What’s The Use?

Overheard in homes, coffee shops and large pick-up trucks across the country:  “Cats are useless animals.”  Since I’m a member of the subject species, you might expect me to feel quite offended by this.  I would say that I’m more perplexed than outraged.

Why so?  First of all, I think you’ll find that very few, if any cats aspire to be “useful” to humans. Our providers do not expect us to fetch their slippers or guard the house. We are not suitable companions for road trips, nor do we help humans to maintain healthy fitness levels by taking them for twice-daily walks.  No, no, no.  Humans who appreciate cats do not do so because we are useful, but because we are a warm, quiet and relatively undemanding presence in their homes. I dare say we add grace and beauty to their lives. We desire, above all, to have our needs met and the fact that certain discriminating humans find pleasure in doing this makes for a happy collaboration.

Having said that, I will draw your attention to rural cats. I doubt I’ve ever heard a farmer state that barn cats are useless. For some inexplicable reason, humans the world over are not partial to rodents. Without the intervention of the local cat population, they would find themselves spending a lot of their time devising and carrying out extermination programs. The relationship between the agricultural community and its cats is more quid pro quo than affectionate, but that suits the needs of both the humans and the cats. Farmers welcome the presence of cats because they see them earning their keep and cats in turn appreciate having a roof overhead and ready access to the local rodent population.

My second point comes in the form of a question: Why would someone expect a household pet to be useful anyway? I would think that urban-living humans value cats more for the companionship and comfort they provide than for their practicality. In turn, we domestic felines appreciate humans and even develop a certain warm affection for our personal providers. It might be muted compared to the sloppy neediness of dogs, but it is real nonetheless. We find that our providers relish any display of feline affection because it is bestowed so sparingly.  In short, the unspoken contract between humans and domestic cats has no need of a “usefulness clause” because we provide for human needs in other, more important areas.

I would implore my human readers to convey these important points to anyone they encounter who spews out thoughtless statements about the value (or lack thereof) of cats.

 

If you are worthy of its affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave. ~ Theophile Gautier

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rabblefish/3063006392/

Paws For Thought

Tickety-tick…scrape…scrape…

I watch my paws moving with ease over keyboard and mouse, typing what turns out to be a huge load of drivel.

 Select all.  Delete.  Sigh!

Here I am, sitting on the desk in my provider’s study.  The sun beams through open blind slats and oh, how good the warmth feels!  Its siren call lures me: “Cato, Cato…join the rest of the feline world for a nice, long afternoon nap.  That will help inspire you to write something worth reading.”  

No!  I shake my head with determination and do a few stretches.  Placing my claws just so on the keyboard again, I continue.

Tickety-tick, tickety-tick…

 ***********

How’s that for an intro?  I’ve given you a glimpse into my life as a writer and the challenges that plague me when I sit in front of the computer monitor.  Why do it then?  Why not just relax and live for the moment, as is the preference of most other cats?  All I can say to that is I’ve tried it and it doesn’t suit me.

I am a cat who likes to think and to talk about it in the process.  Felines in my neighbourhood will listen for a bit and some share a few observations of their own here and there.  Then they become distracted by insects, birds, interesting aromas and the like and off they go, conversation left dangling and myself wondering why I bothered in the first place.

My providers seem to enjoy long discussions with other humans, but cannot seem to get the hang of cat language.  To them, “Meow” is just a sound that means, “Feed me” or “Let me outside”.  No discussion possible.  I’ve resigned myself to the limits of this relationship and have carried on with what my British forbears call “a stiff upper lip.”

And then came the day when my outlook changed altogether. I was keeping female provider (henceforth known as Miranda) company as she fiddled and faddled with her computer.  Quite suddenly, the proverbial light bulb lit up my mind and I realized something.  She was communicating with others through this machine.  Why shouldn’t I do the same?  From that day forward, I watched, listened and learned whenever Miranda and male provider (henceforth known as Jacob) used their computers.

It was not easy, but I learned to read human language and then to write it.  When my providers were out of the house, I poked and prodded the buttons on the keyboard and discovered that claws work better than paw pads for that.  No opposable thumbs needed at all! Next, I focused on manoeuvring the clicker (I refuse to call it a mouse, as it bears no discernible resemblance to that tasty tidbit of the rodent species) and found that the front edge of one paw pad was best for sliding this way and that across the clicker surface.  Two paws together serve to shift the clicker itself in a different direction.  Most importantly, I figured out how to hide my documents so Miranda won’t see them.

And there you have it.  Sooner than I would have thought possible, I was tickety-ticking and scrape-scraping my way into the virtual world.  And now – piece de resistance – I have a blog!  I would love to share thoughts with all of you out there, whoever and wherever you may be.  There is a comment section somewhere on the page, if you would like to communicate too.  Until then…”Meow!”

~~~~~~~~~~

Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of. ~ Sir Walter Scott

____________________________________________________________________________________

Photo credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/asmuch/243854954/

Welcome to my blog and yes, I am a cat

My name is Cato.  I’m most gratified that you are having a look at my blog. Some folk wonder:

  •  Why would a cat write a blog?
  •  Why would other cats and perhaps even other species, including people,  read a cat’s blog?
  •  How does a creature without opposable thumbs use a computer?

I hope to answer these and other questions for those who are interested in the musings of a cat who likes to think.  I have named my blog “Thinking Things Through” because I feel that critical thinking is an important component of life in any culture or nation, regardless of creed or political stripe. There is far too little quality thinking going on these days and I aim to do my own small part to stir up the pondering spirit amongst humans and creatures alike.

Does that sound arrogant? I hope not. Cats are often seen as being remote and a tad supercilious, but that is rarely the whole truth about any feline, whether born in the back alley or the high society estate.  In an effort to help readers understand the feline species just a little better, I will welcome guest bloggers on occasion – cats from many and varying backgrounds and life experiences.

Please see my first blog post (Paws For Thought) for answers to the above three questions. My fondest wish is that you will find the writings herein enjoyable and stimulating.

*********

Those who know how to think need no teachers ~ Mahatma Gandhi

____________________________________________________________________________________

Photo credit: Creative Commons 44076 91350

I Am A Cat Who Ponders

About Me (in case you were wondering)

I was born in a barn, on a farm in Devon, England. My mother nurtured me well and then I was adopted by a human pair – husband and wife – who named me Cato after a wise man who lived long ago and far away. My humans have loved me and continued to provide for my needs, even though they have caused me some anxiety by moving me from familiar territory to a land far away.

A few years after I joined their household, my humans (hereafter known as “providers” because that is what they do – provide for all my needs) moved to Canada and brought me along with them, of course. We live in a city now, near the western sea and mountains. It has taken awhile, but I have adjusted. Creatures and humans speak with odd inflections in this city, but otherwise share most of the quirks and qualities of those in my former homeland. I hope to capture some of this in my blog.

 

The Adventure Begins…

As you may have gathered, I lead a rather cushy life compared to many felines. That hasn’t stopped me from encountering other cats, dogs and humans whose circumstances differ greatly from my own. Our neighbourhood, close to the centre of a large city, is home to a wide variety of creatures from many different parts of the world. My wanderings through back yards, streets and alleyways has given me much to think about these last few years.

My providers find this to be the case too. Little do they know that their beloved cat listens with ears perked up whenever they speak about the things of life. They are a book-reading, computer-savvy pair who seem to enjoy long discussions with other humans. They even speak to me, albeit in syrupy tones and accompanied by much stroking and kissing. The singing is a bit much and mostly consists of songs with lyrics too silly to mention here.  I put up with it because they clean up my hairballs without complaining – well, not too much – and feed me good quality food.

Best of all, they leave me alone in the house for hours at a time. They think I spend all my time sleeping, but I have a much greater purpose in mind than dreaming about bird hunting. You see, many of the afore-mentioned discussions between humans take place on the computer, that most wondrous of machines. I sit for hours and watch how they use the finger boards (I believe they call them keyboards, though what those little plastic buttons have to do with keys I do not know). I notice what happens on the monitor and how the little contraption they call a “mouse” hunts for and catches special words and codes that open up colourful, intriguing worlds. Surely no one would expect a thinking cat to resist such a challenge.

May I share some of my ponderings with you? Now that I have learned how to communicate on this device, it would be most gratifying to know that others out there in the wired world are listening to me and perhaps responding with insights of their own. Mostly listening to me, though.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Photo credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/beginasyouare/2232009748/