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A Piece of My Mind
August 21, 2002

Cries and Whiskers

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2002;288(7):806. doi:10.1001/jama.288.7.806

My mother has an intimate and poetic relationship with Tommy. They have been companions for about 10 years. If Tommy were not present to greet Mom every morning, I am not sure she would get out of bed.

Tommy is Mom's gray tabby cat. He's a mature feline with a boyish demeanor and physiognomy. When I come in in the morning to wake Mom, he stirs, she reaches for him, and he salutes her with a leisurely "Ngaow" (the closest I can come to a phonetic reproduction of the sound he makes). I know that once Mom has located Tommy, she will be able to rise. Tommy also has a calming effect on her when she is upset. If she feels anxious and he takes one of his saunters across her lap, her worry lines disappear, at least temporarily. And while I am affectionate with Mom, I think she experiences more uninhibited physical closeness with Tommy. They perform a duet of caresses, Mom's fingers gently flowing over his silky fur, his head and tail weaving in and out of her hands. One day as Mom was awakening from a nap, her hair was spread across her pillow. Tommy, observing her awakening, rubbed his whiskers against the fan of softness, the short gray and black hairs of his face mingling with her long gray ones. Mom and Tommy were intertwined, blissful.

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