To turn a repeated phrase from the Old Testament, “And these are the generations of”…my cats: Ming I, Taffy, Ming II, Zoe and Maxine Von Kitty, Mama, Chuck, Bud and Lou, Sam and Dave Silverman, Harry, and Eve and Calpurnia. Some of them ran the house on their own, others – and you can tell by the placement of my commas, in pairs. “What is it about cats? my dog friends would press. “They don’t really do anything but eat and sleep.”
I was always a cat ONLY girl, until I rescued Jack, a rather troubled Maltese, who came to live with me and my former husband during the Sam and Dave years. I watched the cats first hiss and scurry away from Jack before moving on to regard him from shelves on high. We doted on Jack, ‘cause, frankly, he was gosh-darn cute. He knew all his toys by name and would retrieve them on command. We oohed and ahhed and clapped. We made our friends suffer through his little performances, after which he always received a treat. All the while, the cats looked on, wearing an expression that seemed to say, Really, little dog… Where’s your dignity?
Sam and Dave have long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Today, Jack, who’s 14, lives with his daddy, who texts me snapshots – the most recent of Jack in his little blue Hanukkah sweater. I digress. Anyway, my now-husband and I share our home with the “fur girls,” Eve and Calpurnia, cats who will come when we call if they aren’t otherwise engaged, like napping or nibbling. While most dog people will toss this lackadaisy up to selfishness or, worse, simplemindedness, I maintain that cats hold themselves to a higher moral standard. If it doesn’t feel right or isn’t part of their nature, they won’t do it. They are true to their true cat selves. They have…integrity. Merriam-Webster’s first definition of integrity is adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility. Cats are models for living because they choose not to compromise their core kitty values for an ooh or an ahh.
By the way, integrity is one of the core values that guide the work my colleagues and I do at A Woman’s Place and is the real topic of this blog. I googled the word and found a Goodreads collection of quotes about living in this state of honesty and authenticity. Click on http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/integrity for some laughs and lots of human models for living. And be sure not to rush through them or you’ll miss the gem from Eckhart Tolle in his groundbreaking “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”: I have lived with several Zen masters–all of them cats.