Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reflections on the Cat

The Egyptian word for “cool” is synonymous with “cat”. It has to be. “Suave”, “smooth”, “debonair”, all with an only slightly suppressed savagery that is just below the silky fur. And I think their reverence for the cat is evident in their art; everbody looks like cats, with the eyes and the long, lithe lines of the bodies and clothing.

While the ancients revered the cat, modern humans hold them in high regard for other reasons. Oh, the original reasons are there, they are so “cool”, but they can rub against an “owner” and show their unique brand of “affection”, that has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress. Also, when they’re young, they exhibit such fun and youthful abandon when they play, and you can’t help but say “awww” when they fall asleep on the spot.

I am not a cat lover, really. Not a cat hater, mind you, but I just don’t LOVE them. They’re cool and cute and all, and I’ll even admit that they even have “personalities”, but I draw the line at believing that they talk. Cats can’t talk. They communicate on a basic level, but when people tell me that their cat talks to them…no. I guess I’m just a couple of notches up the scale from a “Cat Tolerator”. See here for our latest foray into the cat's world.

There is a site on the Web, “I Can Has Cheezeburger” has the “LOL Cats”; pictures of cats, mainly, in different poses with different expressions, captioned with intentionally misspelled and mispronounced snippets that are sometimes hilarious. Some of the pictures and captions indicate that the submitter is perhaps a cat lover with the “she said such-and-such” and “she looked at me and said, ‘That loooks like a great omlette, could you add some more mozerella, please’”. Sometimes it seems that the people who post the most unflattering pictuers of kittehs (the LOL Cats preferred spelling) may be in my camp.

My Dad has a cat, which may come as a surprise, especially if you know my Dad. In the past, if you asked him if he liked cats, his immediate reply would be, “Yeah, I like cats, I like ‘em FAST.” His favorite sport was catching uninvited tomcats in our back yard. He kept tennis balls by the back door, so when one came on the radar, he would creep out with ammo in hand to wing at the normally calm feline. When they realized they were under attack, they often sprang for the fence, and often underestimate the distance, crashing into the chain link with a satisfying “CHIINNGGG”.

His current status as a cat owner began when he got a black and white female Manx appropriately named Stump. The reason he liked the cat was the jacked-up hindquarters were reminiscent of a bobcat. Her disposition, while not mean, was also in line with that of the members of the lynx family. She was a killer. Of birds, and grasshoppers and lizards and rabbits. She was her own cat, but she respected PawPaw. Her replacement, Daisy, is a half-Persian, half-Manx orange predator equal to her predecessor. My Mom brushes her, when allowed, my Dad makes her eat all of her cat food in the dish before he gives her any more. He tells her when he spots a green lizard, and she knows the signal to attack. She has been known to kill and eat the most elegant of avian visitors to the property, including cardinals, hummingbirds and mockingbirds. A beautiful, fluffy cat, equally deadly under the fur.

Mark Twain penned “A Cat’s Tale” many years back for his daughters. It includes as many “cat-“ words as humanly possible, and still makes sense. “Catastrophy”, “cat calls”, “cat-pipe” and the main cat’s name, Catarauggus, are all used shamelessly. I don’t picture Twain as a cat lover who doted on his feline charges, but I think he liked them. No more, no less.

I like cats, too. When they are in kitten stage, they are sources of endless mirth with the antics displayed. As they grow, their feigned affection is soothing. My favorite trait of cats is their coolness. And my favorite activity is to crack the cool exterior, if even for a second. In neighborhoods, driving slowly, if a cat I spy, I wait until my car is right next to him to bark like a dog or honk the horn of my chariot and watch him come apart at the seams, albeit momentarily, only to regain the previously regal pose, but with a slightly irritated expression.

The only cat I can’t tolerate is the one that shies away or just won’t come to me. I mean, if you’re gonna have a cat around, you might as well enjoy it, right?

1 comment:

charleyd said...

Like you, I neither hate nor love cats. A cat wouldn't last 10 seconds here around our pack. I'd be scooping its digested remains off the kennel floor.

I used to run the tractor that picked up the piles of leaves stacked on the street near the curb. It had a side-ways bucket that looked and operated like a large pincer.

There was a cat just sitting in the street preening itself. It seemed to not be concerned about the noise my tractor made as I barreled toward it.

I couldn’t believe I got as close as I did.

I shoved the down lever to the 'float' position and the bucket hit the asphalt in free-fall. It a let out a deafening BANG!! And I've never seen a cat run so fast. It left a trail behind it, too. I LITTERALLY scared the $**T out it.