The Big Cat in the Little Cat

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?


  1. I wonder if animals don’t function simply from the sub-conscious where connections are made holistically and at lightning fast speeds?

    We humans filter the results of our sub-conscious ‘thoughts’ through the logical, prefrontal? cortex or whatever it’s called. That slows everything down except in times of great danger when we seem to function at superhuman speeds. We feel totally ‘now’, as if the conscious and sub-conscious are finally working perfectly together.

    Is this the way our brains should be working all the time? Or is there a reason we can only achieve this harmony only for very short periods of time?

    Apologies for waffling on. I’m rather interested in this topic too. 😀

    • Candy Korman

      I’m also VERY interested in this subject. The neurological aspects of FEAR are at the heart of the new novel-in-progress. Fear focuses our big, messy, flighty brains like nothing else. It’s the one time when we go back to being the prey of a serious predator. What is bravery? Is it foolishness wedded to an ideology? What about the fear of taking social risks? The fear of financial risks? The fear of taking a leap that would lead us to a new adventure or end our lives entirely.

      When a cat (large or small) leaps to the top of a high dresser, they’ve assessed the risks and calculated the arc of their jump in an unconscious (or subconscious) level of thinking. We do this sort of thing too. Judging that it’s OK to cross the street against the light because we see how close the oncoming cars are at a given moment in time. We dive into the wave to ride it to the shore… but what if we were not hampered by fear? Wow… what leaps we’d make!

  2. I have an eight-pound cat and a nineteen-pound cat, but it’s safe to say the little cat is in charge. Maybe it’s because he was the first to call the house home? Pets are indeed entertaining, but they really do teach us a lot about how we might be better served to go on with our days. Especially dogs. They are so in the moment. I am working on being more in the moment.

    • Candy Korman

      Although I’m cat person, I will admit that dogs seem to have the “enjoy the moment” thing down pat. They are also very connected with their humans. I just read that the heart-melting look dogs give their people releases oxidocin. So a dog’s happy look is like a hug. Cats, with their reputation for reserve, enjoy affection but seem to retain a strong element of their predator ways. Perhaps that’s why I see them as the prototype for an alien life form?