I didn't see it coming. Didn't even fathom it because I, myself, have always been a dog person: I grew up with a dog, I worked at a dog academy, I adopt pitbulls... I am a dog person. Bear is a dog lover, but he is much much more a Cat Person. I am certain it stems from this.
Cat or dog, he shows a special affinity for shelter animals and an awareness of why in our family, we chose to adopt when looking to add a furry friend to our home. No new family member has been adopted just yet, but we do enjoy visiting the shelter regularly.
When Bear had his birthday, he requested that the guests bring items for the shelter. He was so pleased with all that his guests brought and took great pride in hauling the donations into the shelter. That day a connection was made for him
when he realized his small, but important gesture was going to help his beloved cats.
He pulled my hand in to the cat community room and announced to all the felines that he had brought them dinner. Then he beamed and stood quiet for a moment. I'm telling you, a split second later five of the more personable cats came running to rub against his legs. He slowly bent down to pet them and speak to them in low tones full of syllables I could not understand. Those cats followed him around the whole time he was there.
It is beyond difficult to take pictures of moving cats. Couple that with a baby in a side sling and a euphoric, cat whispering 4 year old and you might understand why most of my pictures from the day were like the one above. As fleeting as the cats were to my camera lens, the impact they had and continue to have on Bear is indelible.
Since this visit we've been back many a time. Sometimes bringing kibble, always bringing attention and affection from Bear. It's quite a symbiotic relationship he shares with those cats: they give him the love and purrs and snuggly head bumps he can't get enough of, and they give him the ability to see that one small act of giving can have rippling effects. He gives them a willing and respectful recipient of their need to act as if they are in our living room, simply playing with the little boy of the family.
My heart goes out to all the animals at the shelter making the best of their situation without a peep- they have certainly taught me something about gratitude. Don't ask me if we are getting a cat. We barely have begun to start the process to find a dog brother or sister for Trot. There are many many reasons I could cite as to why we do not need a cat, but that is not what this post is about.
I don't ruminate on my feline allergies, or how guests would handle a cat in our house when we are in the community room. I look at Bear navigating in and out of the play area and yard with his pied piper following of felines. With ease he moves about giving this one a toy mouse, that one a scratch between the ears. To the big tabby male glaring down at him from above, he sends a smile and the words "enjoy your nap"- at four he knows to not even think about touching that tomcat. Where in the world did he gain that knowledge? Certainly not from me. I believe immersion in the animal language