I watch my cat Sheldon snoozing peacefully on the bed. He’s worn out after several hours exploring outside. His sharp black and white coat blends in with the black and white pattern of the blanket he’s splayed out on. It’s a good time for a photo, while he’s like this, because when he’s awake, he’s never still long enough to get his picture. I press the camera button on my phone but before I hear the snap and see the flash, he’s already up, peering at me with one eye, obviously annoyed I’ve woken him.
I woke up before dawn this morning because he was walking on my face, trilling loudly for attention. He was hungry, so I gave him some kibble. After he ate, he was still restless and made a beeline for the door. I don’t like letting him out at night, but the sky was a dark indigo blue, indicating the sun would be up within an hour. So I opened the door and off he ran.
I watched him as he stalked through the morning-damp grass. The “stalk walk” is a walk he reserves for the Great Outdoors. Sheldon’s a terrible hunter. He would never survive on his own if had to, but he likes to pretend he’s king of the jungle. The only thing he ever killed was a moth, and only because the moth was already half dead and twitching on the floor when he found it. I remember he batted it around for a bit, like a cheap cat toy, and when it stopped moving, he looked up at me imploringly. “Mrow?” he asked.
Sheldon can go on pretending he’s a badass, and I’ll keep pretending he is exactly that, every time he straggles back in the house after one of his jaunts. I’ll keep rewarding him with catnip, a rub on the belly, a scratch under the chin, or a bowl of Friskies.
I envy him sometimes. He is mindful by nature. He doesn’t worry. He doesn’t fret about the future or have regrets about the past. His needs are simple: a warm bed in a dark room, a full belly, a corrugated cardboard scratching pad, the occasional catnip treat, a rub on the belly, a beam of moving light he can chase, a catnap that lasts most of the day, the freedom to explore. He’s never worry about death or age, healthcare or taxes. His needs are few and all will be fulfilled as if by magic. He has no responsibilities but he gives back so much. When I watch him sleep, play, or stalk his imaginary prey in the jungle of my backyard, I feel at peace. I feel like the world is still a good place.