They Could Not Please Me More

I was reading in bed with Ollie in my lap. Ollie is a tail-thumper anyway, but because he and Harvey had argued, his thumping turned to thrashing. I grabbed his tail and distractedly started slapping him in the face with it. When he threatened to bite me, I apologized. Prior to my interaction with Ollie, I had been pondering cat behavior for much of the day. Here are some conclusions:

Covid isolation has reinforced my observation that the more love I give to cats, the happier they are and the more love they give back. While it is true that cats are independent, it would be tragically wrong to imagine that they don't need the love of the people upon whom their lives depend.

Obedience. Cat-haters insist that cats are too stupid to learn commands, yet my cats will seldom jump onto countertops if I ask them not to, assuming that I ask it while standing three feet away and pointing a squirt bottle. They also obey me when my wishes are consistent with their wishes. For example, if I call Ollie when I'm sitting in bed reading at 10:00 p.m., I can hear him galloping from two rooms away because he anticipates sitting in my lap, but if I call him at 10:00 a.m., he won't come because he doesn't know what I want. 

How cats regard humans. Some people say that cats consider us equals while others argue that they regard us as inferiors. When I ask cats about this, they go to sleep. I have no idea what this means.

Why do cats give us dead things? Possibilities: (1) They hate us; (2) They have a twisted sense of humor; (3) Corpses are to cats what chocolates are to us; (4) They regard us as failed hunters and are trying to inspire us. Finis. Because option four is the only option that accords with cat behavior, researchers favor it, although it would suggest that our cats view us as morons. Being indoor-only, my cats have nothing to present me with aside from beetles and spiders, and they usually eat them, proving that they don't care if I starve.

Burying poop. Until several months ago, Scully buried her poop. She now climbs onto the lid of the box and scratches as if she is burying her poop. The next cat into the box sees the poops, appears disgusted, and buries it. The sheen on Scully's jet black fur, her pristinely groomed white legs and chest, her gorgeous white whiskers, and the perfect symmetry of her markings put me in mind of human females who look like goddesses but have the IQ of rocks. Then again, maybe Scully's problem is emotional. 

Mental illness. As our other cats admit, Ollie has "issues." When he's stressed, he vomits and his hair falls out. Everyday for the four and a half years since he moved in, he has nursed on Brewsky. While the rest of the family relaxes together in bed at night, Ollie stalks the darkened house yowling loudly. When we hear him, we stop what we're doing and stare down the dark hallway in fear that this will be the night that he permanently loses his mind. If Ollie were human, I might conclude that he's afflicted with existential angst, but because he's a cat, I don't know what his problem is, and the other cats don't either.

Intelligence. Due to their resourcefulness in achieving private goals, I have concluded that my cats are reasonably intelligent. Yet, the human tendency to judge our pets according to what we value can result in a skewed assessment. For example, many people regard cats as intellectually inferior to dogs simply because dogs are better at learning things that we teach them. These people are oblivious to the fact that cats excel at teaching us things that interest them. For example, when I throw his ball, Sage will run to it and stare at me. After awhile, I understand that he wants me to go to the ball, pick it up, and throw it again, which I do, at which time he does what he did the first time. When I am able to perform the trick flawlessly, Sage takes a nap. The next day, he has me practice some more.

"When I play with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me rather than I with her?" Montaigne

Emotions. Another example of people judging cats by human standards is the common conclusion that cats are unemotional based upon their relatively unchanging facial expressions. However, researchers have determined that, while cats form expressions, they lack the musculature to form a great many of them. Another mistaken anthropocentric judgment is that cats' habit of capturing and releasing the same prey proves that they are sadists (they actually do it to instruct their young and to hone their hunting skills). Still another mistake occurs when people interpret as disgust the strange expression that some cats make after washing their butts, sniffing urine, or paying attention to the fragrance of a female in heat (they are instead wafting odors past something that scientists call a vomeronasal organ). How, then, given the ease with which we make mistakes, might a person know what a cat is thinking and feeling? Through patience, humility, voluminous reading, and hundreds of hours spent observing body language, vocalizations, and eye movements. 

When to observe cats. All day everyday is best, but I especially enjoy doing it when they're stretching, playing together, sleeping in acrobatic postures, bathing one another, rolling in catnip, purring in my lap, chittering at birds, cuddling with one another, chasing their laser light, and requesting a cuddle. A less pleasant—but very important—time to observe a cat is during those periods when he or she is vomiting frequently (as one wit put it, Dogs bark. Cats vomit). Because their vomiting often results from stress, it is my responsibility to make their home peaceful.

Us comforting cats. Rapidly-moving men with loud voices cause my cats to make like little Houdinis and disappear. If one—or more—of them remains disappeared hours after the person has left, I drag them from their hiding places and attempt to comfort them. If I succeed, they remain in the open. If I fail, they go back into hiding. Another time that I try to comfort cats is when I take them to the vet. I never feel closer to my cats than when they push their heads into my abdomen at the vet's. Clearly, my ability to comfort a stressed-out cat is limited, but then I have the same problem with dogs and humans.

Cats comforting us. Peggy spent part of yesterday in bed with a stomach ache. When I went to check on her, all five cats were lined up against her sides. Were those cats acting as compassionate beings who were doing their utmost to comfort a loved one, or were they selfish jerks who found Peggy's bed appealing and the heat from her body relaxing? People who wouldn't dream of interpreting every act of every human as motivated by selfishness have no better reason for making that claim about cats, but they make it anyway. 

There was a famous 1995 incident in which a homeless calico—whom the firemen later named Scarlett—was severely burned when she repeatedly dodged rescuers in order to save her kittens from a burning warehouse in Brooklyn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlett_(cat)). While many people praised Scarlett's courage, others dismissed her behavior as the product of mindless instinct. What then of human mothers who risk their lives for their children, such as the woman who recently tackled a man whom she caught looking through her daughter's bedroom window? While I'm sure that instinct plays a large role in such behavior, I am troubled by the fact that bigotry is so clearly evident when it comes to judging cats.

How can so timid a species be capable of love, and how can I love it? Despite being superb athletes, cats' small size and thin bones make them highly susceptible to injury, and so it is that facing avoidable threats is not within their value system (the exception being mother cats who must defend their kittens). This causes some humans to hold cats in contempt. To bring this part of the discussion closer to home...

Three-year-old Sage is my smallest and most timid cat. If I bend over to pet him while he's sitting on the floor, his big eyes get even bigger; he meows fearfully; and he runs away. Sometimes, he doesn't stop until he's under a chair. Other times, he only runs a few feet before rolling onto his back so I can pet him. I interpret his behavior as a struggle between trust and fear. While I know I'm making progress with Sage, I also know that I can never allow myself a moment's un-mindfulnesssuch as when I slapped Ollie in the face with his tail. 

Each morning, Sage asks Peggy to pick him up so he can sit on her shoulder, something he has never done with me. Sage also likes to sit in Peggy's lap, which is also something that he has never done with me. Researchers have found that it's simply easier for women to win the trust of cats, dogs, and even wolves. During the many decades that I walked dogs, I often met women whose adopted shelter dogs would either growl at me or hide behind the woman's legs. In almost every instance, these women had concluded that their shelter dog had been abused by a man. When I asked how they knew this, they would usually point to the way their dogs behaved around men.  

Why do I believe that intimacy with my cats continues to grow with every passing year? I believe it because of how pleased they are when I join them for a cuddle, and because of the liberties they allow me to take with them. I can rough their fur, kiss their noses, squeeze them firmly, sweep them off the floor, flip them onto their backs, and rub their bellies, and I can even do these things with Sage most of the time. If you adopt an emotionally healthy dog, that dog will quickly reach a plateau of intimacy. By contrast, I still see signs of growing intimacy in all of my cats except for ten year old Brewsky, whose boldness approaches that of a dog. But how can I ever really know who my cats are within their deepest selves? I cannot. I can allow myself to interpret their behavior as love.

Isn't it unnatural to force a cat to live indoors? Here's what a natural lifestyle would entail: breeding freely; fighting competitors; killing their own food; suffering from climatic extremes, having their blood sucked by fleas, ticks, and mosquitos; being deprived of medical care; and starving when they become too old, sick, or wounded to hunt. Here's what a natural lifestyle would not entail: cuddling with humans, sleeping on soft pillows, eating Meow Mix, killing for fun, and staying indoors in inclement weather. No loving person would allow his or her cat to live naturally, and I resent being referred to as my cats' jailer. The person in my life who has given me the most grief about this has had two cats since I met him. One left home one morning after breakfast and was never seen again. The other came home with a broken leg, and he had her euthanized. Such is often the fate of cats who are allowed to come and go.

But is it possible for indoor cats to be happy? My cats are well-loved; well-fed; well-protected; never alone; own a bucketful of toys, a commodious window shelf, multiple cat trees and lots of scratching posts; and show no interest in going outdoors. Their lives are as predictable as I can make them, and cats adore predictability. Despite being less adaptable than cats that face outdoor challenges, they're healthier and can expect to live twice as long. They're also peaceful and content, properties that are surely more important than happiness.

But are they happy? Perhaps, the question can be more easily approached by asking whether they are satisfied, the reason being that happiness is a fluctuating mood boundaried by extremes. It is also a mood that I feel unqualified to judge. Yet, I have observed my cats closely their whole lives long, and I strongly believe that they're  satisfied. Just as the man I mentioned pitied my cats for staying indoors, I pity his cats because he somehow imagines that it's kindly to allow them to kill countless birds and mammals and to have their young lives end violently. The only good that comes from letting cats go outdoors is that it allows their humans to evade the responsibility of providing for their physical and emotional welfare indoors. 

Should cats be worshiped? If, as Keats wrote, beauty is truth and truth beauty, then the spirit that embodies catdom deserves worship. People generally believe that the ancient Egyptians worshiped cats, but what they actually worshiped was the spirit embodied by cats, a spirit that found its ultimate expression in Bastet, a goddess who named cats her earthly representation. I own but one religious symbol, and that symbol is Bastet. Because Jehovah was a "jealous God," his chosen people prophesied the destruction of her holy city, Bubastis: 

"The young men of Heliopolis and Bubastis will die in battle, and the women will be taken away as slaves." Ezekiel 30:17

These events never occurred, although murderous persecution by Christians finally put an end to Bastet worship. Then came the Dark Ages out of which little good came, among them a 9th century poem by an Irish monk. Because this poem was written on the back of a page devoted to religious thought, a thousand years passed before its discovery in the recesses of a monastic library. Its anonymous author named the poem after his cat, Pangur Bรกn (which means A Fuller White), and its sentiments echo my own. A sampling...

Tis a merry sight to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind

14 comments:

The Blog Fodder said...

What a wonderful post. You have studied your cats meticulously and of course since they are cats have been able to draw no firm conclusions. You really are a cat person.
If Peggy was sick in bed, the cats knew that and were there to comfort her. We have one cat that KNOWS and is always there if someone is not feeling well. Tanya calls him her doctor.
Our cats are neutered and are indoor outdoor cats. They come home to eat in summer and go out to do their business in winder even though we have a liter box. Only one is a hunter and that is mice, rarely birds. We know that when they go out they may not come back. Our now deceased old yellow Tom would disappear for days at a time and come back beaten to hell, sleep for three days and go again. He was a scrapper. But mostly he stayed home with us.

Emma Springfield said...

About the cat who leaves dead things. I believe the dead thing is a gift of affection for the person.

Andrew said...

An interesting and at times amusing post. While we have had three cats, we only really loved one of them. The other two put up with us for food.

kylie said...

I believe that cats bring kills home to save them and eventually eat them

It's funny you mention rescue dogs who react fearfully of men. Our rescue girl is scared of so many things but she looooves men.

Your post shows infinitely more thought than I have given to cats. I think about dogs a lot but it extends to, that's cute, don't pee inside, I love this dog, has it been fed, that's cute and I love this dog

Strayer said...

I love this post. I hope you post more like this. I am rushed and harried at the moment, so feel I can't respond well to it. However, I have learned so much about cats since I began helping them, too much maybe, like how bonded they become, so that adopting one out, so that he or she leaves their dearest friends behind forever, is terribly traumatic on them. I cite Honey as example. I took her as a kitten from a homeless camp. I adopted her out as a teen. The woman had no other cats. I warned her Honey would be lonely without other cats as she'd grown up among many cats. Two months later the lady returned her, citing Honey's unhappiness. Once home, and out of the carrier, Honey raced in circles she was so happy, then ran and touched noses with every cat here.

Snowbrush said...

"What a wonderful post."

That means a lot--thank you. I look forward to allowing myself the freedom to post about subjects other than Trump and Trumpians. I'm sad to have alienated some readers with such posts, but the only way I could have avoided it was to have avoided the subject, and given that I saw Trump as an existential threat to my country, I couldn't very well do that.

"You really are a cat person."

Head-over-hills! Prior to the death of my last dog in 2012, I had dogs for almost every year of my life, during which time I didn't have a single cat that I was greatly attached to, but I'm content with only having cats now.

"Our cats are neutered and are indoor outdoor cats."

Overbreeding is by far the major cause of cat misery here, but my part of America, at least, has progressed to the point that I don't personally know anyone who wouldn't automatically have his or her pet neutered. Shelters here do it to every cat that comes through their doors, and then pass the cost along to adopters. This led one person to ask me why I paid over $120 for each of my cats when cats can be had for free on Craigslist. The answer, of course, is I would have had to spent the money anyway, so why not give it to a charity in which I believe instead of simply paying it out to a vet.

"Our now deceased old yellow Tom would disappear for days at a time and come back beaten to hell, sleep for three days and go again."

I had cats like that when I was a boy, but they were always un-neutered, so I'm wondering if you had Tom prior to neutering your cats. I'm only curious because I know nothing about the lives of such neutered males as spend part of their time outdoors.

"About the cat who leaves dead things. I believe the dead thing is a gift of affection for the person"

That's why I compared dead things to chocolates. Because the purpose for which cats give dead things to other cats is to inspire kittens to hunt, I go with that theory, which would include feelings of affection. I hope you understood that much of what I wrote here was intended as humor, but because a lot more of it was also serious, I can understand any confusion.

cont.

Snowbrush said...

"While we have had three cats, we only really loved one of them. The other two put up with us for food."

Cats are so strongly individualistic that I'm sure the other two might have turned out that way regardless, yet when I read this, I couldn't help wondering what else might account for their emotional distance. Could it be that you never really wanted them; or that you didn't have adequate time to devote to building a relationship; or that they didn't spend sufficient time around people when they were tiny kittens to allow themselves to be bonded to people? I also asked myself what I would do if I had a cat that clearly didn't care about me. I suppose I would either keep plugging away at trying to have a real relationship, or I would take him to a shelter and get myself another cat. Upwards of 20-years could be a hell of a long time to tolerate a cat who had the mentality of a boarder.

"It's funny you mention rescue dogs who react fearfully of men. Our rescue girl is scared of so many things but she looooves men."

Nearly all of the dogs that I met during my many decades of dog-walking either approached me with affection or with indifference. In this post, I simply meant to say that, when one did react with anger or fear, I of often heard the "He [or she] is afraid of men because he was mistreated by a man" explanation from women that I came to anticipate it. Now when Peggy and I are out walking, and we come across a cat, we often attempt to pet him or her, and I would guess that Peggy has better luck with it than I. One thing about walking without dogs is that I have come to realize how common cats are.

"Your post shows infinitely more thought than I have given to cats. I think about dogs a lot but it extends to, that's cute, don't pee inside, I love this dog, has it been fed, that's cute..."

I never gave much more thought to dogs than what you describe, but when we got Brewsky in 2010, I was like a new father who knew absolutely nothing about babies, and therefore worried that he would break it no matter how gentle he was. Likewise, I viewed cats as delicate, easily frightened, and unforgiving, and I spent a lot of time fretting how much food to provide, what kind of litter to buy, and how to keep him happy and entertained. Starting from a position of complete ignorance, every new thing I learned was so rewarding that I wanted to learn more and more and more. I had always regarded dogs as family, but I soon came to think of having a new cat as like having a new hobby. I started buying between five and ten cat-related books a month, and I was extremely pleased to note that Brewsky was the world's premier starter cat. Unlike a dog, he didn't give a rip about pleasing me, plus he was fearless of my scoldings, qualities that made my heart explode with love.

"I love this post. I hope you post more like this."

Thank you, thank you, thank you! How lovely was your story about Honey, and how glad I am that the woman returned her. I don't know how far you and I go back, but I'm pretty sure that I knew you before I got Brewsky in 2010. I'm also sure--completely sure--that our shared interest in cats binds us more closely (when you pronounced me "a cat man," I felt as though I had been knighted by the queen). One thing that I marvel at but know little about is the ways in which female cats differ from male cats. Scully is my most timid cat, and while I think it likely that this is due to her being female, I don't know 100%. I think I ran this by you a few years ago, and that you confirmed that it is probable. I just wish I had more direct experience with such things, yet after years of more or less torturing ourselves over how many more cats to get, Peggy and I are standing firm at five, so I'm unlikely to gain that experience.

Ruby End said...

Happiness isn't a constant state, it is like fireworks - there are bright bursts of it, the key is contentment and I think one can tell if an animal is content in your house, in their home specifically, and the same is true for humans. I see all animals as having a vast array of personalities, with certain tendencies to their species perhaps. Much like you I prefer animal tendencies to human ones.

"When to observe cats. All day everyday is best" - Hahahahahahaha. You shock me. I've also found shielding fully with Rosie an education, and although it will mean she'll never be happy again without me there, we have bonded all the more than before and before we adored each other.

I'm glad your cat clan give Peggy such love when she's feeling grim too, this past year without an animal in my life would have been unbearable I think, certainly extremely lonely with many less laughs. X

Snowbrush said...

In the section of this post regarding Sage teaching me to fetch, and added a quotation by Montaigne: "When I play with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me rather than I with her?"

"I see all animals as having a vast array of personalities, with certain tendencies to their species perhaps.

I would even say with very strong species' tendencies, something that also applies to a lesser extent, to the variants among the animals we breed. I know that my special love among dogs will always be confined to schnauzers.

"Much like you I prefer animal tendencies to human ones."

Well, it's a matter of perspective, of course.  For example, when I was a child, I thought old people were wonderful because they were gentle, took an interest in me, were tolerant of me, gave me candy, etc. Now that I'm old, old people don't seem even a little bit charming. We so rule every aspect of our pets' lives that they can't take a bite of food without us determining the brand, the quantity, and the time they eat it; and it's dead certain that the way they relate to us isn't the way they relate to one another. One of the reasons people love cats is that cats demand independence without regard for the fact that their very lives are completely in our hands. I think that to really love a cat, a person must also love the thought that here is an animal that won't perform a single action simply because it's demanded (in fact, they would die first). Yet, when they give us something of their own accord--like Harvey arriving promptly to lie beside me each morning (more about that in a moment)--it's as if the sun came out after days of fog. Of course, a cat is not a schnauzer, and so, for me, it's not a matter of which is better (I come close to tears just thinking about my little black schnauzers) but of which I choose at this time in my life.

"'When to observe cats. All day everyday is best' - Hahahahahahaha. You shock me.'"

They and I are continually moving in and out of one another's presence each day, plus we all have the many routines that we observe singly or as a family. For example, mid to late morning is my computer time, and so Harvey, knowing this, will almost invariably come and take a nap on the chair beside mine (he's with me now). Sometimes, I will have forgotten to put his pillow on the chair, so when I hear him meow, I'll go after it, holding him in one arm and returning with the pillow in the other. Like so many High Church Anglicans, my cats and I share a devotion to sameness, orderliness, and ritual. Perhaps this, more than anything, is why Covid simply hasn't been the problem for me that it has for many. I would even say that I'm happier now than I was prior to Covid because, now more than ever, I have my routines in place, and I'm freed from the constant thought that I really should get out of the house and socialize.

"I've also found shielding fully with Rosie an education, and although it will mean she'll never be happy again without me there..."

I worry about this. I know that you'll handle the situation well--just as you handled her insecurities well when you adopted her--yet I know it will be tough on her--and on you as well--for you to go away for any amount of time.

"...we have bonded all the more than before and before we adored each other."

I understand.

"I'm glad your cat clan give Peggy such love when she's feeling grim too, this past year without an animal in my life would have been unbearable..."

But then the day will arrive when normalcy returns, and millions of animals that believed they were loved and that their happiness would never end, will suddenly find themselves back on hard surfaces in sterile and noisy shelters. I hope I am being far too cynical in expressing this sentiment, yet I'm sure you'll agree that our animals deserve far better from our species than they receive.

Winifred said...

That's a great post, thanks for taking the time to write it.
We have two rescue cats and like you I'd rather pay the cat rescuers for cats that have been neutered, chipped and vaccinated. We didn't want any more cats after our last gorgeous little chap of 21 died, I wasn't sure I could face the trauma again. Also the reality is that they would outlive us and I would worry about what would happen to them. However my daughter adopted two lovely kittens and she persuaded me to foster cats so like the idiot I am I tried it. After a month of fostering two 7 month old sisters I hated giving them back so we kept them on the understanding my daughter would take them if and when anything happens to us. I was a total failure at fostering!
The smallest one was the runt of the litter apparently and she is certainly very vocal. The first night we had them they were under the bed and she cried for most of it. I spent ages lying on the floor talking to her. She still often cries and we have no idea why, maybe she just wants attention bless her.
I do let them out into the garden as they howl to go out and pace about but I call and whistle them back after an hour at most and give them some biscuits as a treat. You can certainly train them to do that, I did it with my other cats but these ones are the best responders! Quite often they're sitting at the door waiting to be back in.
Well during the lockdowns they have certainly entertained us with their grooming and playfighting activities, they're better than any of the telly programmes. My husband has never been much of a cat lover but he is certainly taken with these two great girls.

Marion said...

I hope Peggy, the kitties and you are doing okay. Got your vaccine yet? None yet in my city except for the government employees.

After over 50 years of cat ownership, I must correct you about the vermin brought to the back door by kitties. It’s a gift from your cat. ๐Ÿˆ‍⬛๐Ÿˆ I have been gifted over the years with headless mice, voles, moles, baby rattlesnakes, frogs, a crawfish, lizards, spiders and very seldom, a bird. Cats are God’s apology for creating Democrats. Ha! So, how you liking your new “leader”, Snow? xo

Bohemian said...

Dogs have Owners and Cats have Staff. We buried our last Feline Family Member in November and I've vowed no more, but I sure do miss having one... or should I say, them having me.

Snowbrush said...

"my daughter adopted two lovely kittens and she persuaded me to foster cats so like the idiot I am I tried it... I was a total failure at fostering!"

You and many others--including me. I persuaded Peggy to agree to fostering because I LOVE kittens, and I knew that if we fostered, we would always have a few of them to liven up our home. Our rescue group brought us three to foster--two short-legged black sisters and their beautiful gray brother, Harvey. To our surprise, they remained with us for about five months, and I would have adopted all three from day one. Peggy and I finally agreed that we would keep only one of them, and that one was Harvey. Before Harvey, I had passionately longed for a world-class beauty of a cat--my choice would have been a Turkish Angora--but Harvey cured of that longing because no cat on earth is more beautiful than he, and I got to keep him without feeling guilty that I was paying someone to breed some cats even while shelters are killing other cats simply because no one wants them. I am in hourly awe of having so beautiful a creature to share my home. As to the question of whether cats should be worshipped, how can something so beautiful NOT be worshipped! (Did you know that worshipped is usually spelled with only one "p" in America?)

"She still often cries and we have no idea why, maybe she just wants attention bless her."

I assume that she has a clean bill of health... Of my five cats, some seldom cry loudly--or meow softly--while others do it A LOT, but at different times and for different reasons. I greatly prefer vocal cats, although the voices of some certainly please more than the voices of others.

"My husband has never been much of a cat lover but he is certainly taken with these two great girls."

Peggy used to say that she hated cats, but the day after our schnauzer died (in 2010), she suggested that we go to the shelter and look at dogs. I jumped at the chance because it took YEARS for her to agree to a new dog after our previous dog died. Anyway, when the shelter didn't have a dog we wanted, she suggested that we visit the cattery. Again, I jumped at that chance also, and she selected the very first cat we saw. Although she insisted that we limit ourselves to one cat, she chose three of the next four.

Snowbrush said...

"Got your vaccine yet?"

I'm registered with Lane County, and they will email me when it's time to make an appt. Hopefully, that will be in the next week or so.

"I must correct you about the vermin brought to the back door by kitties. It’s a gift from your cat,"

I had included your theory in option three ("Corpses are to cats what chocolates are to us"), although you're not the first to "correct" me. Personally, I don't believe that you or anyone else can KNOW why cats present their humans with corpses, so I must demur to the best thinking of researchers--who argue that cats regard us as lousy hunters. This puts their behavior in the category of a loving act, but not in the category of a gift from an equal, as in, "When I was out killing things just now, I came across a snaggle-toothed Norway Rat with a gold chain and MOM tattooed on his bicep, and I thought you might like it for your birthday." Speaking of which, you yet again FAILED to give me anything on March 1--I was 72. You can still buy me a gift if you would like, but please note that dead things aren't much to my liking, although I would make an exception in the case of smoked fish.

"Cats are God’s apology for creating Democrats."

I take it that you wrote hurriedly and that this caused you to say the opposite of what you meant because, as everyone knows, God and Jesus are registered Democrat who often man phone trees. As for God's betters--i.e. cats--they became card-carrying Democrats during the days of Newt Gingrich, which was when the Republican Party became shrill, bullying, hypocritical, and contemptuous of the century old Feline Rights Movement and every other value that had drawn cats to it since the time of Abraham Lincoln. When Trump appears on TV, I have to immediately change the channel to keep my cats from scratching the screen, and Scully's toilet problems are clearly a response to stress brought on by Trump. No one who respects cats' interests, values, and wisdom would dream of voting Republican, although they might consider hanging framed photos of Biden and Harris over their cats' food bowls. Thankfully, the times are becoming fewer and fewer when they become so convulsed with outraged sobs at Republican wickedness that I must attempt to calm them by holding their little paws and gently rubbing their little backs.

"Dogs have Owners and Cats have Staff."

Bohemian, hello and welcome! As to the quotation, if a person adopts a cat who didn't spend intimate time with humans until he or she was too old to bond with them, it is no doubt true, but nothing is more clear to me regarding my own cats than that they regard Peggy and me, not as servants, but as family and playmates.

"We buried our last Feline Family Member in November..."

What a dismal start to what is--to me--a dismal season of the year. I am so sorry. People are so different about grief. If I lost a cat today--and didn't have other cats in my home--I would be wanting to adopt another cat tomorrow.