Hawking Up Hairballs

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I love cats. I always have. I don't really know how that came to be. Even as a very small boy, I was fascinated by them. Dogs have never held the same appeal. It's not that I dislike them. I can remember an incident from when I was three years old, where I was playing with a neighbor's black cocker spaniel. That was an awfully long time ago, and the memory may not be all that accurate, but it does indicate that I've never had an innate aversion to dogs, but there's something about them that irks me. I don't like the way they're so damned eager to please.

Some people seem to think that cats are sneaky and unlikeable, but I've alway found them to be mysterious and they seem to have a spiritual dimension, some more than others. I have no trouble whatsoever understanding why the ancient Egyptians thought that cats were household gods. Not that this is much different from our modern-day attitudes toward our pets. Just because we don't think of them as gods per se, that doesn't mean that we don't cherish them in exactly the same way as the Egyptians cherished their cats. Yeah, I know that the Egyptians mummified their cats for burial, which says something, but we have our pet cemeteries here in the twenty-first century. Hell, there are even folks who have taxidermists stuff their dead cats and dogs.

It's amazing how attached we can become to our animals. This past March, I lost two cats that I'd had for a long time. One was fifteen years old, the other seventeen. They died within a few weeks of each other. Much to my surprise, that really hit me hard. It was like losing a couple of good friends, which was what they had indeed become. I didn't wait long to get another cat though. I went to the Humane Society shelter and got one there, a year-old, black male. I was walking along this wall of cages, and the little booger reached his paw out to me. I asked the attendant if I could hold him, and she fetched him from the cage. He snuggled up close to me in my arms, then reached his head up and rubbed it against my cheek. What could I do? He had chosen me, so I took him home. His name is Maurice, and he's a real sweetheart.

There's a tradition that associates cats with the diabolical. Black cats were once thought to be the familiars of witches, and many people still consider them unlucky. It is probably for this reason that animal shelters find it harder to find homes for black cats. And what if that old superstition is true? Then, so be it and I guess I am, in the not so immortal words of that character who used to be on Saturday Night Live many years ago, as doomed as doomed can be. And wouldn't you know it. Just as I typed those words, Maurice jumped up on the table, demanding my attention. It's as good a reason as any to end a post.


Anonymous barbara in decatur said...

My house critters (2 cats, 1 dog) do me the immense service of obliging me to stop thinking about my damn self for a while.

Very sorry to hear about your former kitties, but congratulations on Maurice.

12:58 PM  

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