18: Good Vibrations

18: Good Vibrations

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Good Vibrations

I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.

~Mark Twain

Sometimes it feels like there are two major groups of people in this world: those who adore cats and those who hate them. My husband, Harry, however, exists somewhere in the middle. He enjoys snippets of their existence, such as playing with kittens or petting them when he wants. But when it comes to the constant shedding, sharpening claws on furniture or yowling to make their wishes known, well… he has had to learn tolerance. After all, when he fell in love with me it was clear that animals would always be a major part of my life.

One summer morning, I’d gone out to the barn to feed my horses. A low, guttural, eerie wail stood my neck hairs at attention. I found a large, orange and white tomcat lying on the dirt floor. A quick examination revealed two large abscesses that had swelled one back leg to twice its size. He also had a fever and was quite weak.

As I picked him up, the cat purred and head-butted his appreciation.

I set him up in our bathroom, cleaned and opened the abscesses to allow drainage and put a poultice on his leg. He purred quietly throughout the procedure and again each time I treated him, three times daily. In two weeks, he was healthy and ready to be introduced to our animal family.

For several months I tried to find him a good home, but everyone seemed to want him as a barn cat and he was far too interested in home life for that.

So, Orion became the newest member of our family.

Harry and I were closing in on thirty-eight years of being together when he was diagnosed, over Christmas, with Stage II colorectal cancer. Two weeks later, he was in surgery.

After ten days in the hospital, I brought him home and helped him get slowly out of the car and up the stairs. He sank into his recliner, lifting his feet and legs with the handle. Grimacing, he tried to find a comfortable position.

Orion was not allowed on that chair; Harry didn’t appreciate the hairs he left behind. But once Harry was settled, Orion scrutinized him carefully, considering the situation. Then he made his move. Gingerly, he jumped onto the footrest. With careful consideration, one toe at a time, he inched up further, still surveying. And then, with a ballerina’s grace, he slid onto Harry’s lap, edging as close to the incision as he could without actually touching that painful area.

Finally, he’d found the exact spot he wanted and lay down. Within seconds, the whole room filled with a purr symphony — without a doubt, the loudest purr I’d ever heard. He didn’t move or stop purring for a full hour. When he eventually left, he did so in the same careful manner.

Some scientists suggest that a cat’s purr vibrates at a healing frequency. Orion certainly seemed to use it therapeutically for himself and then stepped up to help Harry. And although Orion and Harry eventually returned to their normal relationship, tolerating each other’s presence in the house, for that one hour, the synchronicity and symbiosis between these two roommates defined pure harmony.

~Diane C. Nicholson

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