It’s 5 am.

What in the hell am I doing up?

My formerly feral cats, Jack and Joe, are brothers. Through masterful scheming and tricking, I trapped them both in August 2012 and took them to a veterinarian for neutering and the requisite shots. They were about a year old, according to the attending vet’s best estimate, who thought they are almost certainly brothers. Somehow they had managed to stay together out in the neighborhood feral colony after leaving the litter. That day at the clinic, they were wild things, and petrified, but the job got done. Today they’re tamer and enjoy being petted, but still very human-shy except for me and my husband.

They come inside for breakfast every morning at 5:00 am. And I mean every single damn morning. They get their wet food then, to which they’ve become addicted, an addiction I purposely cultivated. The reason is because they must be in the house regularly in case I need to bring them in to the vet again, for their rabies or other shot, or if one has an injury, and for their flea-tick-earmite medication, and whatever. Outside, I don’t have a chance of catching them. So there I am, in the wee hours, often wondering “What in the *)#@%! was I thinking?!”

The other morning, exhausted after not sleeping well, I was buried in regret. But in my sleepy fog of self-pity and resentment, as I listened to the sounds of wet food being slurped I realized they’ve enhanced my life immeasurably. Five am is now when I do my spiritual reading, and meditate, and generally get myself centered and grounded to meet the coming day. It’s a very real need for me, and except for the rare morning that I’m exhausted or not well, it has become a lovely interlude. When they came into my life I was newly retired and feeling isolated and unmotivated and rudderless. I had trouble getting out of bed. I was a lonely empty nester. Now my precious morning time, while they eat wet food and I read and meditate and write in my journal, has given me a new outlook and a different, deeper perspective on life. Never a joiner, always a loner, I now belong to a church and a writers group, and I do some volunteering. My life is fuller and richer. And I even get all the sleep I need. I’ve learned to spot tucked-away places around me when I’m out and about where, sitting up, I can take very short naps. The front seat of my car, which is usually not far from me, is a prime spot for these mini-rests. It’s ironic that they are, most aptly, called catnaps.  

Realizing how much Jack and Jose have changed my life for the better, I now discern the profound spiritual truth about this situation: when cats take over your life, as they so often do, it’s always for a reason.  

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