Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Love this pair almost more than life itself.

Mother knows that the cats don't like her. They cower and even run away from their food if she's in the kitchen. What can I say? They're cats: they're not stupid and capable of assessing people for themselves, but of course she wilfully refuses to see why this is, or to alter her behaviour in any way to improve relations. 

Besides, you simply can't win cats over by constantly approaching them and talking loudly at them. You have to let them come to you. She won't and then, when they (understandably) shun her, she gets angry and huffy and makes it worse.

You also don't win cats, dogs, or for that matter, human beings either, by treating them as nuisances before they even start and by telling them off for every damn thing they do. Whatever these poor cats do is wrong, wherever they go is wrong and they are yelled at (even when they aren't doing anything wrong) instead of being shown, loved and encouraged when they do good things.

Suddenly realised that's exactly how she’s treated me as a child and all my life.

Most rooms are kept closed to them, because she's decided they'll cause destruction and mayhem – that's more likely if they're kept to a very confined space and not allowed to explore. If a door is temporarily left open and they merely go for a harmless sniff round, they're immediately meet with a loud, hostile and panicky reaction that – naturally – spooks them even more.

The clearest example is whenever mother hears the sound of a cat scratching. She doesn't think to check - just in case - that the cat is actually scratching where it should be scratching, in the litter box (the sound is different, but she cannot discern this), so she immediately screams (yes, screams), “Oy, oy, oy”.

Just what is that teaching the confused cats? The damage is done and she simply will not be told that this is wrong. To her fantasy logic, this telling off is justified and brushed off as unimportant, because at other times the cat is wrong.  

Today, she was rattling dishes she was taking out of the dishwasher, which she knows worries the cats and sends them running to hide. She also knew I was outside with both cats, because she'd watched me go out with them. She's seen this enough times that she knows they're already nervous enough about it. So she chose that very moment to do this job – at best, totally unthinking and a typical example of how, what she wants, she does, disregarding everything else.

Because of this, the cats got even more nervous. I've worked bloody hard – with calm and patience, love and encouragement - for 11 months, trying to get them to feel comfortable enough so that, at the very least, if they were outside and did not feel happy, their instinctive reaction should be to run INTO the house and not to bolt away from it, but we never seem to make real progress.

The eventual aim (though, truthfully, I give up on ever attaining it now) was to be able to let them go out so that they could get some exercise and play and be normal and, hopefully, happy cats. But every time they seem to be getting used to it, mother does something (thoughtless or deliberate?), which effectively wipes out all of the benefit of the months and months of hard work I've put in.

You're going to say it isn't deliberate, but I've been making that excuse for her for 52 years and it just doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of logic and reason. (And in typing that last exasperated sentence, I can hear my father talking.) 

So, instead of coming towards the house and happily coming in the door, Balu heard the noise and started backing up, trying to escape his harness. Because I had both cats, this was difficult to handle and I had to act quickly and decisively: I threw my voice so that I would be heard clearly – for the very good reason that my mother cannot hear her TV unless it's blaring (so loudly I can still hear it the other side of the house, through 2 closed doors and with headphones) and cannot hear things like the doorbell or the phone, unless they're next to her, etc.

But, of course, if I merely enunciate clearly, apparently, I'm shouting.

I'd had to get her to stop making the noise with the dishes for a moment to get the cats in – and I had to quickly impress upon her that it had to be immediate – which, without an assertive tone, she would have paid absolutely no attention to at all and would most likely (based on previous experience) have argued it unnecessary - specifying it was because I could not get the cats to come in and one was trying to pull out of his harness. She understands the implication.  

She damn well knew all of this without me saying a word.

But instead of quiet and swift (in)action, what I got back, was an argument and a bloody diatribe. I was snapped at and told not to shout. It was needed. Of course, she claimed she was right. She argued that she'd stopped making the noise, but, of course, she'd replaced it with the noise and stress of arguing instead.

I was lucky this time, as I managed to get both cats in without too much more upset, but this was the third time recently that she's done something similar that she knows will upset them; coming to the door just as we're approaching; coming out into the garden for no reason just as we're heading back, all three times when I have both cats out together, which she knows is harder than one.

Coincidences? Well, I have never believed in those. 

Ignorantly thoughtless or wilfully malicious? I'll let the jury decide.

Whatever it is, it means I can no longer risk taking the cats out when she's at home. And it is breaking my heart that they are stressed unnecessarily.