The cat is on my lap, head and paws resting on my arm, face buried in the crevice between my arm and torso. He’s purring like an old and noisy air conditioner. The more I pet him, the louder he purrs.
His purring embodies happiness. It’s unadulterated, unambiguous happiness. I don’t get this from anyone else in my life. Sure, I make Sam happy but there are always other things — politics, rain on a bike day, the Army Corps of Engineers – that are making him unhappy at the same time. Me too. Even when I’m getting a massage at the gym, my mind is skittering around somewhere. But when the cat is purring, it is total: HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.
So I sit here at my desk trying to write, and instead making the cat happy. I feel like someone should pay me for this. (The cat?) It is amazing to be able to bring utter joy to another being so easily.
Would people be nicer to each other if our gestures were met by purring? Would we grant asylum to more refugees, provide food for more hungry children, if we did this and then heard them PURRING?
A couple of months ago, someone told me that cats who are wounded or dying sometimes purr to comfort themselves. I have no idea if that is true, but it struck me as one of the saddest things I’d ever heard in my life.
In my office, I eventually have to push the cat off my lap so I can type without my arm falling asleep.
Then he goes off onto a bed or a canvas grocery bag or perhaps into a salad bowl, and curls up to sleep — quite content but not quite purring.