Friday, November 9, 2012

Cats Rule

Thank goodness the election is over. Alas, one of my favorite candidates did not win his senate seat despite conducting a clean campaign and looking exceedingly handsome in each photo.

That would be Hank, a cat in Virginia who hoped to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. Hank won 6,000 write-in votes and supporters contributed $16,000 to animal rescue groups on his behalf. It's rare to see a candidate with that much class who works tirelessly for the benefit of the community. Gotta give Hank credit.

I have always had immense respect for cats. Dogs are nice in their place. Birds brighten their environment, singing and even talking clearly. There are many other species which make good household pets: hamsters, gerbils, fish and ferrets to name only a few. However, it's hard to top cats as the all-round kings of Petdom.

Just like identifying what constitutes a truly attractive man, the secret to the appeal of cats is their eyes. When observing a cat, most people immediately attempt eye contact. Looking in our eyes is a cat's way of scoping out visitors and confirming they are non-threatening. Many cat behavior experts advise against locking into a staring contest with cats, who may interpret this as a sign of aggression and will often attack if they sense a challenger.

There is "someone home" behind a cat's eyes. The cat demonstrates focus as he analyzes what is going on around him. He pays attention to activities, odors, moving objects, even light and shadow. His eyes may open widely as he deciphers the signs, looking for threats and escape routes if needed. Sadly, these same skills are not evident in many human beings.

Some people simply do not like cats. "They're sneaky." "They bring in mice/birds and that scares me." "They have too much attitude." Admittedly cats are masters of their own domain and people who share space with a cat are keenly aware that they must pay attention to the cat's requests.

Hank, the Virginia candidate, could not express himself to his audience. Many other cats do speak to us -- everyday and often -- but many people fail to read the signals. Perhaps one of the greatest failures of cat ownership is neglecting to heed the signs. It is up to the cat's handler to pay attention, read the signs and obey.

My two cats Max and Tesla keep me on my toes. They co-exist despite being completely different and seriously independent. Max is five years old, 15 pounds and a gentle giant. He looks threatening but the ring of the doorbell or a stray clap of thunder will send him under the nearest bed. Tesla is nearly a year old, persuasion personified. She can get anyone to pick her up and make over her. Tesla knows she is irresistible and wants everyone to remember that fact.

But I am not the only feline fan around. Countless celebrities through time have indicated their partiality for cats. There is something about cats which unites us and which folks more famous than me have recorded. Here are some samples:

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

"If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much." -- Mark Twain

"I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time." -- Neil Gaiman

"The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats…" -- Albert Schweitzer

"What greater gift than the love of a cat." -- Charles Dickens

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty; human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not." -- Ernest Hemingway

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece." -- Leonardo da Vinci

If you are also a fan of the feline, take pride in your position. If you are among those who never found the appeal of cats, perhaps you should rethink your position. After all, there are many great minds who have found something to love in a fur ball who can't wait to climb into your lap.

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