There are cat people and there are people who don’t get cats. And I don’t mean the Simone Simon classic CAT PEOPLE horror film or the remake in the 80s that I somehow managed to miss.
If you are a cat person, if you live with one — or two or more — domestic felines, sooner or later you are going to realize that there’s a bit of tiger in the small creature curled up on the sofa. Morse (named for the Colin Dexter detective) opens “cat proofed” cabinet doors with a combination of persistence and agility, overcoming his lack of opposable thumbs. He likes to sit on my printer, sleep on my pillow and chase bouncing balls.
Having cats most of life, I’m acutely aware that, like people, no two are alike. But all of them have a tiny bit of tiger. They stalk prey (a bird, a mosquito or a catnip toy) with full hunter’s concentration. They hiss, growl and yowl. They aren’t talking, but they are communicating loud and clear and it’s a good idea to listen.
Years ago I learned never to cross an angry cat. Calypso, my calico who lived over 20 years, decided that the man I was dating at the time had overstayed his welcome in my life. She was right. I was dithering, working on the relationship, but the cat knew it was time for him to GO! She lunged for his jugular and I intervened. I’ve never seen anything like that before or since. She was a murderous monster with a tail and whiskers. When her monstrous storm passed, and he was gone, she curled up on the end of the bed as if nothing unusual had happened.
Every cat as a little bit of tiger — an unpredictable potential for violence; they are little monsters. The trick is to love them because of the tiger and not in spite of it.
- Tiger, tiger burning bright
- In the forests of the night
- What immortal hand or eye
- Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
- — William Blake