Not to be boxed in, to be able to transcend boundaries: for an artist, it’s essential.
Also applies to kitties.
When my son asked if I could take in a homeless cat, I paused because I didn’t have familiarity with cats. In addition, she was pregnant. I had no idea what would be involved in looking after this animal and her perspective brood.
I needn’t have worried. Mamma cat did everything right, giving birth and taking care of her seven kittens. Our reward for taking her in . . .
We kept Momma cat and Sweetie Bumpkins (on the left), and we were lucky to find good homes for the other kittens.
Everyone who has cats as pets knows about their kitty’s natural curiosity and attention to detail. In the picture below, I had placed a Christmas bear on the floor, and it wasn’t long before Sweetie Bumpkins found it and made the bear her head rest.
It’s seems as though even the smallest detail is not overlooked by our feline friends.
My computer area is fairly cluttered now as I’m working on several projects and have notebooks, papers, scissors and other miscellaneous items strewn about the desk. I added one small cloth-covered button to the confusion and placed it on the side of my keyboard. The button had fallen off my blouse, which is one of my favorites, made of soft cotton in a shade of pastel pink. The blouse has to be over ten years old, and a couple of buttons have already been lost so I saved this last button to fall victim to thinning threads.
So our kitty, Sylvia, jumps on the desk top, looks around, and almost immediately reaches for the button on the keyboard and begins to play with it. I rescue the button and put it aside. Later in the afternoon, Sweety Bumpkins, moves through the clutter, and she finds the button next to the keyboard and begins to toss it around. Familiar with my clutter, they immediately identified the button as new.
Now I heard somewhere that cats know the inside of the house better than we do. I guess it’s true . . . they always find whatever is out of place. Right?
Transference is a phenomenon in psychoanalysis characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another, according to Wikipedia. David W. Bernstein formulated one theory of transference identified as, Abusive Multiple Transference, “in which abusers not only transfer negative feelings directed towards their former abusers to their own victims, but also transfer the power and dominance of the former abusers to themselves.”
I always understood transference as being a human emotion until I observed my cat’s behavior in response to a neighborhood feline who visits our house regularly. This friendly, cute kitty immediately causes an upheaval within our peaceful two-cat home. Sylvia is the mother cat to Sweetie Bumpkins, and they usually get along quite well, although Sylvia is dominant. So when “Bad Kitty,” the nickname we’ve given the outside cat, stops by, Sylvia begins hissing and meowing and races from window to window to follow Bad Kitty’s movements around the outside of the house. Sometimes Bad Kitty just lays down on the patio, tail swishing back and forth as if to taunt Sylvia. The whole experience comes to a crisis when Sweetie Bumpkins walks into the altercation. Sylvia goes after her with a vengeance with the accompanying yeowls and growls and fur flying. Sweetie Bumpkins runs for her life finding a hiding place safely upstairs under a bed.
What occurred to me is that we share some very basic behavior with our cats. Cats and humans are very much separated on their evolutionary lines, and yet in this way, we share the same behavior pattern of taking out our negative emotions on some innocent party, even one who is close to us. Of course, we as humans can become aware of this behavior and change it. But is transference so basic, so ingrained, so part of the wiring in our brain that most of the time, are we unaware of this mind set–say, road rage, corporal punishment, the Tea Party? Perhaps transference occurs at almost every level of our interactions with others.
The kitties have demonstrated that this response is an evolutionary device. My personal theory is that transference is a scapegoat mechanism that has evolved to create a release. Neither the kitties nor us can sustain the tension and emotional upheaval within, and nature has provided this release. The question remains whether humans can access these traumas and then change our behavior to relieve the pressures in a socially and ethnically responsible way. The answer is neither black nor white.