Cat. Box. Zen.

I don’t usually talk about my cat. For one thing, I don’t ascribe to the philosophy that she is a “member of the family.” She’s more like a resentful boarder. For another, I know that listening to stories about my cat is about as interesting and appealing as watching me clip my toenails. So I’ll try to make this not a cute cat story.

Our cat, Peekie, (a nickname of Pequod, which is the name of the whaling vessel in Moby Dick) it basically batshit crazy most of the time. She’s half feral and is notable for her random explosions of violence and love of killing things. But she can also be surprisingly relaxed and often, in rare moments, when she forgets that she hates us and is afraid of everything and everyone, she’s almost like a normal, well-adjusted cat. Almost.

It’s a happy coincidence that we ended up with a cat whose neuroses roughly mirror our own. As a bonus, she is, like us, also incredibly attached to her little routines. One of them involves her use of the cat litter box. She will wait until we sit down to eat in the dining room, and then she will go to work with what sounds like a major excavation project of her litter box in the next room, the kitchen. Yesterday I was eating breakfast alone, watching the sun come up and listening to the sounds of frantic cat litter relocation. Lulled by her rhythmic scrapings and bored beyond belief by my sugar-free generic Mini Wheats, I became lost in thought. A few minutes later, I realized that the scraping had stopped and the house was quiet. Eerily quiet. An investigation was in order.

First I looked for Peekie in the kitchen, but she was not to be found there. I came round into the living room and looked for her on what we call her “beach towel,” an old bath towel we’ve tucked behind a chair. She was not splayed there as she usually is. Then I looked across the room. And that’s when I saw it: a picture of such contentment and bliss that I was momentarily struck breathless.

There, smashed into an empty box, sat Peekie. It was a small box, about 6″x10″ and not very deep. She had explored the box the previous evening, scoping it out, inserting an experimental paw. She’d clearly wanted to get into the box, but at the time she couldn’t figure out how. It seemed that she’d finally cracked that nut. She was sitting in the box, upright, her furry chest thrust outward almost majestically. Looking straight ahead, her eyes were half open. She was breathing deeply and purring softly, the picture of happy solitude. She wanted to be nowhere else in the world at that moment than sitting quietly in that box.

I know that cats are not self-aware. They probably can’t have anything resembling personal goals. But she’d solved a problem and fulfilled a strong desire in that moment. She was supremely at peace. Beatific, even. Looking at her, I thought, “That is what I’d like for myself, even for just a few moments, every single day.”

Then she hopped out of the box, ran over to the rug and started practicing small animal disembowelments with a tennis ball. It was good while it lasted.

4 Responses

  1. As far as cat posts go, that was pretty damn good. I’m glad you’re not of the “cats are family members” variety. Too bad you weren’t able to snap a photo of her in the box.

    Another worthy cat-related post I saw this morning: (It’s old, but I just saw it for the first time today. Perhaps you missed it before too.)

  2. I like it. I don’t like cats (more a function of allergies than personality), and I don’t like essays about cats. But I like Peekie, and I like this. And I agree, we should all feel bliss for a moment each day.

    Sorry I missed the litter strewing, but so glad I got to see the “HOLY SHIT – THE BASEMENT DOOR IS SHUT” fit.

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