As I write this, my 10-pound cat is sitting next to me. He is definitely a little cat. He’s not even big for a housecat. But the evidence of his connection to big, ferocious felines is there. It’s in the way he pounces on a toy, sits in rapt attention on the windowsill when the pigeons are preening, and in the way he stretches and cleans his paws.
Not being a real nature girl —and living in the center of a city— I find myself studying my cat as an example of a non-human creature. Although most of the monsters I write about are human, I’m always experimenting with the beasts outside my usual frame of reference.
As I try to imagine a beast of prey attacking a vulnerable animal, I look at his relentless nature. When he his intrigued he is 100% intrigued. When he is bored —he is BORED. He yawns and goes on his way. The human small talk dances that are so much a part of our interactions, serve no purpose in his animal life. The closest he comes is a casually happy nuzzle or a lazy extension of his paw to touch my leg.
What is he thinking? Does he think? Not the way we do, but… it’s tempting to imagine what occupies his mind. It’s a step toward creating non-human characters and thinking about different kinds of intelligence and how instinct drives animals to make quick decisions. Quicker, in many cases, than our pondering big brains allow —studying my 10-pound predator gives me ideas about the lightning fast connections his brain/body make with fluidity and speed. Even as he ages, he still has the desire to play.
How wondrous and odd to live without regret and second-guessing. Perhaps that’s the key to understanding a completely alien form of life?