Caring for Cats and Creativity

Some days there are these beautiful moments of insight that solve creative problems sifting in the background. Sometimes they happen in the middle of work and those rare gifts are pretty much everything. Usually they’re terribly fickle and cannot be chased. This morning was one of those moments.

Calico in her younger years

Recently I began looking into adopting a cat. My sweet calico had been an independent and fairly solitary cat so when she passed away I gave myself grieving time. Time to be without her or any cat. Throughout my life I have always been happier with at least one cat in my life. There’s something about living with animals that brings me closer to the natural world and puts day to day living into a perspective that I find incredibly fulfilling. I don’t think everyone feels this universally from the same types of animals but I do think most of us benefit greatly from nonhuman stewardship in some form. But after more than a decade with my calico it wasn’t just about that connection. I wanted her back in my life and I knew that was impossible. The space to grieve was time to figure out how she fit into my life once she passed from it.

Neighborhood cat resting after fluids and antibiotics

Around February was when the search for a new cat began. The timing ended up being terrible and there was a false start with an injured neighborhood cat who was too independent to become a pet but appreciated the effects of the vet visits though he did not appreciate the confinement of medical care. Eventually he stole a moment when the front door was open to run back toward his independent outdoor life. The fact that he had the energy to do so was a testament to how ill he’d been when we took him in and I tried to take it as a sign at how much he’d improved from the care he’d received. But it was heartbreaking that he’d become skittish if he saw me in the parking lot where he sleeps under the cars. Then March brought the state of emergency declarations and there wasn’t a chance to spend time with a cat to decide about adoption. Finally at the start of May I had narrowed down my options online and made an appointment to meet a kitten.

Little Lady demands cuddles

We hit it off immediately and she’s very different from my calico. This Little Lady is a cuddler, perhaps because she’s still such a small kitten. She has an independent streak but she’s more social than my cali. At about ten weeks old she remains very friendly and social, my cali was not as much so even around the same age.

The consequence of Little Lady’s sociability is that I have to steal moments to create. With my calico I prioritized whatever I was doing and while it did reinforce her independence I missed out on building some of the kitten memories that once she was grown I mourned the loss of. I’ve been building momentum with my edits and art over the last month. To some extent it has been a little disappointing to slow down the momentum in order to focus on Little Lady (encouraging her desirable behaviors and discouraging the problematic behaviors–oh electronic cables you are the worst). But, because I built that momentum I am finding that my mind is finally more immersed in my creative projects even when I’m not actively working on them. That has been an utter delight. I’ve still been reading a fair amount but mostly I’ve been keeping the Little Lady company and stealing moments to write. My word count has dropped and I won’t be meeting my goal for the month. I’m finding a new momentum instead of mourning the loss of productivity.

And then this morning, in between her attempts to eat my journal and my efforts to distract her with her teddy bear, I happened into some clarity about one of my characters that had been eluding me for awhile. It hadn’t been my focus as journaling time follows (loosely) Julia Cameron’s morning pages format. Today there will be more stolen moments (like this one) as I continue to work with these new insights. There is a joy to the ways in which creativity takes many forms, many include being actively open to the ebb and flow and most include a lot of work without a clear ending (no matter how much plotting and planning one puts in). And I think that’s the joy of caring for cats too.

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