Bolly, my new cat, was a cat that my friend Hendrik couldn’t really look after. Bolly kept pestering his younger cat, Timmy, and Hendrik couldn’t bear the fights – such as they weren’t. It is the nature of a mature cat to be territorial, they need this because they have to ensure their supply of food. Their territorial instincts are drawn from this reality and maintain the cat’s future.
This does have downsides for the cat, in that they have to be constantly on the alert which means they get very little sleep. Indeed, Hendrik mentioned that he could only get any sleep when the two cats were in different rooms. It wasn’t so much that fur flew or that blood was drawn; the occasional hiss was enough to keep him awake.
So much for the reality of the situation.
So, I offered to look after Bolly and eventually Hendrik acceded to this suggestion. That was eight and a half weeks ago now, and Bolly is happily established as a resident. I kept Bolly in my bedroom for a full three weeks so that he really would know where home was. He did get out on one occasion, and that was late at night.
Hendrik had mentioned how docile and slow Bolly was when outside. Perhaps that’s true on the limited surface of a gravel covered roof; when there are bushes, trees and tall grass to enjoy, Bolly showed me a clean pair of heels. All I can say is that I was very thankful that Bolly was hungry. A hastily made bowl of food had his attention in the space of thirty seconds.
Catching him was another matter: there was a swirling feline bramble patch of claws and teeth between me and the cat I wanted to have indoors. I ventured a hand to him only to find that the claws and teeth were only intended to intimidate. Picking him up was as easy as picking up my Misho – albeit that Bolly growled a lot.
Misho, by the way, is as soft and lovely a cat as any I’ve ever owned. My neighbour has dubbed him ‘Theemutsje’ – ‘Little Tea Cosy’ which is as lovely a nickname as any. When I share this information with others neighbours, it gives them the confidence to handle him, because they know he really is as nice and friendly as he looks.
Only my home is Misho’s territory. Not that Misho does much to defend it, all his needs are met – or at least, as many needs as I can possibly meet – and he is, to all intensome purposes a kitten (1). Bolly, however, doesn’t know this, and since my flat smells of Misho, there is only one thing Bolly can know from this: “it’s not mine.”
Bolly, whose needs were not so well met by Hendrik, is still semi-wild. The other problem is that Bolly is older than Misho by a good few years; this means that in the unchangeable law of instinct, Bolly is the boss. Or should be. For Bolly, this is a very confusing time indeed: everything about Misho should be beneath him, everything about Misho says he’s not.
Thankfully this situation hasn’t led to the fur flying. Their spats, such as they aren’t, are more of a pawing and the occasional hiss. There is no chasing as with Timmy, and Misho has, given the circumstances, been the perfect gentleman to his new and most unwelcome visitor.
When Bolly was first given leave to spend time outdoors, he chose a spot in my raspberry patch. Naturally, Misho was on the chair! Hierarchy is most definitely “high” in the cat world; not for nothing is the boss the “top cat”. Bolly soon found himself unhappy with the situation and withdrew to a bush near the car park.
My job now is twofold: meet as many of Bolly’s needs as I can, and let him establish himself as the natural leader. That will take time, and if they’ve made their peace with the feline realities of the situation by December, I will be well pleased. If for the only reason that Bolly gets to stay in the warm overnight.
Since then, I’ve been able to pet Bolly more and more. Given the previous barrage of claws, this was something that demanded patience. In this case, three weeks of patience. Play biting and ‘love bites’ are now as common as tummy rubbing. This too, I regard as a huge improvement in his behaviour.
Oh, I discovered that he is actually a she. For all the words on his cat passport… some vets are as gullible as the culture they are part of. Even with years of book learning and applying what they know from the books to their charges, they are more likely to listen to their client. Mainly because they’re paying and thus are to be told what they want to hear. It’s not good for the health of the animal, but it keeps the humans happy. After all, a cat isn’t interested in its gender in the way a human is; cats aren’t conscious and don’t need to be. The male cat sniffs out the female cat and the result is kittens. Nor is a cat’s wedding tackle as obvious as a dog’s or a horse’s, and thus confusion is easy for those whose glance is only cursory. Out of courtesy to the paying customer, you understand.
Progress in the last two weeks has slowed somewhat, but that is how humans learn. The changes now are far more subtle, and thus far less easy to notice. Like Bolly being a she and not a he. Hendrik never got close enough to see, wasn’t interested in looking because he knew Bolly was a ‘he’ because it was written on his passport by someone in authority. No further thinking required. Well, Hendrik is Dutch and the greatest failing of the Dutch is their willingness to believe what is written down for them. It’s how the American banks sold billions of worthless assets…
I will have to be patient with both Misho and Bolly so that they can work things out for themselves. Neither are particularly aggressive, which means most of my fears for Misho – the ultimate loser – have been allayed. He wasn’t eviscerated, he’s not been slashed and he’s not been bitten. Nor can I see this coming to pass: if it’s been enough for them to let the paws fly, there really isn’t any need for anything more. They both know how far they need to go, and for the instincts, that is quite sufficient. Instincts are limited to the things the animal picks up through their nervous system, and thus it is always limited by this experience. Nothing more is needed, as anything more would cost valuable energy.
This is, after all, the animal world. It is a world where food is scarce and the physical body essential.
The Comfort Zone.
In the human, the comfort zone is – or at least, should be – delineated by what we can feel with our skin. That is to say, our nerve endings. That in many cases, people imagine their nerves extend far beyond their skin is actually something that in the human is quite unhealthy. The problem here is that whilst such a person knows that everything that occurs within their extended comfort zone should be known, the reality is that it can’t be.
The usual way to deal with this problem is to ensure that everything that is encountered by such an individual fits a known pattern. Thus the extension of the comfort zone actually works its way back into the individual’s psychology by way of them limiting the things they can perceive. (Note that this requires some very subtle thinking; if you have questions on this, please leave a comment.)
If any of you have read the works of the psychologist Adler, you will know that he saw all human interactions based on power. Freud based his on sex, but that’s the result of a different pattern of events. So, Adler saw the human as either dominant or not. All he is really saying is that a human has to control the events that come to pass in their extended comfort zone. That is, after all, what power is. What’s more, the more power you get, the safer you get to feel. The director in his office at the top of a skyscraper is as isolated from the human reality on the streets as it is possible to get without being autistic (2). Everything that happens in the floors below are what have been determined by him and those who think like him. Anybody who doesn’t think like them is obviously wrong.
Because they don’t fit the habitual needs of the business owner, and since they are the ones to say what is right, anything else is wrong.
The Unhealthy Business.
Not that this is healthy; problems in a business are always the result of someone trying to force their will on the reality that lives outside. The attempts to solve these problems usually leads to spending lots of money on consultants and little being done. Einstein was correct when he said, “you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.” The problem for the corporate director is that any genuine solution has to be wrong. What’s more, they have the money – that is to say, the power – to pay people to find the required evidence to prove their point (3).
Unless you understand the above, you will lack the foundations for a proper – that is to say, healthy – understanding of threefolding. Any solution that neglects an understanding of the subconscious and its various manifestations will be doomed to the kind of failure that can be seen in corporate culture. Not to mention modern Anthroposophy.
After all, the only thing that corporate culture can do is to act like animals. The real problem is to work out which animal the individual human has descended to; that is to say, which pattern of instincts their comfort zone conforms to. The problem here is that any solution demands the human act as a human and not as an animal; patience is wasted on such people for this will not help them.
(1) See my post, “Turning Cats Into Kittens.”
(2) For more on autism, see my only post on the subject, “A First Peek At Autism.”