by Anna Arnett
The other morning, as I lay half awake, debating whether to go back to sleep or get up, I felt a soft pressure as the household cat walked slowly and deliberately across my body. This was the first time she had chosen to give me a wake-up call. She’s not even my cat, really.
Ten or so years ago, after my granddaughter’s beloved pussy died, Amy was offered a stray cat nobody would claim. Her fur was dark multi-colored, I guess the kind you’d call calico, and I thought no creature could be uglier. She was underfed, with missing chunks of hair on her ears, and her dismal fur so scarce and scraggly it seemed almost wiry. Her greatest attraction, for me, was her almost complete lack of voice. She could meow, but so softly I could not hear her from a distance of ten feet. And, I may add, my hearing was much better ten years ago.
But Amy loved her. She fed her, petted her, slept with her, talked and sang to her. She named her Kiki (or Keekee). And Kiki responded to Amy. Before long she was a ‘fat cat’ with sleek, luxurious fur, and a joy to watch. I might even call her beautiful.
However, a year or so ago two cute little puppies usurped Kiki’s place in Amy’s heart. Kiki did not like their yapping, and withdrew into a world of her own, where she was fed, but ignored. She gravitated to my suite, either coming upstairs or sitting on the deck, looking in through the French doors, while waiting patiently for Charles or me to come let her in. I often tried to hold her on my lap, but she could only tolerate that for a few seconds. She did like to explore our rooms and sleep on our couch.
But just the other morning, she really won my affection. In my drowsiness, I felt her soft nose skimming my face, light as a whisper. I lay on my right side, snuggled beneath a down comforter, my right arm bent upward with my sprained wrist resting on a pillow. Kiki nosed my arm, then proceeded to lick softly, delicately. Her tongue felt small and gentle, with a slightly raspy center. She proceeded licking up to the wrist, paying particular attention to the swollen part. I lay still, in awe of her loving care.
Kiki paused now and then, but went straight back to work. She thoroughly licked my palm, and all my fingers. Then, with her paw laid gently, confidently, on my palm, she proceeded to clean her own fur, with occasional licks at me. I marveled at the softness of the paw’s pads, realizing how carefully her claws were sheathed. I reached my left hand to stroke her, and she licked the tips of those fingers.
I was touched. Never have I felt more cared for by an animal—or felt myself more full of love for God and all His creations. For me, it was a therapeutic moment. It may never happen again, but I feel enriched—a better woman because one old housecat chose to lick