My grandmother has an awful cat. She picked up the cat from a shelter back when she was still living in her own home. With her children long gone, her husband passed, and little time to take care of a dog, it was no surprise that my grandmother greeted me at her door one day with a squirming ball of fur that she called “Buffy.”
Buffy hisses, she bites, she jumps up on furniture always – including surfaces meant for preparing or serving food, which naturally leads to constant, thorough scrubbings. She hates being pet, picked up, or otherwise bothered by anyone but my grandmother, and even then her presumed owner is given a short leash. My grandmother always laughed when Buffy walked through a Scrabble game or knocked holiday cards off of the fireplace mantle. We quickly learned that Buffy had license to do what my brother and I as babies would have swiftly been punished for, and learned to accept that my grandmother would never see her lengthy list of faults.
Pet owners, myself included, notoriously project their own emotional states or wants onto the actions of their animals, and my grandmother was no exception. She loved Buffy, Buffy loved her – at least, from my grandmother’s perspective there was love returned – and any word otherwise was quickly dismissed.
“Every morning, she wakes at the same time and prepares my breakfast. The same meal as always, the same kind girl as always. With her fur always perfectly in place, she is prettier than anyone as she stands up straight and walks out into the morning light.
-Daru, She and Her Cat ~ Everything Flows, Episode 1
She and Her Cat is the relaxing, undiluted essence of being a pet owner. This first part of a four-part short, which is a remake of Makoto Shinkai’s 1999 OVA, is told solely from the cat’s point of view. The perspective of the titular cat, named Daru, is one of a kind and loving friend – the way most of us love to see our pets. It’s warm and reassuring, not because life is always good, but because the cat’s presence is obviously a source of comfort for the girl, regardless of whether the cat believes it or not. Daru is the quintessential pet whose mere existence can be a wellspring of determination or strength to face another tough day.
Previously, I wrote about one of my many experiences with my former dog, Piper, and how she seemingly sheltered me on a day that I was ill. To this day, I can’t interpret her actions as anything else. However, the reality of the situation is that I’ll never know what Piper was thinking because Piper couldn’t speak to me directly, try as she might. I’m left to interpret her actions, which I chose to take as signs of love and companionship. From these presumed affectionate displays, I found my own strength to fight through my illness.
Buffy may be a monster to the rest of the family, but to my grandmother she’s a dear friend, one who has now been with my grandmother throughout her descent into dementia. In a life where very little appears familiar due to memory loss, Buffy is a welcome constant. She’s part of the routine that keeps my grandmother going. In this way, She and Her Cat perfectly encapsulates what it’s like not only to be a cat owner, but a pet owner.