Gigi came to my home in mid-April. I had been catless for about twenty years. My reason for living without was due to circumstances I felt unwelcome for companionship. The first being I tend to have two jobs and am simply not home much. The other was completing a college degree at night compounding the not home syndrome. The degree took almost eight years to finish. The landlords also said no. I honestly felt I would not give kitty the attention necessary for its health and well-being. I have a strong belief in allowing cats some outdoor time when possible. I now live in a place that lends itself to cat kinship. After several years of a no cat policy, my landlord changed his mind about this. I had started seeing fuzzy faces in windows and occasionally outside.
The other spur was the consistent dreaming I had around cats. Most of the dreams involved being back inside an old apartment I had during the 90s. I particularly enjoyed this home as the rooms were spacious with tall windows. The moonlight would stream in the bedroom windows waking me to being washed in dreamy lunar trails. In the dream, the apartment was in disrepair. The cat would appear and I know that I hadn’t feed the poor thing in too long. Other dreams along a similar vein included an old cat I had who I remember as the mighty hunter. I found a journal entry dated from November of 2005. I was so impressed by a recent dream that I wrote to a Wicca message board seeking support, here is the exact entry…
Cat Sitting on my Head – I had heard if you put a bowl of water next to your bed stand it formed a connection to Moon energy and often opened the door to the dream world. Well, I did this yesterday and had a proper message come through except I am too mortal to interpret the images. All I can recall is feeling my black cat crawl his way up my back and sit on my head. I was looking into a mirror and clearly saw him lying over my head quite relaxed and looking smashing. Another black cat was in the mirror toward my right side. Both were healthy, thick shiny coats, quite alert and looking at me in the mirror.
One of them was ShuShu, the mightiest hunter I ever had. We shared a home when I worked managing a small private horse stable. This place was cat heaven as he had wide fields to hunt in. He would regularly bring in live critters for my pleasure. I found a mole one day burrowing under the carpet in an attempt to get away. Birds flying free in the living room were a spectacle to be sure. I had perfected a technique for getting them out alive. Open the top half of all the sashes and use a broom to shoo the bird in that direction. This never failed. Mighty hunter loved his life on the farm.
When I tried to return back to urban life, he didn’t survive the outdoors. I found him dead one day. He was too young to have perished and I had been reckless to have brought him from country freedom to city tangles. This cat did come to me in dreams on a regular basis. I became so distressed at his shadow that I performed a forgiveness ritual. I apologized for changing his life and neglecting his well-being. I had thought only of my needs and not what was best for him. The dreams continued to the point I put out a bowl of water and cheese on my balcony in an attempt to feed its spirit and somehow appease the message of taking care of this cat. When I think about the drama occurring in the dream state it is a message from within. However, in all the curiosity over these dreams, I never took them literally. I assumed spirit was sending me a message about a mess inside my psyche. Perhaps mighty hunter was telling me I should care for cats that are in need. I take things often as having a cerebral meaning for me not that they might be something to put into action through me.
For several years, I was also haunted by dreams of starving horses in a filthy stable. When I was in my early twenties, I took a job as barn manager on an estate in New Jersey. I lived in Stockton on the Delaware River. There were about 500 acres of wide open fields, a small area of forest and rolling hills in every direction. On my own, I managed a small barn of about five horses for a wealthy older lady called Miss Jane. In all I was there for four years. During this time I had arrived with three cats and lost one of them to the wilds of night. In my dreams, I am back in that stable and it is beyond filthy with muck and manure. I always ended up back in that barn with a monumental task in front of me.
I also had dreams of horses under the house where I grew up penned in the stables dying from lack of feed and neglect. The horses are kept inside out of daylight and confined. My task is to remember I have left them there and must rescue them. I begin the act of rescue and the dream fades out. Over and over these images had haunted me. From time to time, I also found myself back to riding horses. Sometimes the ride was bumpy but once or twice, it was the ride of my life, smooth, horse and I moving fluidly and happily through a graceful canter. The dreams eventually faded out. In this writing, I forgot how much I was involved in living a quiet life with animals.
Sometimes in life, a dream can become a reality. The urge to establish a homeless shelter for horses that are in jeopardy has been overwhelming this year. If there is such a thing as the Spirit of All Things, it has been roaring in my ears lately. So pushed have I been by this thought, I started to say it aloud to people. A link was sent to me about a volunteer opportunity at a local shelter for horses. The closest I have been to a horse in the last twenty years has been my country lane walk past the two ponies in the farmer’s field. One of them was near to the road and I couldn’t help but notice how he smelled. I missed the smell of a horse. Deep down inside, I craved it. I managed to fit in at the rescue barn, each week committing myself to the day chores feeding, grooming and fussing over horses that need care for awhile. The dormant skills I had working with horses surfaced quickly. I know how to move, bend, push and prosper in a barn. It’s a matter of fitting into an established group of caring people that don’t like outsiders.
I adopted Gigi from the local cat shelter in April. There was some difficulty in connecting with the manager. Ring no answer, no reply to my message. Something odd was happening and I prefer smooth moves. As it happened, she called the next afternoon and we arranged for me to stop by. An hour later Gigi was in a cat carton on the front seat of my car. Carol was somewhat persuasive and accepted any amount as a donation. She thought nobody would want a ten-year old cat. Gigi had been a resident of the shelter since October when her owner died. Gigi was adopted out of this same shelter as a kitten.
When we got home, Gigi wandered about the apartment. I remember thinking this was a strange thing to have done; what had I done? We were both rather tense and looking at each other in a wary way. She spent the first night sleeping and wandering in the front room. I believe she tried very hard to sleep behind the book stand. I keep it katty corner and it has a dusty, spider webby spot for hiding. At around four in the morning she started meowing quite loudly. I got up and gave her some cat food. This seemed to help her quite a bit.
The first two weeks were sketchy. At first I didn’t think she was very attractive to look at. She is an odd combination of black, gold and white fur: a perfect tortishell. Her eyes seemed a bit smallish in her face and the black outline made them appear even smaller than usual. These sound now like petty mumblings; I wonder what she thought when she looked at me. I do recall eating dinner that first evening as she sat near my feet staring in that animal way waiting for a morsel. Whatever it was, I didn’t think it for a cat’s palate and she received nothing. Only dry cat food and water for a first meal. We stumbled around for a few weeks until things smoothed out. I experimented with different foods trying to find a good balance. I was concerned from the start about the ingredients in her meals. I thought commercial cat food was mostly factory processing waste, I mean what else could meat by products be? So, I explored cat message forums, read labels and generally sorted out what was healthful and what not.
I remember being concerned about this adoption at that time as I had planned a trip out-of-town for the second weekend in May. A friend agreed to come over and feed her but I had my doubts about leaving her alone. The other concern I had was around leaving her locked inside all day. The weather at this time of year hovers between here comes spring and winter isn’t quite gone. Some days are mild and the fauna start the process of rebirth. Other days can be damp, rainy and drismal. The weather had its milder moments and I wanted to leave the balcony door open for her. The screen was closed but it became on obsessive thought that she have fresh air every day. I remember leaving the balcony door open when I left town as it was warm to balmy. When I got home from my weekend away, I found the door closed and locked. I got scolded for leaving a door ajar. I live on the second floor? How could anybody get in here from out there? Too many neighbors to see a sneaking thief? No, bad choice. Gigi did fine. I was the one that had concerns all weekend. I recall mentioning my circumstances to someone at the workshop and she said things would be fine. Cats are much more adaptable to a few days home alone than I imagined. Still, I had my concerns and actually left the workshop after breakfast Sunday. I hadn’t slept well at all.
The purpose of life can be as simple as pursuing happiness. However, the realm of contentment within the self is dependent upon reflections of spirits upon the life. Gigi has a spirit about her. How she sits so quietly with her ears pointed up. The image is of settlement, beauty and place. She is home, she has become content in the home I can offer her. I have brought her comfort. This is a powerful thing. I am uncertain if she experiences happiness, she certainly seems gay and buoyant at moments. In my pursuit of happiness, it has involved bringing a feline home as a companion for my days and nights. I have accepted her as she is with unconditional grace. All is well when a cat comes home.
To be continued….