HARP DITTIES TO TRANQUILIZE KITTIES?
by Sylvia Ann
The Fourth is the most noisome day of the year for the Fur- and Featherbies. Can a harp soothe a cat? “Music for cats and july4 fireworks” is a fascinating read, and Ms. Raimond’s recitals raise the hopes of parents opposed to pill-popping.
The psychiatrist Milton Erickson treated his patients with hypnotherapy. His concept of the ‘Id’ was as bright as Freud’s was dark, and although his work has had its detractors, it remains influential worldwide. In seconds – not minutes – his indiscernibly subtle choice of words and gestures induced in his unknowing patients a hypnotic trance structured to free them from their afflictions without medication or years of psychoanalysis, a modest feat to Erickson, who held the belief that we all live in a self-inducted trance. He not only treated patients with psychological pain and the pain of terminal cancer, he had a recurrence of childhood polio, and blocked his own pain – a more difficult challenge as he aged – through self-hypnosis. Of interest to writers, he also revised the drafts of his papers and books with the eye of an impartial critic, his hypnotic trance suppressing his awareness of critiquing his own work.
Meditation, religious fervor, CV and pain management tapes, biofeedback, hypnosis, drugs and alcohol – all are mind-altering. When chickens and snakes can be hypnotized, when music relaxes dairy cows, the mellow tonalities of a harp may mesmerize our cats. Moreover, on the Fourth of July, there’s still another way to mitigate their stress.
Whether it’s true or flimflam, it was rumored that Japanese Alan Aldas, faced with dwindling supplies, repaired shattered bodies without anesthesia, an ordeal the troops endured by a hair because a blowtorch held near their feet blunted the pain of surgery.
Explosions drown out angelic glissandos, and cats are so horror-stricken by fireworks, another percussive layer of noise, by partially muffling the hullaballoo seeping through the doors and windows, can pacify the cats if they understand its source. In the absence of an unbelievably high-powered white noise machine, a satellite radio can come to the rescue when rockets rattle teacups.
Even kids are discovering the ’40s, and parents who groove to the Big Band Era of Miller, Dorsey and Shaw, et al. will want to tune out the ‘You and You Alone’ pledges of monogamy slush. What a Fourth of July cannonade needs is Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s cranked-to-the-hilt, thunderous, foot-stompin’ ‘Old Black Magic.’ Rat-Pack Sammy’s ballistic rendition of ‘I Got Rhythm.’ Krupa’s s blurred mitts beating the **** out of his snare-drums. Mach 10 Minnelli belting ‘New York’ into the stratosphere.
Against all expectation, this uproar not only lulls our cats when they know where it comes from – all the more so if we sing along – they’ll try to relax if we cradle them in our lap all the while, coddling their inner kittyhood with words of sympathy and praise. It’s needful to rock them to and fro until the noise-lovers run low on their blithering cherry-bombs. Which they won’t until midnight and beyond. Yet petrified as they are by the blitzkrieg, our cats will beam as they nestle against us, entwined in our arms, showered with kisses, safe and secure, pleased to be praised for being so good and brave.
Caring parents will also know that Independence Day was possibly celebrated on August 4, meaning we can picnic at home, with a clear conscience, on July 4, the Day of Armageddon for our little friends. What’s more, we’ll know that hoopla and hotdogs – haven’t Americans had enough weenies? – that suds and pop and swarming crowds on the beach and parade grounds are less important than sparing our cats the trauma of having to fend for themselves as we load the car drive off to the boom-bash, or lock them in an empty house with no Mom or Dad to hold them close when the neighborhood is a warzone, with buzz-bombs and block-busters flying through the air and clattering on the roof.
Will we be viewed as unpatriotic by right-thinking folk if we dare to stay home and toss together a delectable fruit, potato or sea-salad, a feast that won’t tip, wilt, or be dive-bombed by horseflies? What if we are? Who gives a tittle? Where is the joy in packing and trundling a movable feast to some picnic ground infested with sand-fleas, with rapists hunkered down in the bushes next to the restrooms, with underbred revelers wandering around, beer can in hand, babbling into their cell phones and throwing footballs over our heads as we sit hunched on a picnic bench – the underside of the table plastered with wads of gum – slapping away at Nile virus mosquitoes sucking our blood, rummaging through our picnic basket for eating utensils and paper plates the wind whips out of our hands?
If we stay home, we might open a book and read about Jefferson, Franklin and other great founders of our republic, what they did after they signed the Declaration – were they apprehensive or euphoric?- what were they wearing, what did they eat and drink afterwards? Was the day sunny?
If we stay home, we can play Ms. Raimond’s CDs for our cats all day long, to bolster their strength. And when it’s dark we can turn on our radio, lift the cats in our lap, kick off our shoes, sink back in the sofa, switch on the telly (its sound turned down) and settle ourselves in a ringside seat to the nation’s most dazzling fireworks, fountains of light, floral explosions of nebulae against a velvet sky.
What loving cat parent – and lover of comfort – would choose to leave home on this Holiday from Hell? Who needs luxury? All that’s required are familiar surroundings and people and animals we enjoy. Why not serve the simple, fabulous picnic fare we prepared that morning, fluff up the cushions and bask in the pleasure of intimate solitude with our cats, dogs and canary birds, with our friends and family?
And bring on the harp!