Catitude – the Wisdom of Fiona

With the passing of a beloved pet it’s natural to reflect on all the ones who came before.  Each had a special legacy,  memories and moments that are touchstones in the lives we shared.  Fiona, my cat who just departed after 16 years,  gave me the gift of Catitude.

Chill FionaCatitude is attitude and gratitude, from a cat’s perspective. Catitude is knowing what you want and not being afraid to ask, or quietly persist if needed. It’s the freedom to be yourself  and to know that when you purr, the world purrs with you. There is only one master of the universe and you are it, or at least you should be.

Sometimes this can lead to disenchantment, as the world fails to meet expectations. Fiona Fiona’s wishes were not always granted, but she did not fall into the kind of ennui  Henri the Cat so aptly personifies. Research has shown that dogs evoke a kind of maternal bonding in their human companions.  We treat them as adoring, often goofy children, the kind that love you no matter what. Cats, not so much.

While humans have designed 340 dog breeds, cats have remained truer to their original domesticated form, even with 70 recognized breeds found around the world.  They formed a partnership of convenience with humans, replacing weasels, (who were too ornery) as efficient rodent assassins.  Once they were deified in Egypt, our relationship changed forever.


Cat people tend to either love their “fur babies” or they enjoy the elegant and generally quieter companionship of their cat friends.  Artists have a particular affinity for a well-designed feline.  Fiona’s appealing form and her obvious happiness when I  worked in my studio made her my muse, infusing the space with her aesthetic presence. The only other time she seemed as content was when she was sleeping, with an angelic smile that need not beg forgiveness for the day’s petty misdeeds.

Our relationship was complicated, which brings me to the gratitude side of Catitude. Some relationships are challenging.  They impel us to find new responses to old aspects of ourselves that never seem to go away, even when we project them onto others.  This mirroring tendency is one way cats have shown us how to withdraw our projections and release the stress of the day. Hanging out with your cat, letting your senses respond to the flow of the tall grass and waving tree branches swaying in the wind is healing.  It releases the mind from fears of a world in turmoil and gives the soul space to breathe.


A love that’s not easy reminds us that other beings might wish we were somehow different. And that we can’t always be right, or wrong. It helps us see through another’s eyes and recognize their truth instead of disregarding an irritating point of view.  Our compassion grows with the challenge of a dynamic relationship.

We learn the mystery of life and death with the loss of our dear ones; a part of our soul has left with them.  My cats have taught me much of love, death and the circle of life.


We miss you, Fiona. Thanks for sharing your life and your death.  May love carry you into the mystery and bring you home.

One Reply to “Catitude – the Wisdom of Fiona”

  1. The Cat who Lived a Million Times
    Yoko Sano

    There was a cat who could live for a million years.
    He died a million times, and lived a million times.
    He was a great tiger-striped cat.
    A million people adored the cat,
    And a million people cried when that cat died.
    The cat never cried, not even once.

    Once, the cat was a king’s cat.
    The cat hated the king.
    The king was great at war, and was always at war.
    And, he put the cat in a magnificent cage,
    And took him out to war.
    One day, the cat was hit by a flying arrow, and died.
    The king embraced the cat and wailed during the battle.
    The king stopped the war and returned to his castle.
    And, he buried the cat in the castle’s garden.

    Once, the cat was a sailor’s cat.
    The cat hated the seas.
    The sailor took the cat to all the seas of the world,
    And all the ports of the world.
    One day, the cat fell off the boat.
    The cat could not swim.
    The sailor hurriedly scooped up the cat with his net,
    But the cat was soaked and dead.
    The sailor embraced the cat which was now like a wet rag,
    And wailed in a loud voice.
    And, he buried the cat under the tree
    In a park in a far-away port.

    Once, the cat was a burglar’s cat.
    The cat hated burglars.
    The burglar walked quietly through the dark town with the cat,
    Just like a cat.
    The burglar robbed only houses with dogs.
    While the dog was barking at the cat,
    The burglar opened the safes.
    One day, the cat was bitten to death by the dog.
    The burglar embraced the cat with the diamonds he stole,
    And walked through the night town wailing in a loud voice.
    Then, he went home and buried the cat in a small yard.

    Once, the cat was the cat of a lonely grandmother.
    The cat hated grandmothers.
    The grandmother looked outside every day from a small window,
    Holding the cat in her arms.
    The cat was asleep all day on top of the grandmother’s lap.
    Time passed, and the cat died of old age.
    The frail grandmother embraced the frail dead cat,
    And cried all day.
    The grandmother buried the cat under a tree in the yard.

    Once, the cat was the cat of a magician in a circus.
    The cat hated the circus.
    The magician put the cat inside a box every day,
    And cut him in half with a saw.
    Then, he removed the cat, still in one piece,
    Out of the box to receive his applause.
    One day, the magician made a mistake,
    And really cut the cat in half.
    The magician wailed in a loud voice,
    Holding the two parts of the cat in each hand.
    Nobody applauded him.
    The magician then buried the cat behind the circus tent.

    Once, the cat was a little girl’s cat.
    The cat hated children.
    The girl piggy-backed the cat, and slept clutching the cat.
    When she cried, she wiped her tears on the cat’s back.
    One day atop the girl’s back,
    The holster to keep the cat secure wound around his neck,
    And the cat died.
    Holding the cat with the dangly neck, the girl cried all day.
    And, she buried the cat under a tree in the yard.

    The cat had no fear of dying.

    Once, the cat wasn’t anyone’s cat.
    He was a stray cat.
    The cat was able to be his own cat for the first time.
    The cat loved himself.
    Since he was a great tiger-striped cat,
    He became a great stray cat.

    All the female cats wanted to be the cat’s wife.
    There were cats that gave him huge fish.
    Others gave him premium mice.
    Some cats brought rare catnip as a gift.
    Other cats licked his tiger fur for him.
    The cat said to all of them—
    “I’ve died a million times! This is so ridiculous now!”
    The cat loved himself more than anyone else.

    But there was just one beautiful white cat
    That didn’t even look at the cat.
    The cat went over next to the white cat, and told her,
    “I died a million times!”
    The white cat just said, “Oh.”
    The cat became slightly upset, since he loved himself.
    The next day, and the day after that,
    The cat went over to the white cat and told her,
    “You haven’t even finished one life.”
    The white cat just said, “Oh.”

    One day, the cat did three somersaults in front of the white cat,
    and said, “I once was a cat for a circus.”
    The white cat just said, “Oh.”
    The cat started to say, “I have had a million—”
    Then asked the white cat, “Can I be at your side?”
    The white cat said, “Yes.”
    The cat stayed by the white cat for a long time.

    The white cat had many cute kittens.
    The cat no longer dared to say “I have had a million—”
    The cat loved the white cat and all the many kittens
    Even more than himself.

    As time passed, the kittens grew up and all went away.
    The cat, satisfied, said, “They became great stray cats now.”
    The white cat said, “Yes,” and softly purred her throat.
    The white cat had become a grandmother cat.
    The cat purred his throat even more softly.
    The cat thought that he wanted to live forever with the white cat.

    One day, the white cat quietly stopped moving next to the cat.
    The cat cried for the first time in his life.
    Night came, morning came,
    Night came again, and morning came again.
    The cat cried a million times.
    Morning came, night came—
    and one afternoon, the cat stopped crying.
    The cat, next to the white cat, quietly stopped moving.

    The cat never came back to life again.

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