I miss having a cat around. The whole dog person versus cat person argument is misguided if you ask me because I like them both. What a dog brings to a home is totally different than what a cat brings, but the same can be said for the difference between a male child and a female child. What a man adds to a home is very different from what a woman adds to a home. I like the sense of pack, of family and of unconditional love a dog carries with him like the smile on his face. I like the independence of a cat, and their need to be warm. I like the cat’s ability to surprise, and the fact mice will move to another area code when a good mouser takes a home. Dogs are good at laying down the law to human vermin. They fear nothing when the pack is in danger, regardless as to how small the dog might be. Cats teach us to not consider our place as in the family as absolute for they can be demanding in ways a canine would not dream. Dogs accept punishment and scoldings as personal failings. Cats seek revenge for it.
Sam, my kind and loving Greyhound mix cannot be persuaded cats are not prey animals. Sam is damaged beyond my reckoning or my succor. The three months of Sam’s life before Bert found him in the woods has marked his psyche so terribly I cannot bring myself to be harsh enough to convince Sam he’s making a terrible mistake by trying to kill cats. He truly doesn’t understand why something small and furry isn’t on the list of animals he’s allowed to hunt. Sam is good at what he does and he possesses a drive born through deprivation and cruelty. Sam will not make peace with small mammals in this lifetime, but perhaps it is enough he has come to love humans again, and to trust as well as he can.
Everyone I know who I talk to about Sam will listen carefully and attentively, and after I’m done they smile and say, “Mike, you cannot have a cat around Sam.” I know it’s true, and I know they are right, but I miss cats.
I miss the sound of a deep purr. There is something incredibly soothing inherent in a deep purr. Oh the surface purrs are fine but to have an incredibly happy cat lying on your chest making that purring noise coming from the very pit of the cat is narcotic. The rising and falling of that sound is audio contentment incarnate. All of life’s worries and woes can be purred away, you know. It not for free, this sound, but can be bought for the price of a good chin rubbing, use both hands please on either side of the face until the cat leans into it so hard she might fall if you moved your away hands suddenly. You know you’ve done a good job when the drool flows. Cats produce deep purrs to tell us when we’re doing the job people are supposed to be doing when they aren’t feeding cats.
I miss the surprise of cats. I reached for a blanket one night and discovered Abbi Gale The Cat From Hell had slipped into the closet and somehow managed the very top shelf and managed to nest on the blanket. Abbi was the cat I cohabitated with for years before she left me to be a wild cat. Another difference between dogs and cats is people generally will accept a greater level of violence from a cat than they will a dog. We expect better behavior from dogs and cats have taught us we will bleed if we cross certain lines. A dog might growl and not be serious but a cat is more likely to get into a fistfight with you and never announce there is a problem, unless you can read cat body language. Abbi taught me well.
Abbi was beautiful. Not just pretty, not just a nice looking cat, but Abbi was incredible. She was a pewter colored cat with long hair and a white chest. The white under her chin had a thin line that ran down to her chest, as if she had spilled milk while drinking it out of a mug. Oh, everyone thought Abbi was so beautiful. Abbi didn’t give a damn. She did not like strangers touching her, and you were a stranger for very long time.
“Don’t touch the cat. The cat will claw you, and she will draw blood.”
Is that hard to understand? Is there something about those instruction mystic, or deceptive? People would come over and Abbi would sit on the coffee table, just as she always did, or perch on the back of the sofa. She didn’t feel obligated to move so people would leave her alone. That was her spot, dammit, and why should she move to be left alone? Abbi could get that without some change in her geography.
“Oh! What a beautiful little cat!” someone would say as they walked in and saw Abbi sitting there.
“Don’t touch the cat. The cat will claw you, and she will draw blood.” I would say. I knew better than to swat at Abbi to get her to move. I knew if I relocated her because someone was over she’d rake me for it. All she wanted was to be left alone.
“I’m a cat person” the cat person would say and they would coo and baby talk at Abbi and Abbi would just sit there. “I know how to talk to cats, aren’t you precious, come here and let me… IIIIIEEEEEEEE!”
Abbi wasn’t into warning shots. Abbi went from sitting to war in the time it took for her to swipe at a hand. The first three months we lived together people thought I put up barbed wire fence in my spare time. Abbi and I took quite some time to get used to one another.
But you know what? I miss cats. I still miss Abbi.