There is a sky in the eyes Sparkling with sweet stars Made of fire, spirit, and dew Swirling in liquid emerald hue;
There are secrets of the universe Across the oceans of galaxies Farthest into the unbeknownst One world more to the loneliest;
There is an alchemy of a wizard Inside the magical windows Unlocking the magic beyond, Revealing the wonder inside.
P.S.: This little poem is written as an ode to my fourteen-month old cat Toro in celebration of one-year anniversary of his adoption from a shelter. When I look at his large light green eyes, I see a world of his own composed of stars, moons, and suns – all in the mystery of the unknown galaxy far away from the end of the farthest known star. As George Orwell referred one man’s death to a condition of one world less in the whole universe, my living with Toro means a cosmic show of birthing another world of stars from a beautiful emerald and diamond supernova.
St. Frances de Sales’s advice, “Have patience with all things but first with yourself.” is no more so than with the three weeks’ heartbreaking ordeal to win back my cat Toro’s trust in me. His traumatic visit to the veterinarian now seems to dissipate across the feline Elysium slowly, or so I want to think. He is not hiding under the bed in my presence, becoming a sweet writing company on my desk once more.
I have recently watched a YouTube that goes viral about an unlikely friendship between a stray cat and a young woman, which makes me think of my relationship with Toro and what it means to build trust between two lives. The woman found a stray tabby cat around her house and began to acquaint him with food. She named him “Tiger,” not least due to his perspicacious tiger stripes and adorable feistiness, giving him a distinct personality and charms that were all the more endearing to the sensitive woman who was also in need of company in her solitude.
Thenceforth, they became complementary to each other for consolation, security, and most of all, love. Tiger is still his feisty self, and the woman is still trying to adjust herself to his whims and caprice. Still, they feel comfortable in their presence and love. The tears welled in the windows of her soul when she said that building trust between two took time and patience. You can’t make someone love you arbitrarily by force. You don’t need a love spell or magic potion to enslave someone into your desire of possessing the body and mind, as the ancient Greeks and Romans used to. Without Psyche, Eros would not/could not have culminated in perfecting the art of love as a primordial god of Love.
Toro is in some way like Tiger: his name means a little tiger in Japanese with his distinctive stripes, and M signature proudly marked on his little forehead. Although not as feisty as Tiger, Toro has a remarkable personality of adventurousness, curiosity, playfulness, and resilience, all affectionately wrapped in his good nature. But I don’t take for granted that wonderful Toro is my cat, and therefore, I deserve his trust and love. Animals, especially pets, also have hearts that pump up the blood and feel the feelings. I regard them as friends, companions to enrich our existential human lives with a touch of sentimentality that we hardly express when we are among our species in fear of being regarded as a sign of weakness. And I am always thrilled to feel his little heart at my feet as a friend.
When my eleven-months old cat Toro started drooling in white foams last Wednesday evening after swallowing a tiny flying insect in my bedroom, I was in a panic. I called nearby emergencies, describing the state Toro was in, but they told me his symptoms were not regarded as critical. Instead, they told me to monitor him, so I did. He stopped drooling the next day and drank a lot of water. Nevertheless, my concern was still growing, doubled with regret that Toro should have met an owner in a vast, spacious home with that which would make him happy. The pang of grief punctuated my already broken heart, and I was distraught.
Luckily, a vet to whom I had previously taken Toro for his difficulty in excreting in Little Tokyo said she could see Toro on Saturday morning. The waiting period until the appointment was an ordeal by the torture of the heart. My spirit was sunk in a sea of sadness, blaming myself for not providing Toro the optimum environment to thrive in his best feline nature. The bedroom is so tiny that it is more of a den, and the living room where my elderly infirm mother spends most of the day intermittently is off-limit to Toro by keeping him alone during the day when I am working. My evening playing with him might probably bore him to death because my lack of creativity fails to invent more stimulating kinds of play that will perk up his energy. I cannot help but think that I am becoming a bane of Toro’s existence, the cause of his unhappiness.
To pour lead on my open wound in the heart, when I finally took Toro to the vet on Saturday, she diagnosed him with idiopathic cystitis. She showed me a scanned copy of Toro’s mildly swollen bladders with information on the illness caused by stress. That’s it. The diagnosis realized my imagination and shattered a slim hope of something other than STRESS. I see all the cares I had given to Toro as best as I could beyond my measure by taking him to vets and telling him how much I loved him as much as I could dissipate into the elusive dreams of my little happiness with Toro. My happy moments with Toro vanished into yesterdays, bidding farewells to tomorrows.
It’s been a week since the diagnosis, and now Toro has changed. Toro now hides under the bed, doesn’t come up to my bed, and avoids me when I am home. Besides, he doesn’t eat as much as he used to, about which the vet told me to be patient because that could be the effect of changing his prescriptive diet from gastrointestinal to urinary care. What is strange about his sudden change of behaviors is that he was never like this from his previous visits to vets. Come what may, Toro seems to be unhappy, and I am very downtrodden for his changed behavior. He was the only one who showed me his affection.
I still remember his adorable, curious big eyes peeping out of an opening from a box carrier when I brought him from Ventura Animal Shelter last August at the age of nine weeks. Purring and kneading are long gone. My reason suggests that re-homing Toro is the best I can do for his happiness, yet my heart tells me not to listen to it and look for another place for a better living environment. Nevertheless, I yield to my heart’s voice and want to believe that there is still hope for us to be happy in a better living condition. I hope to see mirth wonton around us and happiness sparkle before our very eyes soon.
When I saw the movie poster of ‘Cat’s Eye’ (1985) on Amazon prime, I was at first hesitant to watch it because it showed the stereotypical association of the cat as a witch’s familiar or something to that nature of foregone horror repertoire. But perhaps I was more afraid of what I would see and reconcile to the stereotype that the cat could not be the dog. Despite all of the phantasmagorial display of the flights of thought, the cat of the poster’s uncanny resemblance to my seven-month-old tabby Toro won me over the resistance. I rented it for Saturday Afternoon Home Cinema with the expectation which was akin to curious Alice in Wonderland. Be it ever magical or bewitching in a softly purring way, the result is one big wonder conflated with doses of warmth and mirth, whimsically betraying the genre classification as horror and the writer’s Craft of Gothic Fantasy like you never knew.
‘Cat’s Eye’ is a threefold anthology film based on Stephen King’s short stories, the first two from his “Night Shift.” King wrote the last story, especially for the movie. It tells a story of a traveling cat who comes upon three separate incidents during his search of the mission to save a life from danger, as annunciated by a spectral girl. In the first two stories, in which the cat takes an incidental role of witnessing human frailty and duality of evil and good, he goes by the names of “The Kitty” and “Sebastian,” showing the characters of the name doners per se. And who says that the cat is a harbinger of destruction as witch’s familiar? He is the judge of the character as if taking in the sun God Ra’s appearance, who was said to be meowing during what he was doing, representing the sun’s benefits for life on Earth in the Book of the Dead. Kitty and Sebastian do not directly intervene in the characters’ fates in the first two stories. It is the third story in which the cat takes charge of the narrative as the main actor with the name “General” on the stage.
Stephen King is known for his excellent story-telling skills combined with supernatural and psychological elements of lonely and misunderstood characters with wounded hearts dealing with their enemies in extraordinary situations. In the tradition of Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ernest Hemingway, King’s narratives are always free from a baroque figure of speech with florid adjectives and complex sentences that flaunt the ego of an unapproachable writer on the mighty throne of English Literature. That is why King’s stories are attractive and widely acclaimed because they deal with the ordinary lives that are not ordinary when seen in close-up. That alchemical ingredient gleams through this movie, showing how our lives are vicariously interrelated, weaved by multiple strands of contemporary life that we all live now through the cat’s eye. Herodotus, the father of western narrative history, knew the connectedness of separate human lives and combined them into one vast story of humanity employing parataxis, individual narrative accounts’ integrity. King’s “Cat’s Eye” follows Herodotus’s narrative trail.
The movie’s real star that brought the fiction into reality is undoubtedly the tabby, whose performance is so wonderfully natural and deeply impressive that it eclipses the human cast’s performance. And yet, there is no credit for the feline star without his real name and a shred of information. He is now long gone, but then I see my tabby Toro at home and wonder if the actor cat might have been his great-grandfather because of the striking physical resemblance and reflective demeanor. But then I think anyone who has a tabby may be delighted to feel that way because otherwise, King might not have written for this film charmingly, which is unusually lovely with high paws.