleep and rest on the footrest when I was watching TV. Praline did have a habit of talking to people when I was on the phone. She could be in the back of the house, but when she heard me talking on the phone, she'd come into the room and turn on her loud purr engine to the joy of many people on the other side of the phone line. I've shared the story of life with Praline several times on this blog and she will always be my heart kitty!

two silver shaded Persian cats
Truffle and Brulee (2020)

And then came the "dessert sisters," Truffle and Brulee. Although Sweet Praline was my "heart kitty," I wasn't prepared for the special bond I have with these two. They've provided so much joy, comfort, and humor into my life that's it's never boring and always satisfying! Many stories are shared about living with these two beautiful Silver Shaded Persians on this blog. 

Silver shaded Persian, Truffle (headshot)
Truffle's large green eyes have a calming effect when she gazes at me

Truffle seems to have that 6th sense for when I need her emotionally. I was diagnosed with a rare form of obsessive/compulsive/perfectionism almost 30 years ago and one of the side effects is anxiety and depression. One of the symptoms of my emotional challenge is that when I'm working on something, especially on the computer, I tend to hyper-focus and can sit there for hours without a break. I can start on a blog post or another important project and before I know it, the entire day has passed and I haven't even eaten. Truffle tends to sense when I need a break. She will jump on my computer desk and sit directly in front of the computer monitor. If I try to move her, she "hunkers down" and seems to weigh twice as much as normal. I can put her down on the floor or on her cat tree beside me, but she will continuously jump up on the desk and plant herself in front of the monitor. She won't stop with this routine until I stop working and gather her into my arms where she settles in for a restful nap with loud soothing purrs. For the past 10+ years, I've had difficulty sleeping because my mind won't turn off when I lay down at night. Things are a little better since retirement, but medical and financial issues the last few years have caused some restless and sleepless nights. When I've had a rough day emotionally, Truffle jumps on the bed and settles in right beside my shoulder and face and sleeps there all night. Once I wake up, Truffle will jump off the bed in search of bugs that crept in during the night or to "rough house" with her sister.

Truffle doesn't really respond to my health needs as much as she does my emotional needs. However one afternoon last year, I fell asleep on the couch watching TV. I'd recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea and was required to wear a CPAP machine when sleeping, even when taking a short nap. I was so exhausted that day because of pain from my knee surgery that I didn't go back to my bedroom to put on the CPAP machine to take a nap and instead fell asleep in the chair in front of the TV. I was awakened by Truffle climbing up my stomach to my chest to my face. She let out a loud MEOW and put her face directly into my face, which woke me up. I fully believe she realized I'd stopped breathing and she was waking me up. This was the one time, she did look out for my health.

Silver shaded Persian sitting
Brulee (July 2020)

Brulee is Truffle's half sister who came to live with us about two months after Truffle. Truffle was already living with me when it was time to select a second kitten. Originally Truffle's litter mate, Beignet, was supposed to live with us, but unfortunately, he developed a sarcoma from his first vaccination and died on the operating table removing the cancer. Brulee was born a few days later. I was offered the opportunity to select a second kitten from a new litter. Mom Terri would send me photos and videos of all of the kittens in the litter those first few weeks after birth. When they turned six-weeks old and after their first vet visit, Terri told me I could come visit to let a kitten choose me. I spent almost three hours getting to know all of the kittens in the litter. There was one little kitten that didn't socialize with me at all during that time. She was asleep over in the corner. As I was getting ready to leave, this little bundle of fur walked over between the two of us, laid on the floor and rolled over on her back for Terri to rub her belly. I remember making the comment, "so you finally decided to join us." As I was getting ready to stand up to leave, this adorable little furball reached over with her paw and touched my arm and gave me a look with those huge eyes that seemed to say, "don't forget about me."

Silver shaded Persian Kitten
Brulee (October 2011) giving me that look!

I left Terri's home that day more confused than ever. The photos of this little flat-faced Persian didn't speak to me those first five weeks, but the touch of that little paw stayed with me. I couldn't get Brulee out of my mind over the next few days while I was making the decision on who would share our lives. Brulee had already made that decision for me. This adorable little furball had chosen me and wanted to make sure I knew it.

Brulee has never shown any fear since coming into my home. She didn't hide those first few days like Truffle did and she went right up to Truffle to play, even after being swatted down. Brulee wormed her way right into my heart and into Truffle's care within a few days of moving into our home. Truffle still gives Brulee a rough time sometimes, but Brulee stands up for herself now. For a long time, Brulee wasn't really a cat who wanted to cuddle, but that's changed. She snuggles up to me when she chooses the time and place.

silver shaded persian cat touching human
Brulee touching Mom Paula

That furry paw knows how to get my attention and how to comfort me.

Brulee has become very intuitive to my needs, especially when I'm sick. This past Winter, I was extremely ill for almost four months. Even though I tested negative for COVID-19, I had all of the symptoms and the doctors still think I had this dreaded disease. I was coughing so terribly that Truffle wouldn't come near me. However, my little quirky Brulee stayed right beside me in the bed. She would snuggle up next to me with her head on my neck and her soft furry paw on my arm.

When I'm typing away at the computer and Brulee thinks it's time for a treat, she will gently tap my arm with her paw continuously until I stop to give her a treat. When she taps my arm and utters a quiet meow, I know it's time for me to pick her up. She will snuggle into my arms, emitting a loud purr, and place that furry paw on my arm while she begins a long nap.
In the mornings or evenings when I'm still in bed and at my calmest, Brulee will perform her little routine of moving closer and then farther away until she finally climbs onto my lap and allows me to lay her on her side for a snuggle session. I always know we're at our calmest when Brulee reaches up with her paw to touch me to let me know that everything is going to be okay.

Brulee has also developed that 6th sense to help me emotionally. About a year ago, Brulee begin not wanting to eat in her normal area in the kitchen. I'd put the food down and she'd walk away. Like any caring cat mom, I'd move the food over to where she walked. If I tried to put the bowl down before she stopped, she kept walking. Eventually, she'd stop and I realized that was where she wanted to eat. The first animal communicator I talked to said Brulee didn't want to eat in her normal place. Even though Coryelle tried to talk to Brulee and convince her to eat near the kitchen, Brulee told her she didn't want to and continued to refuse to eat in the kitchen. When I talked with another animal communicator last summer, she said Brulee was playing a game with me. She said Brulee was worried about me and thought I needed to have more fun. We continue playing this game every day. If you could see us, you'd see this cat mom following a cat around the house with a bowl of food in her hands until the fluffy ball of fur stops and looks up at the human. This is when the human puts the food down and Brulee eats.

Two silver shaded Persian cats sleeping
Brulee and Truffle sleeping with Mom Paula

I know everyone who shares their home with a pet probably feels the same way about their bond and has similar experiences. I believe when one chooses to bring a furry companion into their home, that you should provide an environment that is safe, comfortable, loving, and healthy. In return, you'll receive the greatest love of all - the unconditional love and companionship of a pet. My two cats bring that comfort, peace, and even health through their antics, their purrs, and the touch of a furry paw.

Would you like to comment?

  1. It was so cool learning more about your relationship with your girls.

  2. Truffle and Brulee are so amazing and beautiful. Of course Praline was super duper special too!

  3. What sweet stories/memories of your furry friends. I think that sometimes they know what we need even more than we do and, in their own ways, look out for us just as we do them.

  4. Beautiful post. I can't imagine a life without cats now.

  5. I so understand you and cannot imagine a life without pets, they bring so much into our lives

  6. It’s always so amazing to hear about how animals learn to interact with us. I truly believe that they “speak” to us. We just need to take the time to listen to them. The stories about your cats and how they cared for you is a wonderful reminder for all of us to take the time to listen.

  7. Dad says he can't imagine life without a cat, although he and mom couldn't get themselves to have another one for a while after Orbit passed and until I blessed their life. Dad's had cats in his life since waaaaay back as far as he can remember.

  8. A lovely post. I can't imagine a life without my cats now. The inspire, they encourage and they make me laugh.

  9. There’s nothing like it when the perfect cat matches to the perfect human. I loved hearing the stories of you and your furbabies. Muff was a cutie!

  10. TBT here" There are times to comment and times to not comment much. This was a time to just read.

    I understand so much of what you said.

    So for now, just "WOW"! Thank you for that post.

  11. Beautiful photos as always - lovely kitties!

  12. Thanks for sharing these stories about your pets! Pets are the most wonderful companions.

  13. This was beautiful to read. Each and every cat brings their own unique personality, don't they. They never 'replace' the cats from our past, instead, each creates their own special spot in our hearts where they will remain throughout our lives!

  14. I just can't get over the amazing and wonderful abilities our cat possess. They just seem to know ... and we don't have to say even one word. For me, growing up and having to push my unbearable pain down just to function as a "normal" kid, I became COMPLETELY disconnected from my feelings. It was impossible to reach those emotions - even in therapy. And how do you even try to put words to profound and scary emotions that you get the sense will destroy you?! Bear bridged that gap. And his hijinks pulled me out of my head and made it easier for me to move past the immediate moment of distress. I'm so very glad you've had so many wonderful lady cats taking care of you. You deserve love, to be happy, to feel safe, to feel like you are more than good enough ... and us humans with our imperfections tend to disappoint each other without meaning to. Cats just have a way of giving us exactly what we need - even if we don't realize right away that that's what they're doing.

  15. One way or another, each pet leaves a print in our heart.

  16. Gorgeous cats! What wonderful words you gave to each one of your loves. Our pets mean so much to us.


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