Last night, I had some trouble falling asleep. Maybe it was the coffee I had at 9pm. Or perhaps it was my hyperactive mind anticipating a trip that I was not looking forward to.
The prospect of feeling uncomfortable and anxious in the morrow was more than enough to keep me from sleep.
“Think of something else, something pleasant!” I told myself.
So I tried to think of something, anything, that might halt the anxious thoughts that were racing through my mind. And I suddenly thought of Milo, my eight-year-old tabby. Milo, who, only a few hours before, was curled up snugly by my side in our living room. And instantly, I relaxed.
The next time my mind churns out of control, I hope that I can dredge from its tangled reserves, a picture of my Milo reclining against me as I lounge at my favourite spot on the living room carpet.
His predictable routine: announcing his approach with some high-pitched mewing, then hovering next to me, checking me out and sniffing at my face – I suppose that’s just his way of making sure that I’m really who I’m supposed to be.
Assured, he would then start cleaning himself a little, and finally with a soft thud, park himself right up close to me. And then, we would doze.
When I wake from my nap, he would still be there, but almost always would have uncurled himself and be lying flat on his back. His paws would be stretched out, his soft underbelly gloriously exposed. Such bliss – for him, and also for me.
The other kitties that have made their way into our lives have also given comfort in a similar way.
Our other cat, Ally Pie, is truly anti-social. Much of her time is spent pretending that we don’t exist, except when we’re having fish for dinner.
That’s when she would climb onto a chair and eye-ball us shamelessly from across the dining table. Sometimes, and completely out of the blue, she would seek me out.
On such precious occasions, she would jump up on me and demand to be stroked, then insist on curling up into an adorable little ball in my lap.
She’s terribly intuitive, too, for she knows exactly when it’s most inconvenient to pull this stunt: always either when I’m finishing my morning coffee and just about to get ready for work, or when I’m actually working on my laptop to meet a deadline.
Over time, I’ve learnt to fight the urge to get up and shoo her away, and this is something I will never regret.
The 10 minutes or so of calm and contentedness that comes from having a warm, furry little one snuggled up in your lap is so worth the consequences of being a few minutes late for work.
Some time ago I wrote about MJ, a skinny and precocious young tabby that had made ours his home for a couple of years, before he was tragically taken away from us in a road accident.
MJ used to look for me in bed at night. He would stealthily make his way up my side, manoeuvre himself in the crook of my arm, and then rest his head on my shoulder.
I used to feign irritation every time he did this, but secretly I looked forward to it, for I would always sleep easy with his little head next to mine. Oh, I do miss our MJ dearly!
They all have their own antics. Milo, for instance, is terrified of humans, other than myself and the husband of course. He will magically go Poof! at the first sign of any visitor.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if people secretly suspected that we had an imaginary cat because no one else ever seemed to see him.
He’s getting on in years, yet often acts like a little kitten still, nipping at our heels and chasing bits of fluff across the hall. He also has a slightly worrying fetish for feather dusters!
Unlike Milo, Ally Pie simply adores having other humans around. Especially if they’re male. Oh, yes, she’s a true femme fatale!
When there are no visitors, however, she can go to sleep for ages. She would lie in one position, completely unresponsive, like she’s comatose.
The neighbours can attest to this, as I’m often heard wearily crying out, “Ally, are you dead?”
There’s certainly no shortage of kitty stories; some will make you cringe and others might even put you off having pets altogether.
But when you’ve had a particularly rough day, few things can beat the feeling you get when you see your cat (anti-social or otherwise) waiting for you to walk in through the front door.
The next time you need a laugh, try checking out kitty (or even doggie) videos on the Internet.
Need a little boost? Spend just five minutes with a kitten and your heart will warm right up, for sure.
And when you’re feeling blue, I promise that a soft furry cuddle is really the only thing you need to make the world seem like a better place again.