In others’ words – the cat

By William Thomas

From dog to horse, bat to rat, no pets are more quotable than the domestic cat.

For a pet that does not speak or bark, the body of written work attributed to the domesticated feline is ponderous. Everybody, it seems, has an impassioned opinion of our favourite whiskered couch dweller.

Some doubt pets are tamed at all. “The phrase ‘domesticated cat’ is an oxymoron,” so said American political commentator George Will.

Or even if they’re house-broken. “Most cats have trained their owners. When the cat meows before the refrigerator, the owner obediently opens the door and feeds the cat. When it meows at the back door, the owner is trained to let the cat out,” states veterinarian Leon Whitney. Who’s training who?

It’s not a dog-like, buddy-buddy relationship. “To a cat, human beings are an inferior servile race, always to be kept in their places, with occasional rewards if they perform well. To love a cat is uphill work, and therefore, very rewarding,” said writer Haskel Frankel.

And when it comes to human beings, all dogs resemble men, while felines, most certainly lean to the feminine side. American Actress Carol Lawrence would agree: “They’re the most graceful, sinuous, sexy, truly sensuous creatures in the world.”

But “Living with a cat is like being married to a career woman, who can take domesticity or let it alone, so you’d better be nice to her.” – Author Margaret Cooper Gay

Fear not, says writer Robert Heinlein: “Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

John Dingman would agree: “Cats are absolute individuals, with their own ideas about everything including the people they own.”

Arrogance becomes them. “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this. – Author Terry Pratchett

Not to be fooled, says Betty White: “When I speak to her, she can look the other way in an elaborate show of inattention, but those ears are turning like radar scopes, taking in everything.”

A bit harsh but: “Cats refuse to take the blame for anything, including their own sins.” – Elizabeth Peters

Quirky are cats, independent and more clever than smart. “The smart cat doesn’t let on that he is.” – H.G. Frommer

Cats can make you feel inferior. English writer Eleanor Farjeon: “It always gives me a shiver when I see a cat seeing what I can’t see.”

And taking a serious swipe at dogs: “A cat has never been known to bite the garbageman. It does not come into the living room knocking over lamps and tables,” said U.S. writer H. Monger Burdock.

“Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.”  – Joseph Wood Krutch. And ask, and ask and ask.

Anglo-French historian Hillair Belloc said: “There is not a man living who knows better than I that the four charms of a cat lie in its closed eyes, its long and lovely hair, its silence, and even its affected love.”

Man’s greatest and wittiest critic loved and observed cats, coming to a conclusion that many of us cynics share: “If man could be crossed with a cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.”  – Mark Twain

Or maybe U.S. radio personality Bruce Schimmel said it best: “The little furry buggers are just deep, deep wells you throw all your emotions into.”

I myself spent 24 years in a house where the only other occupant was a cat – first Malcolm, then Weggie. Both of them drove me crazy. Both made me a better person.

From my own book Malcolm and Me – Life In the Litter Box: “When it came to sensitivity and companionship, Malcolm knew when I was down. Malcolm knew when I was feeling blue and needed a little hug. He didn’t give a s*** of course, but he knew!”

For comments, go to www.williamthomas.ca