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It's a little kitty!

"A pounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." (BMcC[18-11-46-503])

"How can one compare the constructive value of a single house cat with the negative devaluation of thousands of mean-spirited or just unthinking so-called 'people'?" (BMcC[18-11-46-503])

"Kill the cat" "Kill the car" (BBC video essay on making cities more women-friendly)


"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt 25:45)


Anent the immediately above quotation: Professor Emeritus Louis Forsdale once told me of his experience during World War II of being the audio-visual aids officer -- he was a junior Lieutenant at a (the?) U.S. Army officers school(college?). The commanding general of the school introduced "Lieutenant Forsdale" to all the officers, and explained to them that they should treat what he might say as if he himself was saying it. I think that was a good general.

My name is: "Chat". I am just a little house cat. I am a threat only to mice, chipmunks, small songbirds, voles and rabbits. But I've got cattitude! And I've got relatives who are bigger than I am. Meow! I said: Meow!

I currently have house two cats, two Maine Coons (yes, that's elitist, but what's wrong with being a class act/cat?): (1) "Nibble" [name to be explained below], and (2) "Magnolia" aka "Maggie" [ref.: the Rod Stewart song "Maggie May"]. I have elsewhere here in A place to study quoted a beautiful thought about cats (and humans) from Claude Levi-Strauss, in my page "For the spirit alone lives; all else dies". I prefaced that quote with a picture of a cat who is no longer "with us", Abiko [name to be explained below], looking to me like she would qualify to sit on the tribunal at the Last Judgment. I urge you, my reader, to read the quote.

The invasion of the kibble snatcher

Maggie (aka Magnolia) cat -- Maggie's objective in living seems to be: to eat more. I feed the cats only wet cat food (Fancy Feast seafood flavor pate), except for giving Nibble a small serving of dry food kibbles each morning in hopes it will help her dental health. Nibble seems to enjoy the kibbles. But Maggie is always ready at hand to try to get them first, including, the day I start writing this, being so fast that I didn't notice she was wolfing the kibbles down before I even had a chance to lift Nibble up off the floor and onto the kitchen counter to eat them. [Maggie perches atop a high kitchen cabinet and races down to the kibbles; it's war from the air.] I carry Maggie away and hope she will not return until Nibble is done. I understand that, the previous evening, part of a stick of butter had inadvertently been left out on the kitchen counter and Maggie ate it all before anybody realized the error of having left the butter out. There is a dog, Zara. Maggie goes for the dog's food before the dog can start to eat it. I think Maggie well earns her name. Maybe she is a symbol for capitali$m, whose watchword might be: "More is more"? (Fortunately Maggie's greed has not led her or anyone else to the denoument of Erich von Stroheim's film.)

But Maggie also has some endearing properties. Whenever she makes a significant muscle movement, she emits a sweet little trill, like it's the sound of her [Lebens]motor. Her paws are white-tipped (white socks). When I go to put the food bowl down on the floor for the two cats (they share one food bowl and one litter box), Maggie, looking up as if hoping for something, reaches her little white-tipped front paw up trepidantly to touch the lip of the bowl and begin tentatively to curl the tip of her paw around the bowl's edge, presumably to pull it toward her.

I can plop Maggie down in my lap, rear end in my lap, back against my chest, front paws in my two hands, and her head sticking up, looking around. She will stay there for a long time, me playing with her paws and petting her, turning her head this direction and that, looking around at the surely all too familiar room we are sitting in. For no reason (salt deficiency?) she will lick my hand. One night for no reason I hear she bit Mimi on the nose. I'm thinking we need to give her more attention to try to "civilize" her more; it is much easier to pay attention to Nibble, and Maggie doesn't seem to much care if she is all alone. She just wants to eat more, and she aggressively attacks food containers to get at what's inside them.

When no food is available, Magnolia eats toilet paper à la roll. Some humans are know-it-alls; Magnolia is an: eat-it-all. Which reminds me that in Abel Gance's great silent film: "Napoleon", there are a couple clerks who save persons from the guillotine by eating their documents (literally!). The film calls them: "Eaters of documents".

Magnolia is an omnivore: she eats everything. If she ran a newspaper, its masthead would contain the legend:

All the news I can eat.

+2021.03.06. Yesterday the veterinarian, upon being informed that Magnolia is up to 20 pounds (up from about 15 a year ago), said it is time for "tough love" to get her weight down before she becomes diabetic. Who ever heard of "tough love" for cats? It's diet time for my (BMcC) cats!

"Good Nibble"

Nibble cat has a very different personality. She got her name because apparently when our adopted daughter, Mimi, was a baby, she [original name from breeder: "Berlinetta4" ref.: a model of Ferrari automobile, which I shortened to: "Etta"] gently nibbled on Mimi's fingers/toes. Mimi also calls her: "Nibbler". Anyway, Nibble seems to be a very sentitive, even "clingy" cat.[2] This may be due to infantile trauma: Her mother got mastitis and was unable for a time to nurse her kittens. Nibble and a brother were farmed out to another cat to nurse. Nibble was the runt of the litter, but she survived; her brother did not. I think Nibble is a Claude Levi-Strauss cat. "Man weiss nicht...." At least she tolerates being treated that way. When I took Nibble to the vet recently, a veterinary assistant volunteered that she was a "sweet" cat, who even purred on their examining table. Nibble is also highly judgmental. Nibble should be designated as a Living National Cultural Asset.

No lost cats!

I am also the unwilling owner of a dog: Zara. Wife and daughter desperately wanted a dog and I did not have a choice in the matter. I have written about my feelings about dogs elsewhere here: Some thoughts about earning a living versus living. Zara is a chronic problem for me. It's almost an obsession. Zara needs to "go out", both for her general "spirit", and also because dogs, unlike cats, are not generally "kitty literate" (I once had a manager, Kim Kinsey, who said her Chihuahua used a litter box, which I cannot vouch for). Problem: The kitchen door is frequently being opened for Z to go out/come back in. Each opening is a chance for a "Lost cat", because my cats are strictly indoor cats, and I doubt they could find their way back home if they got out, but they -- especially Maggie! -- are curious.... and they also like to sit at the back door and watch the kitty TV show of chipmunks (--etc.--) in the back yard. They may not know the old Ponderosa Steak House advertising slogan: "You don't know how good it is until you eat some place else". I don't know, but I don't trust them to know what's best for them ("best for them" in my opinion, of course!). I don't want to lose either of them. And I believe that if they did get out and wandered off, they wouldn't know how to find their way back home or to fend for and feed themselves in "the world" -- not even the relatively benign world of an upper Westchester County New York suburb. The neighbor across the street has an indoor/outdoor cat, "Owl", whom I occasionally see "around" and so far seems to know where his dinner is.

"Lost cat"s are legion, as can be seen from Xeroxed pages stapled on utility poles, and, of which, one of the few visitors to our house in this time of coronavirus lockdown told me, she had one (not found). My wife also once had a coworker (Amy Cohen), whose husband was a pretty serious scientist. They spent summer vacations at Woods Hole (Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts). They took their 2 cats with them and let them out, there, like they let them out at home. On one visit one of the cats went out and did not come back. They desperately searched for the cat and never found it. Something different: I once knew of a young cat that went to sleep one day in the warmth under the hood of a parked car's engine and died there after the car was restarted (guillotined in the fan belt?).

"We" have domesticated cats, or at least they have allowed us to domesticate them. They have thereby lost at least some of their wildcat ways and all of their wildcat Unwelt. I think we have incurred a reciprocal obligation to them.

A thought about kitty litteracy

[3]

Each time I conduct the minor secular sacrament of scooping out the cats' litter box, which is twice each day, I pray that I shall not be reminded of Lieutenant General Henry Shrapnel (3 June 1761 -- 13 March 1842)'s eponymous invention. Great day when the cats leave only big, robust "clumps"! But fragments are almost impossible all to remove. In general, cleaning the litter box is analogous to a Buddhist monk raking a dry garden (karesansui, example: right) in their temple.

An experiment in feeding 2 cats

10 July 2020CE. I have 2 cats, one a glutton, the other reticent. I always fed them 2 cans of Fancy Feast in one bowl. Hopefully, a peaceable little kingdom, in shared alimentation. Previous day, however, was a mess. I put the 2 cans of Fancy Feast in the bowl. Reticent cat ran away. I went to recapture her so she could have her lunch. I left bowl with cat food on a table. While I was away looking for reticent cat, gluttonous cat knocked over the food bowl, breaking it almost symmetrically in half. Angry me. But then I thought to try something: To continue to use the two shards, thus creating 2 food [half-]bowls, and put one can of cat food in each. (As Foghorn Leghorn might have said: "Two half cat food bowls make a whole cat food bowl.") Tried it this morning. It seems to have worked. Both cats came and started eating, each from her separate [half-]bowl. A couple hours later, both [half-]bowls empty and neither cat bothering me for food. Good result continuing as of 20 July 2020CE.

Who was Abiko?

Do cats think? What do cats think? What do cats think about? What do cats think about people like René Decartes who don't think cats think or think cats don't think? Think about it. Meow! (Jack Ziegler cartoon, The New Yorker magazine)
What's new, Pussycat?

I named "Abiko" after my mother-in law: Abby, combined with the Japanese designation for "small": "ko". Women in Japan often have names ending in "ko". Japanese history is ambivalent, but there are many things of Japanese culture that I love, including "The Tale of Genji" ("the world of the shining prince"), and some handcraft pottery, esp., Bizenware (see example, above). Abiko was a strange cat. When we got her my wife already had another cat, Jethra [ref.: Jethro Tull]. Abiko bonded with Jethra, even if the love was not much reciprocated. When Jethra died, Abiko had psychological problems, and took antidepressant medications for a while. (Was Abiko even somewhat psychotic?) When Mimi was a baby, when Mimi cried, Abiko would cry also (a "loose boundary"?). And Abiko would sleep in Mimi's crib. Abiko never hurt anybody, especially, Mimi, whom she seemed to be protecting.

Abiko, "Little Abby", also loved to catch mice, and she was pretty good at it. One night she snuck down the basement of our then house and when I found her on the basement steps the next morning, I took a photograph which I titled: "Abiko on mouse patrol in Kitty Tora Bora". (I loved to take photographs of the cats and give the photographs evocative titles, e.g., in the case of our other cat at the time, Misu: "A tisket, a tasket, a Misu in a basket". I also created web pages on my personal website like: "Misu kitten 'Cat so soft...' (Mirabile Misu!) Appellation Maine Coon Cat contrôlée".)

The Maine Coon cat is the largest domestic cat breed, often referred to as: "the gentle giant". Maine Coons are characterized by little tufts of fur at the end of their ears: lynx tips. I digress: Galileo Galilei was a member of the "Accademia dei Lincei", the Academy of the Lynx. But I think Maine Coons can be more beautiful than real lynxes. Also there was/is a nice text-based web browser named "lynx", with which I used to try to make my personal website reasonably compatible (as often: Silly me!).

But their little heads are so small?

I sometimes wonder how much can be going on an a house cat's little head. But then I try to console myself by thinking that if some extraterrestrial came to earth who was each individual as big as an old IBM System 370 Model 168 computer (bigger than most tract house living rooms), those creatures might wonder how there could be much going on in human beings' little heads.

Conclusion

So there are some of my thoughts about cats, esp. "my cats". I believe somebody wrote that one of the reasons The Black Death plague was so bad was that people [I use that word as a pejorative because collective noun which does not respect individuals] killed cats but cats killed rats which carried the plague, so the people reaped what they sowed. I think thinking about cats can be of far more than zoological interest (Claude Levi-Strauss did too, as you have read here).

More good thoughts / facts about higher animals: here.

As always, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thess. 5.21). "Take what you like and leave the rest" (ACOA dictum). Ojala! Vale! (you, my reader, or your cat, can email me at: bradmcc@bmccedd.org)

Abiko resting on a pile of clothes on a chair, behind a newspaper (05 January 1997) in my then home office.

+2022.09.12 v006
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Footnotes

  1. Your Comment on Your Pandemic Puppy Was Not a Mistake
    The New York Times <comments@nytimes.com>
    Mon, Aug 8, 4:28 PM (11 hours ago) [_2022.08.08]
    Your comment has been approved!
    Bradford McCormick | New York
    Cats too!
  2. I'm thinking Bob Dylan's song "Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands" applies to Nibble, at least the music; the lyrics I do not much understand. As for myself, I finally heard an apt description for me: "mentally fragile". Yessir, that's me. Me and Nibble.
  3. Your Comment on Yes, You Can Do Better Than the Great American Lawn
    The New York Times <comments@nytimes.com>
    9:42 AM (6 minutes ago) [+2022.06.18]
    Your comment has been approved!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with The New York Times community.
    Bradford McCormick | New York
    Give me a break! There is a really gracious, elegant, even medtative alternative to America's addiction to lawns (as a child a nextdoor neighbot died in the line of duty: a heart attack on his ride-on lawnmower. Ride 'em, Lawnboy!): Japanese raked gravel dry gardens. These are exquisite works of art and raking the gravel rather than doing servile labor (mowing grass, etc.) is for the monks a form of meditation, and it can be for you too. The closest thing here in USA is, if you have a sweet housecat, raking kitty's litter box. Meow!


Meow!


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