“Why are you wet?” I recently asked my cat, Jazz, when I returned home from Curacao.
She’s prissy, so I knew she hadn’t peed herself or taken a sip from the toilet and fallen in. Was she sweating? Do cats sweat?
Por que estas mojado gato? I asked again in the soft Spanish that sometimes rubs off on me in foreign lands. It was too late, I was too jet-lagged, but I had to know.
She had been circling and rubbing against me like I was back from the dead, but stopped to let her green eyes curiously search my face. As I stroked her damp fur, I wondered if her wetness was the sort of acting out the vet warned she would engage in while I was away.
I soul-gazed her back and tried to read her little feline mind:
What do you mean, why am I wet? Where were you?!!!
I missed you, missed you, missed you!!!
Pet me, pet me, pet me.
Did you know that a tall, blonde lady has a house key and she scared me? She left food though, so that was cool.
I took good care of myself. See how clean I am?
Then, it hit me. This intuitive feeling from her of I did not know what the hell was going on, but I was anxious.
Jazz is not a drama queen. Not one of those mischievous unroll-the-toilet-paper and scratch-up-the-house kind of cats. She doesn’t spray, attack guests or run amuck. So when I heard that lovely, happy hum of her deep-throat purring, I remembered what she does when on edge. Hide and over-groom.
My friend Shelley, aka – the tall blonde who dutifully checked in on Jazz, verified that her food bowl was empty and litter box full, but she only got an audience with her the day I flew back, and I laughed at the pictures during my Miami layover. In the one, Jazz, crouched behind her favorite stuffed chair, looks like she is about to be skewered and grilled. Eyes wide and panicked, squatted down low. In the next one, she was either sweet-talked into submission or temporarily blinded by the camera-flash, because she warily accepted a scratch under the chin.
None of this surprised me. Jazz is suspicious of everyone and everything, and if I come around the corner too fast, she is ready to run. “Think about it,” is what I say to get her to consider whether she should be in flight mode so often. But then I am not entirely certain she knows where she is or what is going on most of the time.
She is, however, quite firm on her default stress routine to pamper herself to a better place. For me, it is often bubble baths or trips to the beach. Something to do with water. So I am often wet too. I thought about that, shrugged and settled down for a long petting session.
What did you do while I was gone? I asked and again imagined her answers: Ate, slept, watched birds outside, hid from the tall blonde, over-groomed, and waited for you to come home. Pet me, pet me, pet me.