You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams

Location: Kentucky, United States

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance; everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.
--Dereke Bruce

Jasmine, our house cat, turned five-years-old this month. We have had her since she was weaned from her litter. Shortly after bringing her into the house, we found her playing with a small rubber snake that belonged to one of the boys. She would carry it around and play with it. One day she brought it into the living room and dropped it at Jason’s feet. He picked it up and threw it into the kitchen and she sprinted after it. A few seconds later, she is back and drops the snake at Jason’s feet again. We had a cat that would play fetch! The funny thing is that we never tried to train her. She came up with the idea herself.

We still have that rubber snake, but Jasmine has enlarged her toy-box to include garbage ties, strips of cardboard, straws, and any flower she can get her teeth on (which sometimes means quite a mess when she knocks the vase over getting the stem out).

Just a few months ago, we found her taking a small rubber ball, climbing into a chair in the kitchen and dropping the ball under the table. It caroms around the chair legs a second or two before she pounces, catches it, climbs up and does it again.

"Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you." -Mary Bly

If you are a dog person and have made it this far, I congratulate you on your acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Before I get to my real point, let me say that I understand people are evenly divided along different foundational lines: Red State/Blue State, Republican/Democrat, Pro-Life/pro-abortion, UK basketball/U of L basketball, (that is an inside KY thing). The division between Dog-people and Cat-people is a gulf of irreconcilable difference that has more to do with the way we see the world, than what type of pet we enjoy.

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
--Dave Barry

Dog-people enjoy the faithful devotion of their friend, the way a dog can look at you with absolute trust and devotion, as if you are the greatest, most wonderful person they have ever seen. All this after you forgot your keys and walked back in to the house after being gone for only five minutes.

It is a matter to gain the affection of a cat. He is a philosophical animal; tenacious of his own habits, fond of order and neatness, and disinclined to extravagant sentiment. He will be your friend, if he finds you worthy of friendship, but not your slave.
--Theophile Gautier

Cat-people admire the aloof independence of their companion. They are enigmatic animals rarely showing you more than what they want you to see. Affection from a cat is subtle, and hard earned, which makes it all the more valuable. They give a sense of feral unpredictability, a tinge of wildness. We have domesticated dogs in all sizes, but we are food to the majority of cat species. That is why William Blake’s poem universally speaks both to our wonder and to our fear of what walks in the darkness of the wild.

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

We need the tiger in the jungle. We need to be reminded of our place in this world, and nothing does that like the royal fierceness of the large cats.

Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.
--Kyoya, 9 Advice from Kids

The house cat reminds us of our place in the natural world by its indifference to our concerns. This is what aggravates Dog-people the most. The cat leads you to humility and sometimes leaves you there. It is not that they are too stupid to understand, but like tossing a pebble into the ocean, we leave no mark.

"If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man, but deteriorate the cat." -Mark Twain

Jasmine has played fetch with us for over four-years and shows no sign of slowing. She is a very active, very vocal cat who sometimes to be trying to converse with us. One aggravating thing that she has always done when we play fetch is to never bring the ball back all the way, but will stop just out of reach and lie down and look up at us, waiting for us to throw the ball again. Each time she brings it back, she steps a little farther away.

It occurred to me that maybe I had the point of this game all wrong. Maybe fetch is not the game we are playing, at least not in the sense of throwing the ball and bringing it back. Maybe the fetch we are playing is drop the ball, and make the human get out of the chair and get it. Maybe we have not been playing, but have been played all this time by someone much wiser than ourselves.

A human may go for a stroll with a cat; he has to walk a dog. The cat leads the way, running ahead, tail high, making sure you understand the arrangement. If you should happen to get ahead, the cat will never allow you to think it is following you. It will stop and clean some hard-to-reach spot, or investigate a suspicious movement in the grass; you will find yourself waiting, fidgeting like the lackey you are. But this is not annoying to cat lovers, who understand and appreciate a good joke, even when it is on them.
--Robert Stearns


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