Monday, April 25, 2011

The Unlikely Partner

By Christine Girard, ND
2010 AANP Physician of the Year

Photo by patti haskins via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
I went to the pet store to buy cat food for Sage, my perfect, 17-year-old, part-Maine coon cat. As I walked into the store, I saw a few cats in crates that were on display from the local shelter. I see this each time I enter this store. But that day…heavy sigh... that day, a small black and white cat made eye contact and turned over exposing her belly. I was strong. I walked by. I went to the back of the store to the cat food aisle to choose Sage’s food. I would not be suckered by a pink and white belly. I walked to the register – well, I almost made it to the register. I detoured to the cat crates. Three cats in separate crates. Two slept. One chirped and pawed at me through the plexiglass window. I texted William, my Sweetheart, with her picture. His response was something in the realm of “Are you out of your mind?”

Once home, I teased about adopting another cat. William and Sage both tolerated my teasing. This went on for a week. At that time, I bought more food for Sage at the same store and saw the same black and white face peering through the plexiglass. I texted more pictures. The manager of the store said that usually the cats are adopted within two weeks. “They have a really good turnaround time,” she said. I didn’t know cats had a turnaround time. Who knew? Reasonably assured, I went home.

I conveyed this information to William, who continued to tolerate my random musings about having another member of the family. Sage offered the occasional rolling of the eyes (didn’t know cats could do that, did you?). William by this time had asked that I cease and desist. The following week, I found myself dreaming about this cat. I couldn’t ignore her. I explained this to William. What I love about William (well, one of the things) is that he listens. I mean he really pays attention and listens. That week William went to the store to buy Sage’s food. He texted me that the black and white cat was still there. What should we do? She had been there for longer than the two weeks. I had been dreaming about her (and having private conversations with Sage about having a little sister). We couldn’t ignore her.

So, by phone, I walked William through what needed to be bought and I prepared our guest bedroom for the new cat. Sage slept. He woke later that afternoon and his world had changed. He sniffed at the guest bedroom door and hissed. Not an auspicious beginning.

Over the following few weeks, we introduced them to each other. It has gone remarkably well. Sage has been generally tolerant, and our kitten has been the annoying little sister he never wanted.

We named her Lotus because she has the pinkest nose and the pinkest belly under white fur. It reminded me of the blush of pink on a white lotus flower.

What has been unexpected is her effect on my morning yoga/meditation. She comes in the meditation room and watches intently as I light the candle and incense. As I arrange myself in lotus position, she waits patiently. Once I begin to focus, she steps into my lap, arranges herself and purrs. She just sits there quietly. Lotus in the lotus position. What I have found is that I am more motivated to meditate because I have this unlikely partner who shares this very special quiet space with me. It really is quite precious.


  1. I can relate with this story on more than one occasion. The most recent being a stray dog who was brought into the animal hospital where I work. She was emaciated and could hardly stand. She stayed at the hospital for nearly 2 months after being diagnosed with Valley Fever. After many mornings tending to her and lunch breaks sitting with her in her run...the doctor and I decided she was well enough to go home with me for the weekend.

    She rode quietly in the back seat of my car and smiled graciously as she always did when we spent time together.

    She fit perfectly with our furry family and we decided to adopt her. We named her Sonrisa (Spanish for smile) for she has the most endearing smile I've ever seen in a dog.

    Adding her to the family has brought a sense of calm.

    Furry family members never seem to tire of greeting you when you get home even if it has only been 30mins since you left. Their devotion and love can lift your spirit even during the worst of days.

  2. Love this story - a little Buddha kitten!