Photo Essay: Cool for Cats

Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011 in Features

Photo Essay: Cool for Cats

by Steve Cartwright

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Cats are healing creatures. There may be other antidotes to the world’s ills, but the good doctor has a point. Cats are a comfort.

A feline companion is not subservient, but can be very loving and caring. I’m thinking of how, when our kids were small, Gingersnap would watch over them if they were sick, perhaps cuddling alongside. When son Joel was an infant, she would climb into the bassinet with him. Would she smother him? Of course not. She nurtured him, and we think he purred before he learned words.

Cats remind us of what the good life is about. Eating well, exercising — but not to excess — playing, sleeping, and cat-napping. Naps! Cats are the masters of naps. Put your fuzzy head down, put your paw over your head and snooze. Wake up, see if anything interesting is happening … birds at the feeder perhaps. But if it’s dull, well, take another nap.

Cats are intuitive, playful, creative and so very clever. I am very biased. I think we can learn a lot from cats. I am impressed that a cat can turn from a wild predator to a tame lap-sitter in 10 seconds. Or vice versa.

Cats can be obnoxiously demanding, even putting their claws into you. But I suppose we humans can be that way too. Cats can be moody, like us, and they can be sweet and irresistibly cute.

When my brother’s cat, Luna, plays the piano, it seems quite intentional. Her style is very modern, dissonant. When Tops’l rolls over on her back, legs akimbo, and looks at me, she is saying come on, let’s play!

Cats reveal craftiness, humor and a distinct ability to wrap you around their paw, so to speak. When our cat Tops’l wants to eat, you can bet she makes her wishes known. And is served. When she approves she purrs. When she disapproves I swear she glares at you.

Cats can feed themselves, and they certainly are meticulous in cleaning and grooming themselves. But why work hard when you can simply find a lesser being, a human being, to do the work for you?

Cats don’t really have nine lives, and they don’t really expect you to worship them. But it’s not hard to see why these myths might arise. Cats are agile, graceful, and even if they lose their footing and fall, they land in a dignified manner. My mother said when she was a girl the family cat fell off a terrace six floors above a flagstone-paved yard. The cat walked away. Another day.

A last word. It’s not kindly but it amused me as a lover of cats. Those who hate cats, or put “I don’t brake for cats” stickers on their bumpers, will come back, after their death, as mice.

Steve Cartwright has lived with cats for most of his life. His current feline companion is Tops’l, a feisty 11-year-old from Tenants Harbor. His previous cat, Gingersnap, lived to the age of 19, and was the daughter of the cat Steve picked up at a pound: Marmalade. Cats rule!

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