The Mysterious Cat
“Cats are mysterious kind of folk -
there is more passing in their minds than we are aware of."
Sir Walter Scott
What Is It About Cats?
There has always been something mysterious and fascinating about cats, but what, exactly, is it that makes them so special?
Since practically the beginning of time, cats have been loved and respected. The Ancient Egyptians revered them so much, they even mummified and entombed their dead bodies, just as they did their humans. Did Egyptian dogs get such royal treatment?
Whatever causes the feline mystique, it is certainly still in evidence today. People are still enthralled by the graceful creatures, even if they don't credit them with the same god-like status the Egyptians used to give them.
My Own Cats
I have been a cat owner all my life. Or should I say that cats have owned me all my life, for sometimes it seems as if that is indeed the case? Either way, ever since I came out of my mother's womb, I've been living with cats.
And, yes, I've seen my fair share of mysterious behavior from some of them. Here are just a couple of examples.
My Mysterious Cat: Gray Kitty
Gray Kitty was a neighborhood cat that we thought was a stray because she didn't have a collar on, and she was always hanging around our house, eating our cats' food. She officially moved in shortly before I moved out of my parents' house, so she went with me when I got my own place.
Even before we moved, though, I'd noticed a really peculiar behavior of hers that I'd never noticed before with any other cat. Gray Kitty liked (and still likes) to chew cardboard. We are forever picking up cardboard shavings all around the house (yes, we have that many boxes sitting around because we just moved).
I always wondered why my cat chews cardboard, and I think this is one mystery that even I could solve. When you get right down to it, there wasn't much mystery at all - the poor cat is just bored easily, and chewing cardboard is a way to alleviate that.
Another Mysterious Cat: Fluffy
That's Fluffy in the picture to the right. He was born in our house. We raised him from kittenhood, and while his brothers and sisters (and his mother) never had a problem with using the litter pan, Fluffy did. To the day he died, he never stepped foot inside a litter pan.
I'd always heard that cats instinctively go to a litter pan, and this has always been the case with every other cat we've ever had. I never did understand why he wouldn't use the litter pan. He did, however, use the pile of newspaper we would stack in the corner of the family room as his bathroom.
We tried every trick in the book, or at least I thought we did. He just absolutely refused to use the pan, so we had to follow him around the house with newspaper and stick that behind his butt when he looked like he was going to spray something.
I've not had a cat act like that before or since, so it is still a mystery to me why he would. Maybe I'll never really know why.
My Favorite Cat Mysteries
I talked about my favorite mysterious cats. Now I'll mention my favorite cat mysteries.
I've always been a fan of the "cozy" cat mysteries. I love a good mystery, but I hate all the violence that is present in so many mysteries today. Cozy cat mysteries provide a refreshing alternative to all that, and there's the added bonus of having a cat featured prominently in the story.
Several authors are currently writing in this genre, but two of my favorites are Lilian Jackson Braun and Rita Mae (and Sneaky Pie) Brown.
Braun, of course, is the author of the famous Cat Who ... series. Brown writes the Mrs. Murphy series. In both sets of books, the cats help their humans solve murders and other crimes. And Mrs. Murphy even talks. Koko and Yum Yum do, too, but not in as human a voice as Mrs. Murphy. Not that their humans (Qwilleran and Harry) can ever understand them ... But they still talk!
The older Mrs. Murphy books are, I think, much better than the newer ones. There's much more mystery and much less political/social commentary. I'm not sure why Brown changed her writing style so drastically, but I wish she hadn't.
Still, if you love cats and you love mysteries (and many people, in my experience, do love both), you'll want to check out at least some of these books.
Cat Who Books
The Mystery Continues
As long as there are cats on the earth with humans, they will continue to be mysterious to us. And as Sir Walter Scott said, we will probably never know half of what passes through their minds. But one thing's for sure: Cats will always be great companions to humans.
They may not be as affectionate as dogs (although I would argue this - cats are just affectionate in their own way), but they certainly are good lap warmers on cold nights when you're sitting in your favorite chair reading a cozy cat mystery!