Tyrone, My Main Man

Cats and the meaning of life

I’m lying on my bed, with Tyrone, my long-haired domestic feline, sprawled across my chest. I know that the moment I make a move, he’ll jump off and find a different spot to snooze. They do that a lot, cats. Sometimes I need to go searching for Tyrone: I know he’s in the house but won’t come out when called. Then I’ll find him behind the couch in my office, or on a ratty old towel behind the bathroom door. My dog KD , a 7 year old Pit/Chocolate Lab/Who-knows-what-else, isn’t like that. She has one or two preferred spots and that’s it. Dogs are conservative and adhere to strict routines. Cats are hooligans. They don’t give a crap about where YOU would prefer them to be. So when Tyrone happily snoozes on my chest, I can’t move an inch. Because having a sleepy purring cat on your chest is really close to nirvana. Tyrone has a weird purr. He had a throat injury when he was a young, feisty swamp cat and is left with permanent hoarseness. A little scary – if you’re not aware of his background, his purr can sound like a death rattle. But I do know about his early warring days and so his weird purr is just funny and endearing.

Here’s the thing, though: I have work to do, emails to write, music projects to complete, articles and translation assignments waiting on my desk. Yes, those things must be done. They simply must. Time is of the essence. After all, there are deadlines, people waiting, reminder texts on my phone…I must press on.

Tyrone came to us five years ago. He was a Florida swamp cat. He hung out across from our condo, at the edge of a retention pond and waited for my wife to feed him daily at 2pm. He was scruffy, scratched and scarred, with tufts of hair missing, obviously a veteran of many a cat, racoon and possum war. Having been a dog person all my life, I felt no special affinity to cats but seeing the love my wife was showering on this little guy made me take a second look. After a few weeks of being fed at the edge of the retention pond, the black shaggy cat started stealing onto our patio. He would lick his bowl clean, find a corner to snooze in and sometimes stayed the night. The Rubicon had been crossed. He was now our cat. I chose the name Tyrone: a strong name for a street thug. Tyrone had been in many fights and would undoubtedly have been in many more if he hadn’t adopted us. He remains a fighter, alert and primed to take on all comers. You can pet him — but only for a few seconds. Do not touch his sensitive *murder button*. He is fiercely territorial and will swipe at any cat passing by the house: Tyrone is an inside cat with outdoor privileges, so he often guards our back door where other felines occasionally parade by. I have come to love my little goon. Like cats often will, he sometimes disappears for a day, even two, and we are sick with worry. Only then do I realize how attached I am to the rascal.

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Because he allows himself to give love so seldom, it’s a real treat to have him lie on my chest, snoozing, snoring away. Tyrone keeps purring, occasionally stretching his paws “making biscuits, kneading dough”, now and again he opens his left eye and checks me out. I’m lying motionless, getting quite sleepy myself. Must I get up? Can’t the projects wait? Just a few hours, heck, perhaps even a day or two? How important are all the “must do’s”? Perhaps, just perhaps, a sleeping cat on my chest, his slow and steady purr sending blissful, calm vibrations throughout my body, making me feel like I’m floating on a cloud with no destination, perhaps that is more important than all the “can’t wait” assignments on my desk? Is having no goal equal to having one in the grand scheme of things? No place to be, no people to call, no destination? Who knows what the “grand scheme of things” really is, anyway. Perhaps we can traverse some parts of our existence on this planet, and find more meaning in the universe, with a furry feline napping on our chest.