On Our Great Feline Companions

A close-up shot of a fluffy white cat's face with one green eye and one blue eye. You get the feeling this cat is a bit weathered. It's seen things.
Photo by Sergey Semin.

Did you know I love cats? I love cats.

Here are some meditations on the cat by Leonard Michaels from his book A Cat.

First of all, those knowing eyes:

You look at a cat, and it looks at you. You have the scary idea that a cat is a kind of person. You look more carefully and let the cat’s eyes tell you what it sees. It sees you are a kind of cat.

A cat always looks into your eyes, as if it knows that you see it with your eyes. As if it knows? What a mad idea. A cat doesn’t even know it has eyes, let alone know that it is seeing you with its eyes. And yet it knows, it knows.

If you think long enough about what you see in a cat, you begin to suppose you will understand everything, but its eyes tell you there is nothing to understand, there is only life.

And then there's the lonely soul:

When it comes to loneliness, a cat is excellent company. It is a lonely animal. It understands what you feel. A dog also understands, but it makes such a big deal of being there for you, bumping against you, flopping about your feet, licking your face. It keeps saying, “Here I am.” Your loneliness then seems lugubrious. A cat will just be, suffering with you in philosophical silence.

I remember once, a roommate complaining that she was sitting on the bed crying and the cat wasn't coming to comfort her. I always knew somewhere in my heart that it wasn't indifference. This is what it really is: the cat says, "Yeah, me too," or perhaps, "We're all lonely, you don't have to make such a show of it," depending on its mood.

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