A cat's tale

I hesitate to tell you about my cats, because I know that some people don’t like cats. In fact one of these strange people came across me carrying one of my cats in the front yard of my home at the weekend and expressed the opinion that he believed I of all people would know better.

I’ve heard that line before, although less often as age and marriage has limited my opportunities to behave irresponsibly, and I’ve always been intrigued as to why anyone would expect that I would know better, especially that I of all people would know better.

My chider paused only briefly to issue his remark and too briefly for me to develop a response. If I had it would have had something to do with my carrying the cat lest it savage his mangy terrier. And I might have added that a cat would never wear the poncey little coat he’d strapped to his rat-like dog. So you can see I didn’t respond because I didn’t have a worthwhile response.

The fact is I was carrying Molly inside, where she’d be safe from hate and where it was my intention to share with her some quality time, or QT as we know it. That includes a massage around her ears, to which she is especially partial and which starts her motor purring, a scratch on the tummy and five minutes on my lap as I am transported to wherever we’re transported by contented, purring cats.

Then she’d have washed herself, a quick wash rather than the morning’s more thorough job, and there is something calming in watching a cat wash. I especially enjoy the scrubbing of the face, the dampening of the inside edge of the wrist then it being dragged with pressure across an ear and cheek. A dog washing itself is, by comparison, a haphazard affair and an unpalatable sight. And I know people who will tell you that cats are dirty as they allow their dog to lick their face!

Molly, whose name we changed from Milly to better distinguish her from her step sister, Tilly, is a ragdoll cat with white socks and the markings of a chocolate pointer Siamese. The ragdoll influence causes her to relax completely, to flop, when you pick her up, to the point that she can be difficult to pick up.

We were given her by a friend who is one of those obsessed cat-rescue people, and in the year or so since Molly has doubled in weight. Apart from my preference for fat cats, the extra weight is a blessing for the white pigeons of my backyard. When Molly launches herself at them it’s more lumber than sprint and so the pigeons are well into the air by the time she arrives, and while she still tries to hurl herself into the air after them she’s doing very well to get four paws off the ground at one time.

The white pigeons are the only birds Molly stalks, and that’s because she has very poor eyesight, poor to the point that she runs into posts and cupboards several times a day. She’s prone to running into tree trunks when I turn the hose on her if I see her stalking the pigeons, and while nasty people would find that funny I try to be sympathetic. If I can capture the collision on my iPhone I’ll post it on the blog so you can be sympathetic too.

Molly communicates with her family members with an extraordinary range of miaows, while Tilly – you may recall it was Tilly that repaired a leg fracture a year ago herself – has such a weak miaow she communicates with her eyes. Tilly will, for example, stare at you until she captures your eyes then she’ll turn her eyes to the empty bowl or the door.

Scientists tell us that in the measure that matters, cats have twice as many neurons in the cerebral cortex as dogs and are therefore much more intelligent. And that explains why a cat refuses to learn such silly tricks as begging or rolling over or chasing a ball.

Cats think for themselves, so that it is the cat, not someone who has the gall to see himself as the cat’s owner, who decides what he or she will do. And food does not change a cat’s opinion of a person. Cats do know better.

Tell us about the cat in your life. And emailed photos for the blog are welcome.

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