I love all animals: dogs (many of my friends have one or more), goats (we had two growing up), birds (my mom has had several), swans (yeah, we had a couple of those too), little furry critters (of course we had gerbils and hamsters) and most of all—cats. One of the reasons why I love cats so much is because of their purr. I love the concept that their contentment is shown with a sound. I think we should all purr.
My journey with purring started when I was a little girl. Growing up we had a cat in my family and one of my favorite activities was to sit near my cat, slowly close my eyes and peek as my cat would slowly close her eyes in mimic. They don’t call a copycat a copy “cat” for no reason. Then her purring got louder and you could even feel her purr as she slightly vibrated particularly around her neck. My turn to be a copycat—I learned how to make the purr sound myself and I found it quite soothing as I fell asleep.
As a child I also loved to watch Star Trek. One of my favorite though very silly episodes (I guess many were silly yet wonderful) was The Trouble with Tribbles. Tribbles are round balls of fur that vibrate very loudly and multiply very quickly. At one point, my brother and I managed to find a toy tribble and sure enough it vibrated and purred similar to a cat!
As an adult, the comparable sound for me is Ujjayi breathing, a breath technique used during yoga to ensure steady inhales and exhales. It isn’t quite the same as purring, but it is comparable in terms of calming.
The cat in our family now is Anubis and we lovingly call him a “purr monster” or “purr box”. When I first met him as a tiny one-week old kitten, he was with his brothers and sisters at a foster home. They were found abandoned and saved by a wonderful woman. Andy and I were fortunate to adopt Anubis and his brother Horus. I chose Horus from the litter because of his rabbit-like soft red longhair fur. (He is gone now and I miss him and will always love him.) I selected Anubis because he seemed to be purring the loudest of all the kitties.
At night, particularly during the cold winter, Anubis sleeps on Andy or me. Whether we are sleeping on our back or stomach, he crawls on up and makes himself comfortable. All the while as Anubis settles in, the purring grows steady and strong and his little body gently vibrates. Yes, we should all be so lucky to be as content as a purring cat.
The Naming Of Cats
by T. S. Eliot
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.