Sagacious Sassy: Lessons From a Beloved Feline
Glenna, my paternal grandmother, is a big-hearted, beautiful soul. Not only does she care for many people, she’s also become unapologetically attached to Sassy, her seven-year-old cat. Sassy, with her well-fed body and silky white fur, routinely regards me with suspicion whenever I visit. Her devotion to Grandma Glenna, in contrast, is another matter altogether. Repeatedly, I’ve watched Sassy perch on her owner’s lap and gaze adoringly, almost amorously, at her. This spectacle has inspired me to jest that no man has ever looked at me so rapturously. I might, truth be told, become unnerved and concerned if one even did.
Sassy, like many of God’s creatures, can (and potentially should) teach us about the art of living. She, akin to all other cats I’ve known, recognizes the value of sleep. I’m uncertain precisely how much she sleeps, yet rarely will one of my visits conclude before I’ve witnessed Sassy slumbering. Unlike most adult humans, myself included, she is not remotely nervous about unfinished tasks. Instead, on locations ranging from Grandma’s bed to the corner of her laundry closet, Sassy sleeps. I’ve inadvertently awoken her upon arrival, and, with a disdainful look—it’s almost as if she’s saying, “I did not invite you to my castle; you are unwelcome here”—she surveys me warily before resuming her siesta.
As an unremorsefully skeptical creature—I genuinely pity anyone convinced they’ll be able to convert me to believe most anything—I appreciate Sassy’s unbelieving stance. Unlike certain canines, she does not enthusiastically respond to visitors. Instead, even if it is my second visit in a week, she’ll gaze guardedly at me before deciding if I am worthy of her affection. There is an upside to this behavior: Once I’ve passed her inspection, she’ll occasionally lavish attention on me. Her affability, since it isn’t instantly or reliably acquired, is subsequently invaluable.
Her understated curiosity inspires me. Whenever something new—a blanket, jigsaw puzzle, person, etc.—arrives, Sassy will, if awake, saunter over—and, since she isn’t a slender creature, this isn’t a graceful traverse—to investigate. Mere days after Grandma Glenna received an extra soft lap blanket from my mother, it was fully covered with Sassy’s fur. She wasn’t, unlike more impatient, fickle creatures, content to examine it only once or twice. Eventually, true to form, she lost interest and found other places to rest.
Grandma has a maroon-colored easy chair which Sassy likes to perch on top of. From this vantage point, she can stare out of the large west-facing windows. What exactly she’s looking for and/or at I cannot say, yet she can clearly appreciate a view. As a seasoned hiker and backpacker, this is a practice I am also well-versed in. Even if natural wonders aren’t available, I savor seeing what is occurring outside my living space.
Despite being a self-proclaimed “dog person,” I’m intrigued by Sassy’s stoicism. Enthusiastic she is not; effusive behavior does not become her. Despite having invaded “her” living space time and time again, I don’t know if I’ve ever received a particularly warm welcome. Instead, presuming she isn’t asleep underneath Grandma’s bed, she’ll offer me a discerning look before deciding if I am allowed to pet her. Sometimes she’ll accept petting despite my intuitive sense that she’s merely humoring me. She doesn’t, not surprisingly, need me to validate her existence. Her confidence and/or self-worth doesn’t hinge on whether she receives my approval, praise, or attention. Given I cannot always (or at least easily) achieve such self-containment in my human relationships, I admire this quality. It inspires me to question whether if, albeit sporadically, acting more like Sassy would improve my life. Any interest in joining me?