Each of us is a precious gem

Here’s something we never thought about before, not that there aren’t a number of such things. It’s what we do most of the day, when we aren’t playing, grooming, eating or writing:  We mediate on the mysteries of the universe and the puzzling things we see outside our windows.

Napping or thinking?

Trouble doing what a cat does best — meditating on the nature of the universe.

Really. It just looks like we’re napping.

But we were thinking recently about Thailand, the home of our ancestors. While browsing the Internet – we periodically google “Siamese cat news” to see what turns up — we came across a story about a new campaign to promote Thai tourism. And it features a cat that looks like us! Handsome face, lithe body, big blue eyes. It’s us!


But if you clicked, you probably noticed that the writer doesn’t refer to that gorgeous feline representative of Thai culture as a Siamese cat. It’s something called a Wichian Mat. Which we found out means “moon diamond.”
Wow. We’re not only gorgeous, we’re poetry. Picture the warm gold and bronze of a harvest moon and the clear blue-white fire of a diamond. Then look at the subtle shades of our soft cream, mocha, tan and brown coats. Look into our sparkling opalescent blue eyes. It’s us.

Ol' Blue Eyes

Mischief shows off his gorgeous blue eyes.

So that’s when it hit us. All cats in Thailand are Thai cats, just as all cats in old Siam were Siamese cats. But not all Siamese cats were of the Wichian Mat breed. (Or, as we’ve also seen it spelled, wichien maat.)

Despite all the fuss over what constitutes a “real” Siamese cat in the rest of the world, if you go to Thailand, you still can see the real deal, the wichian mat, plus all sorts of other cats. We think that settles the argument once and for all.

It makes us wonder what else we’re making gigantic assumptions about. As we can attest just from watching our patio, the world is full of birds, for example. In our case, they’re American birds. But look closer, and you see robins, cardinals, several kinds of finches and sparrows, wrens, blue jays, doves (and we’ve heard tell of an awful, scary story about a dove and a hawk out there we won’t repeat. Thank goodness we weren’t there to see it, is all we will say.)

Some of these birds are native to North America. Some, like the sparrows and starlings, came from Europe. But each is special and distinct. If there were one less color, shape or song, our world would be poorer.

The world is full of diversity, and we miss out on its richness if we only think in broad categories and lump things together as being alike when that’s just not so. Look closer, and you’ll see each of us is a unique gem, bringing beauty to the place we grace with our presence.

Moon diamonds. Rare, exotic, mysterious, precious.

It’s a small, small world — and wonderful

We’re just two cats who live with a writer in the northeastern United States. We’re so “indoors” we back away when the front door is open in case somebody gets the wrong idea and thinks we want to go out. No thanks!

cats lounge on their tree

Here we are, watching the world go by from our sunny front window.

We like our comfy lives — warm, dry, fluffy beds, a big soft couch and toys whenever we want them, lots of windows that let us bask in the sunshine or watch the world go by, as the mood takes us. Also, our home is in a busy neighborhood next to a highway where traffic whizzes by too fast, so we know we’re better off in here

cats at the patio door

Check out the body language — that chipmunk is back!

A bonus is that we always know where the food bowls are (and that they’re safe from that pesky chipmunk that takes all the birdseed from the feeder if we look away for even a moment). Our water supply is cool and clean as well.

Since we started this blog, though, we’ve had quite an education in world geography. As of this writing, visitors from 22 countries — every continent but Africa and Antarctica — have come to this site. (If you’re interested, we’ve listed them below)

Whether they’ve been pleased or disappointed with what they’ve found here, we thank all our visitors with our warmest purrs. What a privilege to be noticed so widely!

cat with book in box

We liked the Kindle version so much, we just had to have the actual book.

We’d especially like to thank HHC (aka The Dalai Lama’s Cat). If she and her Transcriber hadn’t noticed our review of her book a couple of weeks ago and then graciously consented to an interview, none of this would have happened.

Here’s a shout-out, too, to the wonderful web of friends growing on Twitter. We love all of you!

All of this just goes to show what a little courtesy and kindness can do. Two virtually unknown cats — nobody really special except to ourselves and our Decca — have been able to reach out from their little world into a greater one of fun, information, advice, sympathy and friendship.

It warms our hearts with the hope that we contribute in our own small way to understanding between peoples and nations. What a small world it is, indeed! Just look:

United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, India, France, Cyprus, Denmark, Russian Federation, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, Slovenia, Chile, Switzerland, Singapore, Brazil and Hungary.

Philosophers and diplomats no doubt have said it better than we can: No matter where you live or what language you speak, more unites us than divides us. We should embrace whatever helps us remember, acknowledge and act on the things that bring us together. Even if it’s just two cats amusing themselves with a blog.

We invite you to join us on our journey.

Worth reading: ‘The Dalai Lama’s Cat’

‘The Dalai Lama’s Cat,’ by David Michie (Hay House, 2012), is available in print or in digital format.

Many readers will no doubt call The Dalai Lama’s Cat charming, delightful or even touching. Author David Michie’s new book is all those things, but we like it best for its gentle power.

As he tells the story of a stolen kitten rescued from certain death to become a most admired companion of the revered teacher, Michie interweaves the wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, but he never preaches. The journey of HHC (His Holiness’s Cat) – aka the Snow Lion of Jokhang, aka Mousie-Tung, aka Rinpoche – from self-centeredness to self-awareness is natural, not forced.

We could see a lot of our baby selves in the frightened little Himalayan in her early days, though we’ve led much more privileged lives ourselves. Torn abruptly from her mother, her need for reassurance, physical security and food – lots of food – is understandable. And like all young ones, her perceptions of reality become her reality, with herself as the only reference point that matters. And from there stems much misunderstanding and needless suffering.

But because HHC, like all cats, is a keen observer, she quickly learns by example that her way is rarely the best way. Her baby steps on the road to enlightenment are frequently amusing, but in the end, they are instructive. We wish we were more like her!

Her horror when instinct overwhelms her and she attacks a mouse; her embarrassment when she must acknowledge the results of her gluttony; her chagrin when she begins to see that no one should be judged by appearance; her growing pleasure when she realizes that true happiness comes from serving others – these are all moments any reader can relate to.

(Thanks to the incident with the mouse, we are looking at our toy mice differently.  Is this kind of play helping us to develop compassion for all creatures? That chipmunk that taunts us from the patio – how does he feel, seeing our narrowed eyes and lashing tails? As HH would say, we all have choices.)

Chief among HHC’s teachers-by-example, apart from His Holiness himself, of course, are his assistants, Chogyal and Tenzin, the voluble Mrs. Trinci and local restaurateur Franc – who, for too long, sadly, confuses the outward trappings of practice with the inward peace that comes mindfulness and genuine humility. Michie deftly sketches these key figures in HHC’s life; each, often unwittingly, leads HHC to insight.

We especially liked the chapter in which both HHC and two young monks discover that all can redirect their steps onto a better path, no matter how unpromising their beginnings. Truly, we cannot know how our actions today will ultimately affect others.

We also catch through HHC’s eyes glimpses of His Holiness’s busy life, including a parade of celebrities and state leaders from around the world (and HHC is discreet about these encounters), as well as intimate moments shared between HH and HHC (but, again, our feline narrator is discreet).

Nearly every page features the best kind of humor – warm, inclusive and never mocking. As HHC discovers, the proper object of humor is ourselves. From there, compassion grows most surely.

We recommend this book highly. Suitable for older children through adults, it can be read as an entertaining story, but we predict you will find yourself going back from time to time just to reread favorite parts or to remind yourself of a particular instructive moment. Through HHC’s personal journey, we found much encouragement toward right living (we certainly could be more mindful about our Fancy Feast).  

Finally: Is this story “true,” as in factual? That’s beside the point. The Dalai Lama’s Cat is what every tale should be – true to universal principles and true to the desire within every living creature to be loved.

Michie is the author of the non-fiction best-sellers Buddhism for Busy People and Hurry Up and Meditate and a number of novels.

We appreciate that Michie this time chose to look through the eyes of cat. Too many people stereotype us as selfish and aloof, instead of taking time to understand us for who we are. By telling the tale from HHC’s perspective, Michie reminds readers that, as His Holiness teaches, every individual – cat or human — seeks to enjoy happiness and avoid suffering.

For those unfamiliar with the Dalai Lama, Buddhism or cats, this book is a splendid introduction. For those already acquainted with these topics, The Dalai Lama’s Cat belongs on your bookshelf with the no-doubt weightier tomes you possess. It is beautiful in its directness and simplicity.

Follow HHC at @DalaiLamasCat or on Facebook, where you can also read more and see photos of other cats (and people, too).

We give this book our highest rating: 5 Paws!