Thursday, December 29, 2005

not to be catty...

My friends have cats. That’s not the worst of it: it seems that most of the bloggers listed at the side here have cats. So anything I say about cats is bound to elicit strong thoughts and feelings in the vast majority of readers.

My attitude toward cats has been that they are best left to their devices. Preferably in a barn where they can chase mice and in that way participate in the race for the survival of the stronger species. Though I love birds so I have issues with cats there.

But every once in a while there will come a cat that I do like. No, not the cute little kitten, such as the one I took in as a grad student. That one clawed at my face to get me out of bed before noon – a horrible and spiteful little act. No grad student I ever knew got up before noon. I had to, because of The Cat.

I’m thinking that I like my friend Ed’s cat, Isis. (His other cat -- what can I say… barn life for you as far as I’m concerned.)

But I see that Isis has rights, many rights, ones that any number of people can only dream of. The type of rights I generally associate with the US Constitution. For him it’s all about liberty and the pursuit of happiness with a lot of freedom to participate in commerce thrown in: of the food-transporting kind. Except that he doesn’t have to transport it very far as there are bowls of cat food everywhere. Ed tells me that this is the way it must be with two cats around. Otherwise they fight. Granted. My sister and I always had separate bowls of soup and cereal.

Typically I let Ed know that I am dropping by his sheep shed. But last night his phone was endlessly busy and so I showed up unannounced. Isis obviously had not been told that I was about to usurp his dominant position and hold on the household and so he was out and about, doing his cat thing. Smugly, I entered the sheep shed. The hour is mine, I'm thinking.

Not true. Within minutes Isis, his cat instincts finely set to detect possible usurpers, was back at the shed.

And so I have become accustomed to devoting the first hour of a visit to basically kissing up to Isis. It’s the only way to buy an hour or two of freedom from cat interference into pretty much anything – from sipping wine and munching chocolate to resting with a good book, or what have you. (The cat rejects the wine I bring over, thinking probably that anything of indifferent vintage is not worthy of him, but he sniffs the French chocolate appreciatively. Thanks Isis.)

Okay, so Isis I like. But convince me that other cats out there, the ones that jump all over your fine chocolates and your friend’s lap at awkward times are to be admired and adored. What other beast has such privileges? Fish stay in their tanks, dogs stay in their kennels or get the basement treatment when guests come. Cats? Cats set the agenda. And owners sheepishly acquiesce. That includes sheep shed-living owners.

But I do like Isis.

Christmas 05 154
Larry, the other one, watching the dusk roll in. and me.