Animals teach us about ourselves. Or, as animal behaviorist Temple Grandin says in the title of her book, "Animals make us human." As someone who wasn't allowed to have a dog or a cat as a child, I never realized how much this is true until I grew up, bought a house, and acquired cats and chickens. I never thought a chicken would help me feel the entire range of my emotions or that a cat would teach me to be happy with my life as it is.
Enter Lucy. Lucy the cat lived with a good friend of mine for a few months and did fine at their home, but my friend later told me that Lucy seemed unhappy cooped up in the house. When she arrived at our house, she was terrified by the mere presence of our non-aggressive other cat Patch, despite my careful study and observance of "cat introduction techniques". I tried to keep the two cats apart but our resident cat was too friendly and curious and Lucy was too...well...Lucy.
I'm certain she had no peripheral vision. Lucy would be playing with a shoe string or twist-tie, with all her attention focused on that, and Patch would get one inch from her face before she'd notice. She'd go into a hissing ball of flattened-eared Halloween kitty until she'd poop. No joke. Patch scared the poop out of her. I never knew that expression and its variations had roots in cat behavior.
Wherever Lucy was--she didn't like it. The house was too confining, the yard was too boring, the field and the barn were too scary (because heaven forbid she run into that Patch cat), the garage had too much cement, the flower beds had leaves that moved in the breeze and frightened her to death. The only thing Lucy wanted to do was eat and sit in the windowsill and complain. Until she discovered the field on the other side of the highway. Then, the only thing she wanted to do was run across the highway. Never mind that we have three perfectly good fields behind our home that are far away from the threat of man-made vehicles on four wheels.
Lucy loved to be cuddled and we did that as much as we could. My little boy loved her so much he gave her a long list of nick-names which he cooed to her every day, my favorite of which was "Princess of Hiss-A-Lot".
We'll miss Lucy. But I take lots of comfort in the idea of an animal heaven where Lucy has much more grandeur with which she can be dissatisfied. Perhaps our other cat, Milo, is giving her lessons on how to make friends and how to be happy.