Recently my husband Gene and I traveled throughout Europe. We rented a car as we always do and drove along the back roads, staying in quaint, out-of-the-way inns. The only thing that distracted me from the wonder of the trip was the terrible longing I felt for our cat Perry. I always miss him when we travel, but this time, because we were gone for more than three weeks, my need to touch his soft fur and to hold him close became more and more intense. With every cat we saw, the feeling deepened.
We were high in the mountains of France one morning, packing the car before resuming our trip, when an elderly couple walked up to the car parked next to ours. The woman was holding a large Siamese cat and speaking to him in French.
I stood watching them, unable to urn away. My yearning for Perry must have been written all over my face. The woman glanced at me, turned to speak to her husband and then spoke to her cat. Suddenly she walked right over to me and, without one word, held out her cat.
I immediately opened my arms to him. Cautious about the stranger holding him, he extended his claws, but only for a few seconds. Then he retracted them, settled into my embrace and began to purr. I buried my face in his soft fur while rocking him gently. Then, still wordless, I returned him to the woman.
I smiled at them in thanks, and tears filled my eyes. The woman had sensed my need to hold her cat, the cat had sensed that he could trust me, and both, in one of the greatest gifts of kindness I have ever received, had acted upon their feelings.
It's comforting to know the language of cat lovers ? and cats ? is the same the world over.