Cats are a lot like people. You never know what they’re going to do next. And like people, they come in all shapes and sizes, varied personalities, and capacities for mischief.
A cat can be lying perfectly still and with a shocking suddenness bolt with lightning speed to another part of the house. Just like that, faster than a speeding bullet. How do they do that?
But this trick is not the cat specie’s most impressive. No way. Cats are at their finest when they demonstrate their talent for indifference. Cats can sleep, lounge, or practice the art of snootiness in a room stuffed with 25 people. You can stand on your head, whistle, or recite the Gettysburg Address in front of a cat, and if it’s so inclined, the cat will ignore you with an insouciance James Bond couldn’t match. Yes, cats “do apathy” with enthusiasm—ah, an oxymoron, enthusiastic apathy. But that’s cat behavior.
I had a relative—won’t tell you what kind for the relative was a good person—who didn’t like cats. Fair enough. It’s a free country. But the relative periodically told tales of men or boys in the relative’s childhood hometown who liked to kill cats. I don’t know whether the relative ever did this, but even as a wee lad, these stories didn’t engage me.
I, thankfully, had a father who grew up on the farm. And the farm was still five minutes away throughout my childhood. So not only did my father love and respect animals of all kinds, so did I. Even cats like the ones on the farm that would sit patiently near my grandmother as she hand-milked a cow, waiting for her to aim a part of the cow’s anatomy at them and squirt milk into their eager mouths. If you’ve never seen or participated in this trick you haven’t lived.
I remember, I don’t know why, Dad holding kittens once. I think we were somewhere other than home. But the point is I remember him intervening to protect these kittens from I can’t remember what and then gently petting and talking kindly to them. It’s just a blip from childhood, but it is a powerful memory, one that helped form my love for animals and later interest in wildlife preservation and “the outdoors,” what we now call the environment. I'm glad for Dad's example.
I admit cats are not my favorite domestic animal. Dogs hold that position. But cats are endlessly creative, energetic, and interesting animals. To me they’re fun to watch while dogs are fun to physically enjoy, i.e. wrestle and roughhouse.
I know all the arguments about feral cats and too many cats and why do we need cats and cats kill small game animals. But those are people issues, not cat issues. If people took proper care of cats we wouldn’t have cat problems.
So here’s to cats: one minute calm the next minute over the moon. Cats are a lot like people.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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