Saturday, March 6, 2010

Say the Magic Number

A recent headline on the cover of People magazine asks: “How Many Kids Is Too Many?”

I find that I am asking myself the same question in relation to our feline family, particularly as I contemplate the fate of Saint, the sweet cat whom I rescued nearly two weeks ago. Saint is still without a permanent home, although the always wonderful Dr. O. and her veterinary staff are doing a terrific job of helping Saint to feel safe and protected, even if that experience is transmitted via a small, crate-size space.

Would adopting Saint "ruin" my magic number at home? I could add a litter box easily, and there is room for Saint at the table, so to speak: I could buy an extra set of food and water bowls for her so that she does not have to share with the others. But introducing a five-year-old cat to a residence consisting of six senior cats, with the oldest being certifiably psychotic, and the only female classified as a diva, may make our hard-earned harmony disappear.

In my professional career as an editor, I am accustomed to cutting and pasting, to realigning and sequencing words and images all day long. There rarely is only one right way of approaching an assignment, which is among the many reasons why the work is challenging. At home, I can’t simply rearrange the cats. They are not pawns in a game, figures on a chessboard. They are living creatures whose feelings, routines, and needs must be deeply respected. Much as Saint needs a home—and this Cat Lady is determined to find her one—I cannot even think any more about the probable havoc I would wreak by bringing Saint home with me.

What I do know, thankfully, is that I am not consumed by a desire to hoard cats. A new book titled Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, due on the shelves next month, delves into the subject of extreme hoarders. The authors, Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, write that for such people, “intense emotional meaning is attached to so many of their possessions.” For some individuals, this feeling is transposed to animals, and one of the interviewees has 200 cats. Furthermore, a hoarder’s “attention to the details of objects” may indicate “a special form of creativity and appreciation for the aesthetics of everyday things.”

It’s interesting for me to think how my day job, which requires attention to textual and pictorial details, has enhanced my full-time, attention-demanding job of caring for a total of ten cats. Although I never could be accused of hoarding felines, I am guilty of appreciating their infinitely special qualities. It is their life that lights my creative spark.

Query of the Day: Have you reached the “feline ceiling” at home?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but only until we can get a bigger place. Mia is acting out again and we need to either find her another home or move to a larger space.