Today I introduce you to Maitri. She's my exotically beautiful white cat with a lingering hint of blue in one eye, the other golden. I call her my Zen kitty; in fact, in Sanskrit, her name means unconditional loving kindness, and that really fits her. Calm, curious, friendly, patient, mellow (mostly), very much living in the moment. Intentional and determined, with a plush coat of fur made for petting… when she's in the mood. People not particularly fond of cats like her. People fond of cats love her. She has just now started purring at the age of three… what a pleasant discovery!
That said, she's deaf, and often her primitive ancestry takes over her inner quiet with a full range of roaring meows and antics that entertain and sometimes startle, especially in the night. She makes me laugh out loud. Every day.
I adopted her one week after I adopted Lucy, my young black and white beauty. This was in Doha, Qatar, 2012. I had Lucy at the vet for her one week post adoption check up, and I stood near a cage housing kittens for adoption. All of a sudden the door latch came undone, and this adorable white kitten started falling out. Quickly catching her, I looked into her one blue eye and one hazel eye, fell instantly in love, and said "Oh, you're coming home with me, and your name is Maitri."
Within a few days, I suspected she was deaf, something the vet would confirm at the next visit. As I reflected my disappointment out loud that she would never hear me call her name, the vet's tongue in cheek comment "Oh she'll be able to read lips" cheered me a bit. Still, my sense of loss lingered, so I decided to journal it, and this is what emerged:
I adopted a kitty - named Maitri,
A sweet little white ball of fur.
Unconditional loving kindness
Is what I had in mind for her.
Her eyes, one blue and one hazel
Search my eyes and connect, so I think.
With deep concentration she watches,
Then pokes mine before I can blink.
I'm sad as I think of her deafness…
She'll never know to come when I call.
Yet now as I cry in my grief-ness
She appears, loving kindness and all.
Her playfulness, goofiness delight me;
It's so good to laugh out loud.
Her softness and tiny-ness quiet me;
She's Maitri, loving kindness avowed.
Now, back in Kansas City, we share our home with Kiki, a sleek black indoor/outdoor kitty, who came to live with us in spring of 2014. Because Maitri is deaf, it's not safe for her to be out and about on her own. But she clearly communicates her desire to do so by standing at the door and offering anything from persistent plaintive mews to proclaiming her loud ME-OUTs. Our compromise? Harness and leash. A longer leash for the backyard, a shorter one for our walks. Yes. For our walks. It's really quite fascinating to watch her explore her world, remembering that she cannot hear the birds, or the kids playing, or (yikes!) the cars. She and Kiki have made names for themselves in the neighborhood, and I'm known as the lady who walks her cats: Maitri on a leash, Kiki walking beside… or behind… or in front… or not at all. And Lucy? Inside, please and thank you.
Maitri has the best stories to tell, and she is in the process of writing her memweowr. Seriously. OK, it's really me. Using her character as first person. But this is the only time I'll say it.
In her Maitri's Memweowr Instagram account, she tells tales of her life and that of her human and catpanions. She teaches mindfulness and stillness, provides insightful observations, writes poems, and is featured, along with Lucy and Kiki in short videos. Her following is growing, which is cool, because she wants to spread her unconditional loving kindness - and her quirkiness - all over the world.
Every Instagram post is also shared to her Facebook Fan Club page, and she's got YouTube on her mind for the future. She just needs to figure out the best way to get there and stay there. She might decide to ask another human for help.
Oh, and another thing: mosaics. Maitri Mosaics. This kitty has a tendency to knock things over for fun. In my undecorated Doha flat I gave her, among other toys, a bowl and plastic balls to play with and we brought those back to KC. So, I didn't think twice when unpacking decorative items from my year-away storage.
Her curiosity and resourcefulness stunned me.
I learned the hard way, too late to save the Moroccan vase and the Norwegian glass plate featuring a beautiful abstract of green and red Aurora Borealis against a sky of cobalt blue (my 50th birthday present being a trip to see the northern lights in person - and I did!). Plus some other pieces here and there. Finally I discovered Quakehold, museum putty designed to protect fine furnishings against the rumblings of earthquakes. Or in my case, cat-quakes. If you come to my home, you will see globs of the stuff securing photo frames, candle holders, knick knacks, and anything else Maitri-worthy. Including the mosaic plate I made out of the pieces of my Norwegian plate. There are more Maitri Mosaics to come, as I've kept the bits and pieces along the way. Plus I dropped a dish one day...
So. That's Maitri, unconditional loving kindness. And quirkiness and fun. But don't take my word for it. She likes you already and invites you to like her back, and follow her life journey and reflections on Instagram or Facebook. No obligation, of course, because her love and kindness are unconditional.
Is she cool or what?