Conventional wisdom claims that money is the most common problem causing trouble in the Garden of Relationship Eden. I beg to differ. It is clutter management.
But then I’m talking about a relationship with cats, AKA the Feline Deities.
Over many years, the various felines and I have had to make sacrifices for each other in the matter of clutter management. It is not that I am especially messy, nor are they. The problem only comes up when our respective definitions of clutter come into play.
Cats are the ultimate pragmatists. Open space is an African savannah and must be filled with something useful. Food and water are first. Shade or warm spots, places to play or nap, and ability to observe any intrusion of rogue animals are obligatory. If the item sitting in that open space does not meet one of those definitions, it is clutter.
Being the less evolved mammal, I say space can be properly filled with art, plants, items that produce something called news or music, an object upon which to sit or lean or lie, and (the worst of all) cases of rectangular objects which I call research books or another rectangular item called a laptop computer. To me, not them, these things are not clutter.
Soon after becoming owned by cats, they and I did remove a few things from their definition of clutter. Since we share the places on which to sit or lean or lie, they accepted them as spots on which to nap. Although I do not lap water from a bowl, my source of liquid does not trouble them as it lies far above their savannah. Objects on walls may puzzle, but the deities allow for some irrelevant eccentricities. Indoor plants are, however, banned.
Where we have our major disagreement is with those things filled with research books and the laptop. I have come home to toppled shelves, books dumped on the floor, and the laptop doing odd things while the keyboard is covered with suspicious looking fur. One kitten climbed a bookcase, paw over paw, to get to the mantelpiece where she wished to view her world. With my clutter, I had thwarted her legitimate desire for a clean jump.
Over time, we have learned to compromise on acceptable clutter management. I explain that those books they try to destroy produce cat food and litter money. Once, after having this Talk, said cat ran through the bookcase again, knocking books everywhere with his usual abandon—then never did it again. (Contrary to other conventional wisdom, cats do listen.) I provide empty space on top of some bookcases so they can view their savannah and watch for rogue animals or maybe a juicy wildebeest. As for the laptop, I have learned to just shut it so they can’t accidentally order a Lamborghini from Amazon Prime.
So they and I have solved the clutter management problem, and our relationship thrives. Or at least it does as long as they believe all those questionable books continue to provide money for cat food…