Zoe, our ten-year-old calico cat, is monumentally unbothered by the pandemic. She lives in an alternate universe where, so long as food miraculously appears at 7 am, noon, and 5 pm, all is well. When the spirit moves her, she goes outside. In the evening she’ll decide whether to make a night of it or stay in my home office instead. Weather is generally a consideration. Wind and thunder are big deterrents. During the day she’ll find just the right spot in the house to take an extended nap. Sometimes, though, she’ll go out, even if she’s already been out all night. She catches the occasional bunny in the interest of keeping their overweening population in check. She’s nothing if not environmentally conscious.
She is also helpful in various ways around the house. She’ll choose one of our housemates to honor with a visit. This could be doing full lotus on their bed while they work at their desk or, should they be sitting in the living room, initiating a warming campout on their lap. The chosen housemate will generally reciprocate by petting her into louder or softer purrs. She helps in the process by showing just where she likes to be petted and will clearly communicate when it is too much or too little, too gentle or too intense. Who said cats can’t talk?
A linguist, she and I often communicate in German. Why? Well, my late first wife, who was German from the old country, introduced me to the pleasures and responsibilities of living with cats. And since we spoke German at home, it was natural for us to communicate with our furry housemates in that language. In consequence, Zoe refers to me as “Opa,” German for Grandpa. And for my part, I call her “Zo-ella.” Impressively, she’s absolutely fluent in the language without benefit of Berlitz. And, I’m guessing, like C3PO in the Star Wars movies, she could do well in all the languages of the galaxy.
She also has medical talents, both of the physical and psychological variety. When I take my blood pressure in the morning, if she’s around, she’ll jump up onto my lap and stay there for the entire procedure. I call her “Dr. Zoe.” Generally, my reading is wonderfully normal when the doctor is on call to take it. Or today, for example, I was suffering from one of my all-too-frequent right-side pulsing headaches. No sooner had I lay down and closed the bedroom door when I heard scratching. It was her, of course. She had sensed my distress and had come to minister to my condition. I opened the door, and up she jumped. She snuggled in next to me and rested her head on my side. Forty-five minutes later, I felt better. No bill, but at precisely 5 pm she came into my office, looked me straight in the eye, and meowed. “Okay, Opa. Time for my dinner!”