Sunday, June 2, 2002


God, I love this cat.

I suppose, like any love, it is hard to justify rationally. Most people see a fat orange cat of moderate feline beauty. But she is inhabited by such an active intelligence and out-going personality, she lights up my life.

There was a time, after Kisa died, that I thought no other cat could be such a close companion as she was. It is still hard for me to write about Kisa, even fourteen years after her death, because it reminds me of how much I miss her and how special our love was.

In the years following Kisa's death--beginning a scant week later--other cats trickled into my life as I sought solace from missing her. No living thing can take the place of another. All it can do is provide a distraction while it finds its own place in your heart. So Johnny and Newt and Toby and the others found their way to us. I loved them and cared for them but none shared the special closeness of spirit that I had with Kisa. Until that day in October 1994 when a orange scrap of a kitten ended up at the Animal Shelter.

Punkin could not be more different from Kisa. Where Kisa was shy and inobtrusive, Punkin craves to be the center of attention. She has never met a stranger. Kisa was quiet and subtle. Punkin is not. Yet she touches the part of me that had been barren and still after Kisa died. She has become another darling companion.

As I write this, she is in the cat tree a foot-and-a-half from my shoulder, watching me with her bright, leaf-green eyes. When I turn my head to look at her, she searches my face and then meows softly. Her face literally lights up when I call her name.

Consider this: humans consider themselves the pinnacle of evolution, forgetful that we share the earth with a startling variety of organisms who have been evolving every bit as long as we have. We spend billions searching the universe for life on other planets, yet often treat the life right here on earth with callous disregard. Scientists are quick to discount any claim for higher intelligence among our cousin-species, as if to acknowledge that we share this planet with other intelligences threatens us in some way.

I think all it threatens are our paradigms.

I suppose if we grant them intelligence, we must also acknowledge their emotions. Perhaps go so far as to invest them with souls. *That* would certain raise serious moral quandaries. Shit, we can't even *prove* that human beings have souls--it seems the most crass arrogance that we are so quick to deny them to other beings.

Seems to me anything capable of love must have a soul.

I know Punkin has a soul--we touch, soul-to-soul, across the gulf of language and intention, every time we make eye contact.