My cat tries to teach me patience. When I was a kid my mother tried. “Patience is a virtue” was one of her favorite directives to me. I was Catholic at the time and believed that virtue was something to be striven for though rarely attained. I grew out of that.
My cat wants to go outside. It is of course against the HOA rules to let a pet roam off leash. Other people let their animals out but I have lost a few beloved pets to cars over the years, and I have seen the foxes and coyotes that visit the neighborhood looking for tasty furry morsels.
So we compromise and one of us cat servants will escort him. Usually he follows our prescribed route, around the far tennis court through the rain culvert and back by the clubhouse.
But these days since it has gotten cooler we don’t go out often. Perhaps that’s why he has decided to branch out on his own. I read that cats and dogs have the mental development of small children. My own observations support that theory. Pets can be as stubborn as two-year olds.
He doesn’t like the crunch of the dead leaves under his feet or tickling his low hanging belly. So I try to let him choose the path and wait patiently as he investigates the scents of those who have passed by the shrubs along the way. There is zenlike quiet in the neighborhood on a weekday morning. But standing and listening I can hear the whoosh of traffic from the main street a few blocks away. And the delightful sounds of birds that I can’t even see. When the breeze fades it’s pleasant to feel the autumn sun on my face. The sunlight glistens on the last of the leaves hanging on to their branches. It’s the kind of moment I need to savor and save to revisit when it’s cold and snowy.
When he’s done with scent tracking we proceed along the sidewalk. Then he turns crazy cat. His eyes get big and green and he shakes his head and rump. I know he is going to take off running in some inconvenient direction. As he is aging it’s less often up a tree. Today he heads for a drainage ditch. Oh please don’t do that. There was a raccoon den there in the spring. I don’t know if they are gone. Sure enough, he heads in that direction at a fast trot. I don’t run after him because that will encourage him to run faster. So I walk as quickly and quietly as I can. And stop when he turns to look at me defiantly. He’s not quite sure if he really wants to go into the drain pipe. Perhaps it still smells like raccoon territory. I have my chance and sneaking up behind I grab my furry toddler and patiently carry him wiggling the two blocks to home.