Old, Furry Souls 

Public, meet Ozzy.  This is him when he was about a year old.  The collar was new, the hubby’s idea, and remained on him a total of 1 minute and 42 seconds before he finagled himself out of it.  He was SO not happy about someone treating him like a common cat and trying to lay that ownership shmeil on him.  He didn’t talk to me for three days after that. 

From the moment I looked into those colorless eyes (well, they‘re a sea mist sort of green, but the hue is SO light that they appear almost entirely colorless sometimes), I knew Ozzy was meant for me.  When I say that, I don’t mean that he was just so cute and furry that I had to have him.  No, I mean, I knew without a doubt, he was meant to be in my life.  I knew he was an old soul, because in his eyes, I saw unending depths of wisdom and ageless knowledge.  But he wasn’t just any old soul; he was MY old soul, my life guide, whom I’ve known for many, many lifetimes before this one. 

It was a hellacious April day in ‘99 when Ozzy found me, during a visit to a life friend of mine---a friend that seems to be an important part of my life and one that I will talk about in my next column.  It was awesomely windy out, rainy, and all day, we had had lightning and thunder off and on.  I love it when the weather is like that.  It’s like watching Mother Nature during playtime, lol.  Anyway, I walked out of her house to leave, and there he was waiting for me:  tiny, wet, cold, angry, and up in the branches of one of my friend’s trees, meowing pitifully at me.

My friend, being taller than me, was able to just reach him on her ladder, and brought him down, hissing and pitching a fit.  We took him inside and she handed him to me while she went to fetch a towel to dry him off with.  I turned him around so I could get a good look at him, and he looked right into my eyes, and my first reaction was one of recognition and relief, and I remember saying “THERE you are!!” I have no better way to describe how I felt at that moment than to say it was like finding something that you had never even known was missing, or even existed, but once you found it, you recognized it as yours at once, and that it HAD been missing…gosh, I hope that makes sense to at least some of you, lol.

Anyway, we dried him off, warmed him up, I told my friend his name was Ozzy, he was mine, and I took him home.  That night, he lay on my chest, purring as loud as an outboard motor, and we just looked at each other.  Our mental conversation that night went something along the lines of this:

Me:  “Where have you been?  I’ve been waiting.  You’re late this time, you know.”

Him:  “I was here before; you just weren’t paying attention.  So, I had to go all corporeal on your ass this time…God, I hate the physical world…How long am I going to be stuck in this fur coat?”

Me:  “I dunno.  Barring any problems, most normal, healthy cats live anywhere between 12-20 years, I think.”

Him:  “Oh, that’s just lovely!  12-20 years of licking my own butt, coughing up fur balls, and chasing after small rodents *just* so I could help you out and keep an eye on you…the things I do for you…”

Me:  “I know.  Glad you’re back anyway.”

Him:   “Ditto, kid.”

Ozzy had been in our lives for only 5 months when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.  They say pets know when a woman’s pregnant, because they can hear when the fetus’ heart starts beating.  I don’t know about that, but I do know Ozzy knew I was pregnant, because he became very protective and concerned for me.  He would follow me around almost all day long, and every night, he would sleep in front of my bed.

One particular issue he seemed to have when I was pregnant, was me bathing.  He would NOT let me be around water by myself.  Anytime I took a shower or bath, he HAD to be in the bathroom too, or he would literally claw the door trying to get inside.  If I was taking a bath, he would climb up and sit on the rim of the tub, watching me like a hawk; if I was in the shower, he would get into the shower with me, wait until I turned off the water, and then jump out.  He really hated when I took a shower, because it meant he would get wet, and then have to clean all that fur, and he hated the extra grooming it caused.  Anyway, after I had my daughter, Kaelan, he stopped.  To this day, I don’t know why he had a problem with me being pregnant and around water, but he did.

Besides connecting on an unspoken level, we also talk to each other out loud to some degree.

The first time I realized he could understand what I said to him out loud, he was in my room, bugging me to play with him.  But I was busy going through some old papers, and in jest, I told him, “Why don’t you go play with Joseph?  He’s in the living room watching cartoons.”  Lo and behold, after throwing a displeased look my way, he jumped off the bed, went into the living room, plopped down right next to Joe, and proceeded to rub his head against his leg to get his attention. 

He’s woke up the kids before when I’ve asked them, looked for missing things when I’ve asked, stuff like that.  And, like any normal person, sometimes he’ll do things when I ask, and sometimes he won’t.  If he’s in a pissy mood or tired, he generally won’t.  But, on the average, he’s pretty good about doing what I ask.

When I need to convey a particular feeling to him, such as “I’m feeling scared, I need you”, I’ll think it, more so than say it out loud.  It seems that if it’s a feeling, he understands it, and reacts to it quicker, if I think it instead of say it.

Other people take their dogs for walks in the evenings.  Not me.  I go for a walk, and Ozzy unerringly tags along, every time.  No leashes or collars, and he never walks right beside me; rather, he follows behind me, usually keeping a distance of about 10 feet.  I’ve noticed that if he ever has a particular issue about where we’re going, he’ll let me know.  He’ll stop and meow very loudly, until I turn around or change directions.  And any time I stop moving (to tie my shoe, for example), he will come up to me, circling around me, and rubbing against my legs until I start moving again.

You know, I’ve got pets.

I have a Boxer named Chessie, who is one of the few dogs I’ve ever really, really liked.  I always liked basset hounds, and thought my first dog would be one. Instead, I was stunned to find myself head over heels in love with this Boxer pup, who was the runt of the litter.  As per her breed, she is wicked strong, with muscles bulging here and there, and she is a great watchdog.  She is also the clumsiest, sweetest, and happiest dog I’ve ever met, and I adore her for all those qualities. 

Also, my sister-in-law recently dumped a new kitten off on us in the guise of a birthday present for my daughter. Kaelan promptly named her “Jinkies”, after Velma’s catch phrase on “Scooby Doo”, which she watches almost religiously on Cartoon Network.  I, however, call her simply “Jinx”.  She’s cute, but likes to scrap, scratch, and bite, so not the best cat for kids.  She loves it outside, and has no use for being indoors anymore.

See, I have pets, and that’s what they are---pets.   

But, I’ve never been able to relegate Ozzy to being simply “a pet”.  When I’m feeling in a bad mood, or he’s being a pain in the butt, I might call him “cat”, but it’s meant more as an insult than a fact.  Ozzy cannot simply be labeled as a pet, cat, companion, or animal.  Ozzy is…something else… something ancient, something mystic, something that has been with me since the beginning of, well, me.  I‘m pretty certain that he‘s not always a cat, but the eyes are always the same---the same knowing looks, the same instant recognition.  An old soul, that’s what he is.  And he’s my old soul, meant for me, for always.


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