Let me start by saying that this is not a blog about cats versus dogs. Our society is so set up for comparisons and black-and-white thinking that it’s easy to assume that writing about cats is somehow anti-dog, which this is not. I love dogs, too. But this is about my particular, adorable kitties who I love.

There are two kittens living in my house…Leilani is my princess and Sora is her brother and my son’s cat. Sora and Christopher will eventually leave us for their own digs, but for now, we are all under one roof. So at times, I refer to my cat and at times my two cats.

And, damn, I love these cats! They joined our family in September and have brought love and joy to the entire household (yes, even my husband who was against cats for years). So this is my first observation about the lovability of kitten…they are little packages of joy. As babies, they are cute beyond description, so there is joy in just looking at their little faces. Yet they also exude joy in their daily existence. They run and jump and wrestle just because they love being alive. A piece of string is endlessly entertaining. Christmas boxes and wrap…wow! A ball with a bell, a stray ice cube dropped on the floor, a hair tie…unbelievable fun.

Another thing I love about my cats is their innate intelligence. They are ridiculously smart, watching and learning and exploring constantly. They are curious, of course, and I love watching them investigate a new room or closet or open drawer or cabinet or box or empty bag. They know who to ask for what…who’s most likely to pet them or play with them, who will give them food or a treat. They want to read when I have an open book in my lap and they want to know what I’m working on when I have my computer open (although they pretty much just like the warmth of the keyboard). They hate not being allowed on the kitchen table to play with the dice or cards or game pieces with which we are playing.

These traits are important to me. Joy and intelligence matter to me and are values I actively pursue in my own life. It’s the reason dolphins have always been my favorite animal—that pairing of joy and intelligence. I am curious. I seek out knowledge. I also have a lot of fun. I get stressed and overwhelmed and can get caught up in focusing on what I’m missing out on rather than all that I have…but at my core, I have a sense of joy and wonder in the world, as do my sweet kitties. Watching them reminds me of the rich, full life that comes from embracing joy and knowledge.

In other ways, my cats demonstrate qualities I wish I embodied more. For example, they are completely their own beings. They do what they want, and if that aligns with what I want, that’s great for me, but it’s purely coincidental. Leilani will lay and cuddle with me, but not if I pick her up and put her on my lap. Only if she chooses to do so. I love that about her. She’s in no way caught up in trying to please me or anyone else. I will admit that is a quality I find annoying about dogs…the constant pleasing stresses me out because I can be like that, too. Dogs remind me of my own neediness and make me feel guilty when I don’t pay them enough attention. I like that Leilani does Leilani. Sora does Sora. It gives them freedom and power and pride in their spirit and soul. I would love to be just a little more like that. I’m working on it!

I also love that they are sensual beings. Not sexual, but sensual, pulling me into my body. My best mornings start with Leilani climbing into bed with me, cuddling up under my chin while I pet her and she purrs and purrs. She’s so physically comfortable and content, she makes me feel that way too. The sound of her purring. Her soft skin against my cheek and neck. Her scratchy little tongue exfoliating my face when she is particularly loving. The warmth of her tiny body against mine. And that beautiful little face! Utter bliss, and I feel it in my body. Cats are all about the body. Those big, yoga-inspiring stretches. The way the two of them cuddle up together, lick themselves and each other, their love of a good spot of sun in which to bask. The constant scratching, which is bad for my furniture, but feels so good to them.

These little sweethearts have filled our home with warmth and love and have definitely helped us stay sane during this last half of COVID. Being stuck at home is infinitely more bearable with them here.