Friday, July 22, 2011
Do you believe that animals are capable of compassion? Do they have a soul? One of the many pastors in my life told me that there will be no animals in heaven because they were soulless and this distressed me to no end. My idea of heaven includes every cat I every loved curled up around me. Yesterday I read an interesting article in the Shambhala Sun called Creature Comforts in which the the author talked about animals in her life that had comforted her and others, and I started thinking about two of my favorite cats.
Matthew was a lover. He had a purr as big as a lion, and all 18 pounds of him was muscle - he was a BIG cat. He used to eat yogurt with me in the morning and greet me at the door when I came home - some of my friends said he was a puppy-kitty because he acted so much like a dog. I am a frequent migraine sufferer as many of you know, and the first time I had a migraine after adopting Matthew he did something that no cat had done before or since. He carefully positioned all 18 pounds of himself around the top of my head and started purring. It was a softer purring than he usually did. Occasionally, seemingly right after a surge of pain, he'd lick my cheek. Every time I had a migraine he was there, even if he had been missing all day. And you know, I think he helped me; my headaches always seemed to go away faster with less medication. I miss that sweet cat.
If any animal ever had a soul, it was Ollie. He was a scruffy mix of every sort of cat imaginable and not the prettiest cat you'd ever see, but the first time I opened his cage at the Humane Society he jumped right into my arms, looked in my eyes, and became one of the great loves of my life. He would frequently sit with me and respond to me with chirps and meows when I was talking to myself, joined in the conversations that I had with my friends, and liked to put his paw on your hand and just sit, quiet and contemplative. He slept on my chest every night and unlike Matthew, he weighed nothing, so I barely even noticed he was there. However, the day that I had the auto accident that bruised all of my ribs and left me limping from a severely sprained hip joint he found the one spot on my body that didn't hurt to snuggle up against, my right shoulder. When the pain meds made me have nightmares and I woke disoriented, he put his paw on my forehead and chirped and talked until I was aware again. He made it his job to watch over me, even walking beside me as I carefully hobbled about, meowing if it seemed I would lose my footing. And the day that my chest felt better, he resumed his normal position, head by mine, softly purring through the night.
What are your animal compassion stories? I know that there are hundreds, if not millions, out there; please share them!