A Short Analysis of Our Pet Cats and Their Obscure Behaviour
Is it possible, I wonder, to study an animal so closely, to observe and catalogue its peculiarities in such minute detail, that we lose sight of its poetry?
My passion for cats began as a young boy, perhaps no older than ten. During my enfeeble and forlorn school years, while the rest of the children were transfixed with football and bike riding or superheroes, I would hare across into the small public wooded area behind our house; which also served as a familiar residence and hunting ground of our domesticated cat, Suzie.
One spring evening as I blissfully rested in a tree, eyes looking upwards to a lifeless canvas of blue sky my mind being reduced to blankness by the various concerns of the day, I began
peering downwards in hope of a different sort of spectacle, when my attention was suddenly drawn toward movement occurring off to the right in my peripheral vision. It was Suzie, she was hunched low to the ground, her shoulders raised high and eyes were pierced wide as her tiny paws slowly proceeded to creep towards a large abiotic bush a couple of feet ahead. I watched with attentive curiosity as she patiently approached it with calculated precision, her back legs soon began to momentarily gyrate from left to right before she pounced with unsettling momentum into the foliage and out of sight. Within a second a sudden ensuing screech was quickly cut off, followed by the distressing sounds of a futile struggle.
A few minutes elapsed before my ostensibly innocuous pet distinctly emerged with a deceased crow draping defeatedly from her very jaws. And it was precisely within this momentary event that my passion and reverence for felines arose. What a contradiction of sorts to witness such an innocent and cute creature whom displays nothing short of affable qualities of harmless affection around the house was now seemingly leading a predatory double-life.
For unknown reasons, the desperate cry of that bird halted me where I sat. In my instant of paralysis there on that tree it felt like me, that dying bird and my cat were sharing a private and profound moment together. So much about life, death and the natural world was intensely felt in such a fraction of time. Stranger yet, I thought I understood the purpose behind the cry with a biting clarity. I felt the kinship of pure and undiluted animal fear along with all those other creatures much smaller and more vulnerable than I who had heard the scream as I had heard it that day. Life instantly cut off – and for what? I never looked at my pet the same way again.
Although I had recovered my motor abilities in the aftermath, I found that my equilibrium was not so easily regained. Some facet of the experience had struck a chord in me, forged a connection between my dulled and jaded adolescent self. I hurled myself into the study of my subject with renewed fervour. Please don’t be mistaken here. I had not become disenfranchised with my pet, only passionately curious and differential towards her as an intriguing creature. Similarly, as a scientific understanding of the beautifully synchronized and articulated motion of a cat’s graceful nature does not impede a poetic appreciation of the same phenomenon. Descriptive prose which nonetheless convey the violent and terrible essence of their predatory subject matter effortlessly only serve to remind you the reader of a facet to cats you already know, however, at the time this was all very much unknown to me.
From that moment on I remember immersing myself avidly into reference books and gradually my knowledge and interest in this species became encyclopaedic, all thanks to the treasure of iridescent wonder that is the cat, and furthermore, for the raw nature my Suzie unveiled that day.
Fortunately, my respect for this species now lies not in their hunting capabilities but rather in their charming personalities and display of intelligence and independence, uncommon in most household pets. Nowadays, when I observe some specimen of Felis catus, I try to look past their probing eyes, see beyond their variously patterned coats arranged by sporadic lines and dots and colours, like a perfectly crafted firework display. Rather, I try to see the species so venerated by the Egyptians whom considered them divine. Whose image were carved into hieroglyphics, forever on display and silently sharing their immortal wisdom with those who are observant enough to notice.
As Terry Pratchett once declared: “In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”
Perhaps this is the key to understanding their nature?
Thank you for reading. This is little more than an introductory post and I hope to share more cat wisdom with you again soon.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Lee Nolan