Memory Fridays: The Importance of Remembering Positively

Almost exactly two years ago, I took an important subway ride from work to the Petco in Union Square. There's a cat adoption agency that runs from inside that Petco and I went that evening with the intention of finally letting myself adopt a cat of my own. Newly in my own apartment with no one's allergies to worry about, I dreamed of adopting a male cat and calling him Oscar.

Imagine my surprise when I walked in and met a male cat whose name was, already, Oscar.

The sign said he was 4 or 5 years old and that suited me pretty well. Raising a kitten was intimidating. Any behavioral problems they might end up with would reflect my parenting skills. But here was a guy who had been around the block, who had been abandoned in the Bronx and still had a kind heart in him.

He was a snuggler from the moment they opened his cage.

Suddenly life was brighter. At any given moment, I had company at home. Oscar loved accompanying me to the bathroom in the middle of the night or the couch if I was watching TV or under the big comforter in the bedroom. When Chris came over for our first date, we sat close to each other on the couch to watch a movie, but it was Oscar who snuggled between us, bridging the gap and taking advantage of 4 hands instead of 2 for ear-scratching and chin-rubbing.

Needless to say, Oscar makes fast friends with everyone.

This morning we took him to the vet to have minor surgery. He needed a few teeth pulled and had to be put under. It's been funny (and yet kind of alarming) to have him back tonight, as he stumbles around the apartment getting his bearings back. He's an incredibly social cat and tonight he's been off, wandering the apartment instead of keeping me company on the couch.

Sometimes I worry- what is going to break this cat's spirit? Will it be a vet's appointment? Surgery? Being shuffled to friends' apartments one too many times? My experience with my parents' cats is that they remember things like vet appointments, so much that they are afraid the next time the carrier comes out. Is it that Oscar doesn't remember? Or is there something else at play?

I like to think that Oscar does remember that taking the carrier out means he might end up being prodded and poked. But at the same time, he also remembers how many snuggles we give him after an appointment or how we're always there to pick him up. He remembers that we come home every day, even though sometimes it's after dark. He remembers that we'll feed him in the morning if he lets us sleep to a reasonable hour. Oscar doesn't just recall the times he's felt alone or afraid. He also recalls the safest moments as well.

I'd like to think that Oscar's relaxed because of the vibes that Chris and I give off. And I'd also like to think that I'm more positive because of Oscar's willingness to get back on the horse (or into the carrier) every time, with no fear.

He's a good little buddy and we're glad to have him back tonight.

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