BellaOnline Literary Review
Red Shouldered Hawk by Al Rollins

Table of Contents

Non Fiction

Feline Persuasion

Terri Johansen

She’s joyful. She’s lazy. She makes me laugh.

I’ve never been much of a cat person--that is, until I brought Josie home. I’ve always had dogs, and I still have a dog, Sammy. But cats and dogs are similar to humans in that dogs are from Mars and cats are from Venus. When Josie came to live with us she was a very tiny kitten, six weeks old. I feared for her life because she seemed so small and frail. She’s a Tiger cat with short shiny gray, beige, and black hair and great big green-yellow cat eyes with ears like a bat.

Several times in those first weeks I questioned my decision to get a cat. I lived alone at the time; just Sammy and I. I decided that Sammy needed a companion. Someone to keep him company and entertained while I was at work. I didn’t ask Sammy his opinion at the time, but as I look back I realize he would have preferred a rawhide bone. Maybe I was the one who needed more company. I made Josie a bed in a wicker basket, fleece blankets and all. She absolutely loved it--for one day. Then she never looked back.

Her childhood was a trial for Sammy and me. At night, when we wanted to sleep she would pounce all over the bed. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I locked her in my office. She then took to body slamming against the door and screaming at the top of her little baby lungs, sure to make my neighbors think I was torturing her. Her favorite pastime was hanging by her sharp little claws from the venetian blinds or the drapes. And her second favorite pastime was hanging by her needle like teeth from my hands. Her body-slamming tricks were infamous as she would attack Sam with her “Ninja Dance.”

Right from the start she earned her name. Originally her name was Mia; sweet and innocent. But I quickly changed it to “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” and she has remained our Josie, though I think Sammy has a few other choice names for her.

Josie has had a profound influence on my life and she has imparted a great deal of “cat” wisdom upon Sam and me. She often reminds me of an “enlightened” being sharing her knowledge with the meager peasants who live in her dominion.

Josie only eats when she is hungry. She has a particular fondness for Seafood Delight which resembles tuna in smell and texture--however she refuses to eat tuna. She doesn’t seem to seek comfort from her food like I do from a Krispie Kreme donut. Josie prefers her bowl to remain full at all times but I am sure that she only eats when her small belly nudges her. She has wonderful weight maintenance skills and her most effective one seems to be when she is feeling a little plump she just spits up a giant hairball, losing two pounds just like that.

Josie sleeps when she is tired, when she is bored, or when she just wants to hide from us. She is an expert on the luxury of a soft, warm, safe spot to take her nap. I believe she has a few sleep spots that I haven’t located yet, though I have found that she enjoys dark, high, places. Perfect for looking down on us or pouncing on us whichever her mood. She prefers sleeping during the day so she can herd cattle--term referring to the sound of cattle’s hooves as they pound the ground during round-up-- during the night while Sam and I are trying to sleep. I could learn the lesson of a good nap from Josie, allowing myself the pleasures of soft pillows, my quilt, and the top shelf of a closet.

Another one of Josie’s weight maintenance secrets is her love of yoga practice. She definitely knows her yoga poses. When she wakes up she rises slowly after she has extended in a Full Body Stretch and then she goes into the Lion’s Pose with her mouth wide open yawning. She particularly likes Downward and Upward Facing Dog Poses and I’ve seen her do Shoulder Stand as well as Plough Pose, and don’t forget the all time feline favorite Cat/Cow Pose. I’m not sure when Josie had time to attend yoga classes in between her naps and cattle herding, but she practices her poses faithfully every day. I believe that she actually does it because it makes her feel good. What a concept! To incorporate movement into your life just for the sake of feeling good, what a wise creature she is.

Some of Josie’s favorite playtime activities are playing with an empty bag or box. She doesn’t check her daytimer to see if she has scheduled in a play session, she just does it. She doesn’t seem to keep a to-do list either. I don’t see how she ever gets anything done. But she is on top of her busy schedule, even now managing to chew a rubber band, fling it, chase it, and chew it again as I write this. I am intrigued by her attitude of simple, unfettered pleasure; playfulness and delight without contemplation.

Another of Josie’s admirable habits would have to be her extreme care with personal hygiene. Now I enjoy a good bath as much as the next person, but Josie has made a ritual out of bathing. She participates in these baths frequently and is especially careful to wash her paws after eating. I believe that she is a bit vain but she can’t help it, she just is. Her vanity is pure and she is totally unselfconscious about her beauty, secure that it is far beyond anything that Sam or I could possibly experience. I envy her self-acceptance and her genuine self-appreciation.

Supreme upon her perch on top of the china hutch next to the Father Time doll, Josie believes innately that she is queen. Sam and I are her loyal subjects. She never doubts for a second that we will be there to serve her; she just trusts completely that we are. She never stops to think that maybe I don’t want her to climb on my head right now, or I may not want her drinking milk out of my glass. She only knows that she has every right to whatever it is she desires and she believes that she is always wanted. By so believing she has unconsciously drenched herself in unconditional love.

Josie feels no guilt in expressing her needs and following the beat of her own little internal drummer. She would never dream of letting anyone impose an unwanted expression upon her. She is immediate and sure when she lets you know:

“No, I don’t want to be held”
smack, paw in your face

“No, I don’t want to go to sleep”
runs as fast as she can under any surface where you can’t reach her

“No, I’m not ready to play”
bites your fingers and squawks like she’s dying

Josie, Sam and I want to thank you for the joy you’ve brought to us, for the love you so freely give--when you’re in the mood, and for your honest spirit as you’re always true to your nature.

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