What do you see when you look at a cat?
Do you see a companion who warms both lap and heart on days when everything else seems cold? A comrade of shared interests in birdwatching, sunbathing, and long naps on a favorite couch? A partner in mischief during sleepless nights? A confidante who keeps safe every clandestine deed, deliberation, and desire you divulge in quiet confession? A therapist who listens intently and challenges you to live an honest life with joyful abandon?
Or do you see a furry little human, subject to all of the rules of etiquette and behavior to which other humans are bound? A child in need of education in the social graces of human society? A living ornament with which to decorate your home? An exterminator to rid house and yard of vermin? A reflection of your humane ethic and sense of community responsibility? A source of amusement for yourself, your family, or friends? A babysitter to keep the kids occupied? A passport into a group of like-minded feline aficionados? A possession to be enjoyed until the “new” wears off?
The felines with whom I have shared my life have filled many of these roles. Often, in so doing, great injustices have been done to the perception of the species and the value of the individual. Contrary to convenient belief, cats are not the roles to which we assign them. Cats are, in fact, cats.
It has taken me nearly six decades to appreciate cats to the depth that I no longer require or expect them to adhere to human standards of behavior that they can not possibly understand. If a cat sprays a favorite armchair, drools all over a new outfit, or shreds wallpaper off of a bedroom wall, I would acknowledge all of these actions as perfectly acceptable forms of communication in a feline society. If I do not provide the proper resolutions or outlets for these behaviors in my home, that would be my human failing. It would not be the cat failing their human.
I love everything that makes a cat, a cat. And if my cats should accidentally stumble into other more “human” roles, I won’t impose my human expectations on them. Who am I to interfere with the perfection that is CAT?
So, what do YOU see when you look at a cat? Leave a comment and let me know!