Friday, March 21, 2014

Learning Lessons Taught By a Cat

So, one thing that came with the house we bought last December, is a cat. She's an outside cat, her name is Sam (Sammy, Sammy Kitty, Kitty, etc.), she's gentle and has so far been a fairly delightful pet.

One annoying thing: cat sounds at night.

Last night was one such night. The yowling (no way does "meow" begin to cover the sound) was becoming sustained and ridiculous. There are doors to our deck in our bedroom. Sam sleeps in a little house right outside our bedroom.

My thought process went something like this:

A. We have a cat that lives on our deck.
B. There are cat sounds coming from our deck.

If A & B are both true (they are), then our cat is being annoying.
Logical conclusion: yell at cat to knock it off.

So I opened the door and scolded our cat (I did not yell, because: neighbors.)

I believe I said something like this, in my sternest voice (and trust me, I can do stern): "Sammy! Knock it off!"

Then my silent cat jumped down from her perch on our deck furniture and ran over to me. And I noticed another furry body on our deck, with eyes gleaming at me in the darkness.

I had scolded the wrong cat.

Some cat that didn't belong on our deck was there, howling at our cat. Our cat, being the gentle and, it must be said, fraidy-cat  that she is, was avoiding this intruder. (And before you jump to another logical conclusion, let me assure you that our cat is "fixed" and no, there will not be any Sammy Babies running around our deck.)

Philip had to come help me encourage the intruding cat to leave the premises. (Hey, it was night time and I was ready for bed. I had only intended to scold a cat, not chase one.)

Now, 12+ years of parenting have prepared me to learn some humbling lessons from my children. This was one of the first instances of learning a lesson from my pet.

The logic was sound. The conclusion was valid.

And yet, I got it wrong. There was an unknown quantity, this time in the form of a rogue, unexpected feline.

But how often do I get it wrong in other, non-cat related ways? I'm an INTJ or ISTJ personality type. I like logic and order. (I also over-think everything, but that can be a positive if it sometimes results in a blogpost. Ahem.) I like conclusions and answers and certainty.

There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily. But it could become wrong. Because, alas, I do not know everything. I don't understand everyone's motivation. There are factors I haven't counted.

Lately, there have been some issues bugging me. They've nagged at my brain and taken up space. I've thought about them too much. I'm trying to wrestle out conclusions and, here's the part it's hard for me to accept: there may not be a logical conclusion to some of these issues. There may be an unexpected cat. Then there's the possibility that in some of these instances, my part might be the unexpected cat for other people involved.

I'm all for applying logic. I think our world would be greatly improved if some folks could engage their logical thinking skills and give their feelings (sing with me now: "FEEEEEEELIIIIIIINGS!") a break.

But maybe, in our dealings with each other, we can show grace. We can save the stern dressing down for later, or never. We can assume that there is something we don't know, something we don't see, something we haven't encountered before, and therefore proceed with the caution and kindness we hope others will show us.

I didn't exactly apologize to Sammy. She is, after all, a cat. But you can be sure I'll check next time before I start scolding her. There may just be another cat.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. Proverbs 15:1-2 KJV

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