Photo essay: Holy cats!

Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in Features

Photo essay: Holy cats!

by Steve Cartwright

Cats are contrary. They need us and they don't need us. We own them, or is it the other way around? Cats cost us, but if you love them as I do, you often feel amply repaid by their affection, their grace and beauty, their seeming independence.

Of course, cats can be cantankerous curmudgeons. They can annoy endlessly by habits such as sitting on the dining table, scratching furniture until its ragged, meowing in the middle of the night. Some cats do none of this; some have other irritating habits. In that sense, I guess they're a lot like us.

I remember when the kids were young and how much Gingersnap meant to them, and then Tops'l after Gingersnap died at 19. If Joel or Chelsea felt sick, the cat stayed with them, watching over them or snuggling beside them. Of course, cats look out for themselves. I might think the cat cares about us when in fact the cat cares about the cat.

On the other hand, or the other paw, Tops'l will trot right up to greet one of us and clearly that's not seeking food ... she certainly appears to recognize her family. To me, cats look wise, intelligent, witty, curious and mischievous. What a great combination. Cats embody qualities we should nurture in our children. They can explore, befriend all sorts of animals and all sorts of people, provide companionship without "talking," and they know how to climb trees and also how to completely relax. Cats are the reigning experts on naps. Cats are never sleep-deprived.

In fact, cats are seldom deprived at all. They fend for themselves and they know how to put others to work for them. Others like me. Oh yes, I'm a cat person. There are those folk that don't like cats, just as, incredibly, there are people who don't like children. Ah, their loss. I think most people at least appreciate cats. If everyone who loved cats honked their horns, there would be a mighty din.

Many cats are bad news for birds, but then, we eat birds too. Too many cats is not good. I'm happy with one delightful feline and no litter box; she must use the cat door and go outdoors.

There are many jokes about cats, most of them admiring. Cats are classy, crafty sophisticates. Just watch a cat walk or groom itself. They are cute, playful, astute, watchful. They seem very well designed, able to prowl about one moment and curl up on your lap the next, purring in blissful contentment. They are finicky eaters, or are they just gourmet?

They are a world apart from dogs and that is where jokes such as "dogs have masters, cats have wait staff" come from. Cats are masterfully clever and I love them dearly.

And here is a tribute from one of the great Renaissance writers and humanists: "When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?"  ~ Michel de Montaigne, "Essays," 1580.

Cats provide real home comfort.


Steve Catwright (actually it's Cartwright)

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