If you think about it, it’s kind of crazy that we let cats live in our houses. Unlike dogs, who are unfailingly loyal while presenting us with their protection and fetching services, cats offer us nothing but their companionship, and only on their terms. Among all domesticated animals, cats are the most closely related to their uncivilized ancestors (and without socialization at a young age, can remain feral). They head-butt to show affection the way lions do. They prowl through the apartment at night hunting for prey despite the bowl of kibble set out for them. They are miniature tigers that we allow to live in city apartments. Imagine a housecat the size of a Great Dane, and then imagine adopting one. You probably wouldn’t. Like Mother Nature or Miley Cyrus, cats cannot be tamed. Their wildness is one of the things I love about them.
People who aren’t into cats don’t simply dislike them; they seem to hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. Cats’ aloofness and indifference tend to turn people off. They are the misanthropes of the animal kingdom and offer no apologies. Us cat owners know that our cats will only be petted when they want to be petted. And when they aren’t in the mood for it, they have no problem letting us know. While canines cornered the market on puppy dog eyes, cats have mastered the withering glare.
Those of us who consider ourselves cat people all seem to be in on a little secret. Maybe we see a bit of ourselves in these beguiling creatures–resourcefulness, a fierce independence, and perhaps even a secret belief that we are difficult to love. We don’t let just anyone in and are not easily won ever; it takes time to build our trust. I love our two pet cats because we get each other.
One of our cats, Ginger, is getting older and has been dealing with health issues for the last few years. Even when she is pain, she never gives the impression that she feels sorry for herself. Instead, she continues to stalk through the apartment like a proud little lion ruling over her domain. When her legs stiffen and she cannot jump as easily onto her favorite perches, she simply steals the dog’s bed without remorse. The dog quietly moves to the floor, knowing her place in the hierarchy.
I feel like I can learn a lot from Ginger–to face suffering fearlessly, to be fierce and brave, to take the place that I want and feel that I deserve. She may be a mini-lion, but she doesn’t believe she is mini at all.