Today is Caturday! BUT having cats at home makes every day a Caturday! ‘Really?’ you ask, raised eyebrows in disbelief. Nonetheless, If you are smiling, you have at least a cat in your life.
I have three, all rescued from the street when they were kittens. Chispa,
was around two and half months when we found her but so skinny and ill that she looked like a one month old. The other two are siblings who pursued Chispa around the house non-stop while she would look at them a bit afraid, not knowing what those little living beings were -my theory is, she does not realize she is a cat (*).
They are grown up now -Chispa is 9 years old and the siblings are 6. The dynamic of their relationship has evolved through the years as well as their relationship with us.
(This might get a bit long, so feel free to scroll down to ‘Cats are a quirky species‘ to read the main part if you get bored!)
Chispa was probably alone for a long time before we found her and therefore not socialised, we do not know what happened to her mother but she was starving and dehydrated. She came out from under an abandoned car in a burning hot summer day and lay down on my foot. Since then, she follows me around all the time and obeys me -9 out of 10 times -as a dog would do: if I signal a seat and tell her to ‘jump here’, she would jump there; if she is fidgety because she cannot find the right place to sleep or is a bit hungry but it is not the time to eat yet, I would sit her on my legs and she would relax -and fall asleep- instantly. We bicker too: when she is bored and the other cats do not want to play with her, she comes to me and does something that I dislike with a passion: scratch the books!! I would pretend that I go towards her to scold her and so she runs from me, raising her back up while standing on her two back paws.
But there are two amazing things about Chispa:
- If I throw her a small paper ball, she knows that to keep playing she has to bring it back to the person she is playing with. Many times she brings the ball out of the blue and makes eye contact until the human understands ‘I want to play with you’.
- She has learnt a lot from the younger siblings. When we brought her home, she slept all curled up, tense. She would not know how to communicate she was hungry. Now, she sleeps in any way -completely stretched out, belly up, sideways, like a dog with the head advanced… and is not afraid to enter the kitchen to ask for food -she even sticks around to steal her favorites to play with: a small piece of chard or a peel of potato/cucumber/carrot.
The other two are very special as well -aside from being very talkative and cream fans! The female has many MANY routines:
she likes to chase lights so during daylight, whenever I use the phone, the tablet or a book with a glossy cover, she starts running around like crazy and, with her pupils totally dilated, she would look at me like saying ‘Where is the shadow?! WHERE IS THE SHADOW???’ At night, she patiently awaits until I go to bed and insists that I use my phone to reflect the light in the bedroom so she can run around like a mad cat (if I do not indulge in her game she looks at me so sadly that I feel guilty). She also enjoys asking for food many times to see if she can taste many different things. One of the funniest things she does is, she won’t be happy during nap time unless she can sleep right next to my father. Every time he does not take a nap, she wanders around the house meowing in despair until she realizes she better get going because her human father will not keep her company.
The brother is just hilarious. As his sister, he talks a lot. If you look at him and say something, he will meow back and then he will run towards you so you two can be friends (if you have a sandwich or some other food on you, beware, he might steal it!). Whenever you call him, he will come. And every time you say his name, he will answer. He loves the kitchen and, above all, all the tasty things that come out of it. If only he could try everything! He needs to sleep against something -a wall, a cushion, the leg of a chair…- or someone -an arm, a leg…-. He is the most affectionate cat I have ever seen and thinks nothing can harm him -which is a nightmare when cooking for instance.
I am digressing a lot, I cannot help it. I love cats, not only the ones sharing my home. Maybe cats are very unknown and for that reason, victims of many prejudices?
We have seen many times the old ‘cat people vs. dog people‘. I have never have a dog but family members have so I have shared a fair amount of hours with them and love them as well. In my experience, people tend to think it is more difficult to make friends with a cat than with a dog. One could think that cats are more aloof, not so frank or natural. But they are. Sure, it takes a bit of time, but as with everything in life.
Cats are a quirky species: unpredictable but with routines. A bit wild and very independent but big softies and looking for a caress here and there. In order to live in harmony with a cat, patience and understanding that they are their own ‘person’ are a must. Cats are grateful, loving and noble, determined and tenacious, cunning but courteous, feisty but agreeable, independent but very caring, funny and clever, very patient but very impatient, able to high levels of concentration, brave but pragmatic, adaptable and quick-learners, sensitive and empathic… They would sleep on anything you are reading, studying…, they would sit in front of the TV if there is something good going on -which is rarely-, they would wake you up if breakfast time has come, they would wait for you to open the front door for them or try to open it with their telekinetic powers, they would stare at you eating that slice of cake until you give them a crumb, they would drink water from every tap, glass or bottle, they would try to catch the vinyl that is playing on the gramophone…
For all this and for many things I have probably failed to remember, I love cats. Above all, I find very important to teach children how to share their lives with animals, to teach them we have to protect and respect them, not cage or kill them, and that they are as sensitive as any human if treated properly -if not more, depending on which human we are talking about- so our children would grow to be true human beings who care about someone else besides themselves.
If you have make it this far, what are your thoughts? Like cats better than dogs or the other way around? Like both? Have another animal at home? Any anecdotes to share?
(*) I believe she does not realize she is a cat because I was her maternal referent as a kitten and has been following me around since then. I even taught her how to climb stairs so she could move around freely. She would lay in her basket, in my room, at night and look attentively at me, until I waved my hand at her and said ‘Good night Chispa’. Then, she would curl up and get asleep.