October 5, 2011 by Zuri
I am a total cat person. I have two cats right now, named Vyvyan and Gaz, both girls. Vyvyan is a large, adorable tuxedo cat, kinda tubby, who is lazy and unplayful. She has almost never used a toy that I’ve seen, and spends her days sleeping and eating. She’s not the one who we’re here to discuss. Today, we’re going to discuss Gaz.
Gaz is a cute and tiny little tabby, and has an unfortunate habit at the moment. She’s about 2.5 years old, and hasn’t been spayed, which means every couple weeks, she goes into heat. That comes of course with all the yowling and rolling around and rubbing on everyone and everything in sight that heat brings on in a cat. She also has one more habit that makes her almost intolerable to be around – marking. She whizzles on anything that’s not nailed down, leaving me to follow around in her wake and clean up the mess. She’s creative, too! Her favourites tend to be things like bowls, or pots and pans – anything that she can climb into (or barely climb into). Recent marking expeditions have been things like the microwave, the kitchen counter and even my new netbook (thank goodness it was closed at the time!).
I know once we get her spayed, the behaviour should stop. Vyvyan used to do the same thing until she was spayed. We’re hoping to get that handled soon. In the mean time, I have to keep from having screaming fits every time I see that little striped tail raise in the air and wiggle near the furniture or our possessions. I can’t believe how angry I get at her every time I see her do it, mostly because I get sick of running out of cleaning spray and toilet paper cleaning up after her little messes. I know it’s part of the responsibility of being a pet owner, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it ALL the time.
It occurred to me today, in turning to the wisdom of the Buddha, that I need to look past my anger. It’s not helping anyone when I scream, as it only makes me upset and sick, and confuses Gaz. She can’t help what she’s doing, to her, it’s just an instinct. Yelling or getting angry won’t change the behaviour in the slightest. I need to radically accept that this is, for the moment, a behaviour that I can’t change in her, and accept her Buddha nature.
Gaz’s Buddha nature is her potential for enlightenment. It is the Buddha within her, as all living things have a Buddha nature. It may not be in this lifetime, or the next, but she does have that inherent potential to transcend suffering to Nirvana. It may sound silly, but I need to learn to look past her actions that anger me and see the transcendent Buddha being inside her. She may have behaviours that cause me to react negatively, but she’s also an intense cuddlebug when she wants to be. Most nights she sleeps on my chest, curled up next to me, or on my pillow next to my head. We play games together, like fetch. She’s kept me company through a lot of difficult times, and I adore her for the joyful things she’s brought to my life. Gaz doesn’t need to be aware of the Buddha within her, so long as I can remember to keep looking for it in those times where our relationship may be a bit on the strained side.
At the moment, things are quiet, as she is curled up in a chair nearby, her little peanut head inverted in sleep. I’ll take the peaceful moments as I can get them, when she’s in heat, they are few and far between. When she wakes up, I’ll try to remind myself again about the Dharma and the light of the Buddha within her, with cleanser and toilet paper in hand.