Noooooooo... I'm not afraid of cats November 29 2015

I have always been afraid of cats. Is the fear in my genes or is it a learned response?

My father didn’t like cats. I don’t know if he was afraid of them but his aversion was huge. My grandmother was afraid of cats. Neither of my siblings seem to have the affliction though. So I don’t know.

My unease is not a huge issue except when I am in the home of someone with a cat. The cat will always gravitate toward me. Circle me. Rub up against me. Stare at me with squinty eyes. And, inevitably roll back on its haunches ready to jump up on my lap.

I have tried staring them down. I have tried ignoring them. I have tried moving my leg to shoo them away. I have tried tolerating the leg rub hoping they will get tired of it and move on. Nothing works. The cats persist.

One evening we were at a dinner party with people I did not know. They were mostly older than us, more dignified and very proper.

After dinner we moved to the lower level of the house. I sat on a couch. As everyone else was talking, I spied the biggest, fluffiest cat I had ever seen strutting down the stairs. Giving myself a an inner pep talk, I tried to convince myself that I would be fine. “Just ignore the cat, Charis,” I urged myself. “It will go to one of the other 11 people here.”

Some guests noticed the cat and commented on how beautiful it was. I avoided even looking.  Yet out of the corner of my eye I could see that the cat was making its way straight toward me. I just kept saying to myself, “I’m fine. I’m fine.”

The cat kept getting closer. “I’m fine.” It rubbed up against my leg. I cringed. “I’m fine.”

The cat turned and, I thought, started to stroll away. Phew. Then it turned, reared back on its haunches and started to leap toward me. 

I jumped off the couch, bolted diagonally across the room, and crouched behind a giant arm chair, hiding. The room was silent until our host asked, “Oh, Charis, are you afraid of cats?”

“No, no, I’m fine.” Then realizing everyone was watching me squat in a corner on the floor behind a chair, I made a couple of nervous attempts at a laugh and then admitted that, yes, I am afraid of cats. And that I was sorry. Our host removed the cat and I crawled out of my hiding spot devoid of dignity.

This week I am tending to my “grandcat”. Just like grandchildren, you have to love your “grandcat”. Moya is her name. She stays in her home and I go to see her every day while her parents are away.

Moya is afraid of people, noise, sudden movement, and any change. She has more fears than I do. So I feel for her. Over time, Moya has become more used to me and I to her. She will now sit beside me rather than hiding in the closet, and I will let her. I pet her and talk to her and she purrs. By mutual agreement, she never jumps on me, rubs against my legs or gives me the evil eye. I never move fast or make loud noises. We are working on our fears together. 

Am I still afraid of cats? Yes. But I’m not afraid of Moya. Nor she of me. 

The "Purple pansy" platter is a work in progress, just like me and Moya. My attempt at a new design method didn't quite pan out, but I'm working on it.

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