Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rescuing the yarn lady from herself

Emma was concerned about the yarn lady.  She was a bit of a basket case lately.  Last week she'd been worried about something she'd written, and then was sad for days and days about mistakes she'd made and felt she could never fix.  She spent a lot of time thinking and writing when she was home and Emma had done what she could to make her feel better, mostly by just sitting next to her and purring a lot.

You see, cats who live with people are trained at a young age on how to figure out when their humans needed something extra from them and how to provide it.  Sometimes they just needed to be distracted, and that was the first thing Emma's cat mother had taught her.  Kittens are built for distraction, and Emma learned quickly how to use her kitten tricks to distract humans when life got a little overwhelming.  Then she was taught how to be comforting by snuggling and purring.  Her cat mother had explained that to Emma in great detail, particularly how to determine when comfort was needed.  She said that sometimes humans get sad, and the best thing to do was to sit on, preferably, or at least next to her human and purr a lot.  The hardest to learn was how to identify when humans themselves can't figure out what was wrong and to help them realize that first there was a problem, and then to help them identify and deal with it.  Emma had learned that when her humans couldn't settle to one task but wandered between several that there might be a problem.  When that happened, she'd watch and listen, and if the human made worried or funny faces or talked to itself then she needed to take action.  Experience had shown that the best thing to do was to get the human to stop jumping from one thing to another and instead pet her.  This might seem self-serving, but research has proven that petting a cat lowers a human's blood pressure and makes them think calmly about things. 

This afternoon had not been a day for distraction or comfort, but a day to use her best cat skills to get the yarn lady to settle down and think rationally.  It had been hard to do, as first the yarn lady had been inside, then outside, then inside again at the computer, then outside and finally she announced she was dizzy and needed to lie down.  Perfect, Emma had thought.  Now I've got her.  The yarn lady had picked up her IPad to read, but Emma wasn't going to let her do that.  She walked in between the IPad and the yarn lady's face and sat down.  The yarn lady kindly moved her on, so Emma walked around the back of the IPad, over the extra pillow and in front of the yarn lady's face again and sat, this time face to face.  She smiled her best cat smile and butted her head up against the yarn lady's forehead. 

"Well, I guess you're telling me that what I should be doing is paying attention to you and not this darned computer."  The yarn lady proceeded to scratch Emma's head, as Emma squirmed and demanded more attention.  Although to the untrained eye, it might have looked like Emma was just being a cute little kitty demanding attention, that was the farthest from the truth.  She was combining full body contact, purrs and judicious conversation (even if the yarn lady didn't really understand it).  The full-body contact provided much-needed physical contact with another that everyone needs, human or animal.  By making the yarn lady pet her and rubbing her head and sides against her she transmitted some of her own calm to the yarn lady.  The purrs slowed down the yarn lady's thoughts, and Emma constantly verbalized how much she loved the yarn lady and that she needed to slow down and just be for a while, rather than thinking so much. 

After a good half-hour of stroking and head-scratching the yarn lady felt better - calmer and able to get on with her day.  There were still things to do, and now she could do them.  She gave Emma one last head-scratch and thanked her.  "You were right, Emma.  Sometimes I just need to let myself feel and be, rather than trying to figure everything out." 


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