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Another excerpt from “Today Cancer, Tomorrow the World: how cats fight cancer.

August 5, 2012

In this excerpt from my my work-in-progress I talk about how the power of cats can fight cancer.

I had the pleasure of talking to a woman who rescued animals before they can be euthanized at shelters and found homes for them. I said, “You know, they say music soothes the savage breast, but you never see a cat tapping their feet.” And she replied, “Animals hear a different music.” That conversation came back to me one day, when chemo drifted me off course, and I couldn’t focus because The Big C was inside my body, a morgue-like blob of nothingness trying to rim my being into the shape of death. What other weapon could I use to reduce the grip of this tone-deaf tic of a thing that has latched itself onto the beat of my heart? What about using that different music! But how could I compose a song I never heard? Then the answer came to me: I have cats! Each stroke of affection from me to our cats was the only instrument I had to play animal music. A pet is shaped by kindness. Cancer isn’t tender or affectionate. It gives nothing and takes what it doesn’t have from your life.

Another pet for Groucho. Another pet for Bogey. Another pet for Brooksie.

Groucho is the smartest and most high-strung cat in our trio. When I’m sitting down, I hear Groucho squeak like a rusty hinge (Groucho doesn’t meow, maybe because he’s a stunted Maine Coon who was bitten my a dog as a kitten.). He squeaks again, leaps and jumps on my shoulder. So put him in my lap, he climbs up my shirt and nuzzles his nose against my chin. I blow into his face and he sniffs. Then I cradle him in my arms, rock him back and forth, scratch his back and softly say, “Nobody hurts my Groucho.” He looks up at me, purrs and places his paws on my chin.

Each pet from me shows an affection for a life and generates a healing force within me.

Another pet for Groucho. Another pet for Bogey. Another pet for Brooksie.

When Bogey was a kitten and we rescued him from a shelter. He was taken away from his mother very early. When I first held Bogey, he curled around my neck, purred, and sucked on my ear lobe. A week later, he became sick. I picked Bogey up, held him against my neck, but he didn’t purr or suck on my ear. I took him to the vet, they treated him, but he had to spend the night in a clinic and there was a chance he might not make it. Early the next morning I came to get Bogey. I didn’t want to see his green eyes fade from view. I took him out of his cage, wrapped him around my neck. He started chewing and licking my ear lobe and purring. I started crying and saying, “He’s purring, he’s purring.” Then I whispered, “Bogey you got better, Bogey, you got better.” The vet said, “I see a lot of cats, and you could put a leash on him and walk him like a dog. He’s one of those.” I said, “I couldn’t put a leash on Bogey, I just want him to be Bogey,” And the tiny guy grew to 25 pounds and is a mellow and gentle kitty. A Black Labrador in a cat suit. I call him the “biggest little guy.” Bogey really is more of a dog than a cat. If he hears someone coming to the house he growls. He’s hilarious.

When I become weak and lay down in bed, shivering from chemo, and Bogey jumps on the bed, gently kneads his paws on my cheek, purrs and sucks my ear lobe. And I start to cry and haltingly whimper, “You got better Bogey, I’ll get better.”

I stroke the living and the life within the cats transfers through my skin and sends out animal music that amplifies through my health tissue and crashes its rolling waves against the tone-deaf mass. A high-note octave pitch cracks lesions into the vibrating tumor.

Another pet for Groucho. Another pet for Bogey. Another pet for Brooksie.

Brooksie was our first cat and he pretty much resented the other two cats, then sometimes changes his attitude and licks them. And Brooksie is possessive for sure, if I’m lying down in bed he lays alongside me and hisses at Groucho and Bogey if they want to get on the bed. If the cats ignore him and join me, Brooksie has a hissy fit and leaves. But whenever he get get an opening to have me all to himself, Brooksie takes it. If I’m reading a book or a newspaper, Brooksie, walks on it, plops down, and waits for me to pet him. When I come home, Brooksie would run up the stairs to greet me and follow me down to the house. Our neighbor saw his and said, “That cat loves you.” In the morning when I get out of the shower, comes in, gives my ankle a love bite, licks the water off me, then looks up and I scratch the spot just above his tail and say, “I know you love me Brooksie, I know you love me.”

Another pet for Groucho. Another pet for Bogey. Another pet for Brooksie.

The pets of kindness. The pets on a life force overpower cancer with emotions the tumor is incapable of handling. It’s so wonderful when you know love and tenderness can kill.

Yes, here comes another pet for Groucho, another pet for Bogey. Another pet for Brooksie.

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