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The Loneliness Of Schrodinger

September 4, 2018
by the gentle author

No-one knows where Schrodinger came from. He wandered in from the street one day and made his home in Shoreditch Church, where he lived for two years before he came to me in Spitalfields. In his vulnerability, Schrodinger learned to be lonely as a means of survival. Loneliness became his friend and his self-sufficiency protected him when life was uncertain.

On the street, Schrodinger experienced the capricious nature of humanity. He discovered their indifference to a stray cat. When the church offered Schrodinger a refuge, he spent long nights patrolling the empty building in the dark. Whenever he drew unwanted attention from dogs in the churchyard, he could escape through a metal grille into the crypt and sleep among the dusty coffins. Thus Schrodinger discovered an affinity with solitude.

When Schrodinger arrived in Spitalfields, he hid behind the old wing chair when anyone entered the room and looked over his shoulder warily while eating. If I approached him sitting on the floor, he frequently sprang up to run away – but keeping as much space around him as he did in Shoreditch Church proved a challenge in my house. He was a creature of hauteur who would not tolerate being stroked or petted and he never sought the opportunity to sit upon my lap as you might expect a cat to do.

Yet his caution was punctuated by sudden expressions of affection, especially when I presented him with plates of fresh food – as if he could not control his gratitude at such unexpected kindness. By the standards of domestic cats, Schrodinger’s expectations were low and he did not presume any privilege. Only in his sleep was he no longer vigilant. At night I came upon him taking his ease, stretched out and defenceless, even if by day he was circumspect.

These signs gave me hope that Schrodinger might overcome his loneliness and accept that he now has a permanent home where he will always be safe. I often saw him looking at me suspiciously, sizing me up. I wondered if he was questioning how long this episode of good fortune might last and whether it was only a matter of time before he was abandoned on the street again. If loneliness is his custom and source of security, Schrodinger cannot sacrifice it as long as he has uncertainty over his circumstance.

One day while I was writing at my desk, Schrodinger climbed up silently and slipped into the gap between me and the back of the chair. A round face appeared beneath my right armpit and a black tail curled round beneath my left armpit as he rubbed himself against my back and purred affectionately. Schrodinger had found a space where he fitted perfectly. Even if he still remained wary when I encountered him face to face, it was unquestionable progress.

To my delight, this new behaviour evolved quickly. So that he waited each day for me to sit at my desk and then ran to leap up, settling down there, snug between me and the back of the chair. As I sit writing now, I can feel his warmth against the small of my back. I wish I could say that he dictated stories to me but the fact is we inhabit separate reveries. We are peaceful in our mutual companionship that requires no eye contact, and I keep this private intimacy in mind when Schrodinger displays his habitual self-possession in other circumstances.

These days when I walk towards him sitting on the carpet, Schrodinger does not move out of the way in skittish discontent. He sits still, holding his ground and knowing that I will step over him or walk round. He spreads his shoulders and stretches out his front legs in the manner of the Sphinx, expressing a certain assurance in his territory and his right to be there.

As the summer has passed, Schrodinger’s confidence has grown. He will approach visitors to greet them and if I reach out a hand to him, he lifts his head up to meet it now. He knows I am not indifferent to him but I do not require him to become a cuddly domesticated subordinate either.We can exchange glances, even if he is more comfortable inhabiting his implacable vigil.

I observe Schrodinger’s internal isolation ebbing away as he becomes accustomed to his new life with me in Spitalfields, yet I respect his dignified self-possession, his remote sufficiency and his introspection. Loneliness shaped Schrodinger’s personality and it has endowed him with courage and strength of character. Loneliness is an essential part of Schrodinger’s nature. Schrodinger’s loneliness is his wisdom.

You may like to read my earlier story about Schrodinger

A New Home for Schrodinger

With your help, I am producing a handsome collection of stories of my old cat, THE LIFE & TIMES OF MR PUSSY, A Memoir Of A Favourite Cat to be published by Spitalfields Life Books on 20th September.

Support publication by preordering  THE LIFE & TIMES OF MR PUSSY and you will receive a signed and inscribed copy when the book is published.

Click here to preorder your copy

27 Responses leave one →
  1. September 4, 2018

    He is a handsome fellow!

  2. Jane permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Simply beautiful

  3. Amanda, Norfolk permalink
    September 4, 2018

    This beautiful and sensitively written story of human kindness has truly brightened my day.

  4. September 4, 2018

    I enjoy your blog every day but I love your cat pieces the best of all.

  5. John Barrett permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Lovely piece by GA today nice they are friends such detail too. Poet John Shirehampton Bristol

  6. September 4, 2018

    Sometime ago, you wrote about Schrodinger’s arrival. I’m very happy that Schrodinger is getting used to his new home and to humans. He is a splendid cat, perfectly dressed. Your account of Schrodinger’s “progress” is very moving.

  7. Maura Blackburn permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Touched by your description of life with Mr.Schro! Parallels life today for many people and how little touches of kindness, a word here and there, can make a huge difference in day to day living for so many and their “internal life”. Thank you.

  8. September 4, 2018

    He seems to be a fine cat indeed. Our rescue cat (I think she has been returned at least once to the cats’ home) is our delight but it took her a very long time to believe we wanted her to stay. She was wary all the time and did not invite or offer interaction. After a few months she suddenly changed and is looking out of the window nearby as I type. Like Schrodinger, she chooses to be near but to have some distance. That’s okay by me. Enjoy your new companion in solitude.

  9. Jill Wilson permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Yes – brilliant to hear that Schrodinger has quite literally found his niche with you. There is something very special about having a warm cat at the small of your back, especially if they are purring with contentment!

  10. pennyp permalink
    September 4, 2018

    I have been looking forward to another post about Schrödinger since he first appeared in your life and blog. Your account of his growing sense of security is so touching – long may your togetherness/ apartness continue.

  11. Georgina Briody permalink
    September 4, 2018

    A smile came to my face this morning reading Schrodinger’s story, I can so relate to his behaviour with the rescued cats I fostered and adopted. Patience, love and time are always the key.

    I’m so pleased he is beginning to trust you GA.

  12. Allison permalink
    September 4, 2018

    I’d love to see a photo of Schrodinger in his new spot in the chair crook behind your back, but he has cleverly chosen a spot where he cannot be snapped.
    Writing this with my own tuxedo cat keeping me company next to me (and keeping an eye on the woodpigeons collecting nesting from the buddleia tree) .

  13. September 4, 2018

    A heartwarming and beautifully written story.

  14. Gary Michael Horton permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Today’s article is a very emotionally charged piece discussing loneliness. However, your words created a rather more positive description by incorporating the element of power found within loneliness. A most reassuring and encouraging posting today. My cat Bonnie lived to a ripe old age, eventually passing away aged nineteen. She lived in our garden flat in Forest Hill, South London and experienced an idyllic life entirely free of illness during her whole life. Rare for a London feline

  15. September 4, 2018

    I am glad Schrodinger has found a permenant home with you. A home where there is warmth and consideration. I hope you have many peaceful years together.

  16. September 4, 2018

    For whatever reason, our cats have always had “S” names. Go figure!
    Scooter, Stanley, Sweetpea, Spiff, Spike…….all have been past notable members of the family.
    And presently we have Seymour and Satchmo in residence, both with their glistening black coats.

    Hats off to Schrodinger for finding his Forever Home with you. We look forward to hearing more and more about this wise baronial friend.

  17. Delia Folkard permalink
    September 4, 2018

    That’s one chilled out lucky cat! He certainly knew he was onto a good thing when you came along. It’s so good to wake up to some good news for a change, well done.

  18. Sally Baldwin permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Thank you for this, one of the loveliest cat essays I’ve ever read. Clearly Schrodinger found exactly the right home.

  19. Helen Breen permalink
    September 4, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, I don’t know much about cats, but this is a great piece of writing. Long live Schrodinger!

  20. Sue permalink
    September 4, 2018

    How lovely to hear of your new companion.

  21. September 4, 2018

    Hiya – love your stories … about Mr Pussy, and about Schrodinger … rings true to the paradox … great fun post – so pleased he’s settling in so well … cheers Hilary

  22. pauline taylor permalink
    September 4, 2018

    What a lovely cat, and your story reminds me of our lovely Sampson. Also a stray he tried to escape up the chimney on his first day with us , but it wasn’t long before he gained confidence in us until I awoke in the middle of the night and found him fast asleep on the pillow above my head. After that there was no looking back and he soon became the boss taking over our dog’s basket and forcing her to squeeze herself into his basket, which was not easy as she was a springer spaniel. If he got up first he would amuse himself by playing with her ears as they hung over the side. She never complained !

  23. Susan Martin permalink
    September 5, 2018

    What beautiful writing

  24. Michelle permalink
    September 5, 2018

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  25. mlaiuppa permalink
    September 5, 2018

    I met Schrodinger’s doppleganger locally, half a world away. He is up for adoption but alas, I cannot provide him a home as my dog would not tolerate sharing his mistress or his space with such an interloper and certainly not of the feline persuasion. This Schrodinger had a full mustache, one side being a generous handlebar, giving him a permanent smirk.

    I understand Schrodinger’s caution. My Uncle adopted a cat and they loved each other very much. Then he and my Aunt sold their house to move into a smaller apartment, easier for their increasing limited mobility. Oreo was to come with them. But I guess something in his past made him question my Uncle’s fealty. When Oreo saw the boxes being packed, he ran away. We suspect he had been abandoned before and that the moving boxes signaled to him that he would be abandoned again. Which my Uncle would never do but how do you tell that to a cat?

    I am so pleased to read that Schrodinger is settling in and learning trust and displaying his own brand of affection. Back of the chair is good. You can still work. If he trusts you enough to display his belly he has accepted you as his new room-mate or possibly, manservant.

    Have you tried him with catnip yet?

  26. Elaine Graybill permalink
    February 20, 2019

    This is one of the most perceptive things I have ever read about how loneliness shapes creatures, animal and human. Thank you.

  27. Esther permalink
    February 21, 2019

    Wonderful story about your new cat. Schrodinger is a beautiful name 🙂 Your house must have felt realy empty without Mr pussy.
    After 13 years with my cat Tijgertje(she was 18; braintumor 🙁 ) we buried her in our garden. Our new cat learned me to have more patience (she was put in the asyl by her former owners because of peeyingproblems in the house ) Now after 6 months she is totaly relaxed and lays sometimes next to us on the sofa and she the peeyingproblem has been solved.

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