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Archive for the ‘Myths Uncovered’ Category

Anyone who has been lonely and bored enough to follow these adventures from the beginning will realize that several months ago a post was labeled as the first part of a series entitled “Myths Uncovered.” So that our gentle readers will not lose heart entirely and sink to the level of watching reality television, the second in the series will now be provided. The first three myths in the series may be reviewed here; we begin with the fourth.

Myth #4: Cats are creatures of habit.

This myth is difficult to debunk, as it is partially true. However, it would be more precise to state that although cats may behave erratically, they expect their caretakers to be creatures of habit and their surroundings to remain constant. Bear, for example, has learned over the years that shortly after the time of getting up in the morning comes the time of sleeping on the bathroom rug, where she strategically places herself so as to trip the caretaker when she steps out of the bathtub. For many months, Bear would follow the caretaker everywhere in the morning. Now, however, she has become more proactive and precedes the caretaker in her morning routine. Most days, she finishes breakfast and makes her way to the bathroom rug whether the caretaker is present or not. It’s always good to get a head start on naptime.

Buddy, however, picks and chooses which part of the morning routine he wants to support. After making sure that the caretaker is up and busy, he disappears, sometimes to the spare room to sleep, sometimes to the kitchen to clear the breakfast plates, sometimes to the living room window to spy on the last raccoons of the morning, and sometimes to the bedroom to rifle through the laundry. And sometimes to stalk Bear as she quietly makes her rounds, which brings us to our fifth myth.

Myth #5: Cats do not feel guilt.

A couple of days ago, the caretaker turned a corner just in time to catch Buddy sneaking up on Bear. He halted just before his final move, which by all indications would have been to pounce on Bear’s unsuspecting flank. Suspended briefly in midair, Buddy stared up at the caretaker with a look of confusion blended with a depth of guilt that is generally lacking in both cats and congressmen. Though not a meow was spoken, his attempt to recover from this faux paw (sic) was worthy of a politician, as his face wrote novels of excuses in breathtaking Hemingway style:

Oh, hello, hooman. I know this looks bad, but what really happened was that Bear was just walking in front of me and I just was minding my own business and then she suddenly sat down and it’s not my fault that I almost ran into her because I was distracted by thinking about how much trouble you go through to make sure we have a good life and besides I always give my sweet and beautiful sister plenty of room to express herself because I would never oppress women and there truly wasn’t anything bad happening here and I wasn’t trying to hurt her so you don’t have to get upset or anything because you know that’s not good for your health and we can forget all about this, right? But please stop laughing.

The scene broke up as Bear wandered away in disgust. She cannot bear the sound of laughter.

Myth #6: Cats are aloof.

Again, a partial truth at best. It is quite true that cats want human contact only on their own terms. The caretaker has found that the surest way to get Buddy to stop aggravating her at 4:00 in the morning is to grab him, hug him, and talk baby-talk to him. But what precedes her attempt to regain her own personal space is always a completely un-aloof furry face planted strategically in her face or neck, attempting to bring her back from blissful rest to painful reality. Some mornings she is jolted awake by the tickling of whiskers on her neck; some mornings by the insertion of a wet pink nose in her eye. No aloofness here.

To the casual observer, Bear appears aloof, but that is an illusion she reserves for some of the substitutes who feed her. What looks like aloofness is mere laziness. Her theory is that there is no point in wasting energy on substitutes who do not stay around to dote on her. When the caretaker is at home, Bear is actually quite clingy, following (or preceding) her everywhere and sometimes ending up underfoot. When the caretaker is seated, Bear is never far away. As this sentence is being written, Bear’s head is a mere three inches from the caretaker’s arm. When winter comes, Bear will strategically arrange herself so that her entire back is adjacent to the side of the caretaker’s leg. This is a maneuver requiring advanced geometrical and physics formulae to ensure that the greatest amount of body heat is conserved. Perhaps these mathematical feats deserve their own myth to break (that cats are not academically inclined) but unfortunately the calculations are accomplished entirely in Bear’s head, so there is no way to prove her utter brilliance.

Once again, the lesser hooman wins all the academic glory, simply because cats do not require calculators for their solutions. The world is not a fair place at all.

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Over the past two years with Bear and one year with Buddy (happy anniversary, kitties!), the caretaker has slowly come to realize that the cutesy interpretations of cat activities found on the Internet do not come anywhere close to capturing the cold, hard truth of the darkness that festers in a cat’s mind. So in the interest of public safety, she will now attempt to debunk a few myths and provide accurate descriptions of the thoughts behind feline behavior. Think of these as a sort of reverse Cat Rule concept. Cat Rules are truisms that the cats want you to know because it simplifies their lives if you conform. The field guide, however, provides information that the cats would prefer you not know. It is to their advantage to seem sweet and non-threatening. Don’t be fooled.

Myth #1: “A cat’s blinking eyes are the equivalent of kitty kisses.”

Are you still talking?

Are you still talking?

Reality: Most of the time when a cat blinks her eyes it is because she is drifting off to sleep. It certainly is not because she is giving you any thought whatsoever. However, from time to time, Bear will blink slowly and purposefully while the caretaker drones on about the weather or her day at work or the price of tea in China. If there is any sentient thought to THOSE blinks, it is only this: “Oh, you’re talking yet again. Perhaps if I close my eyes hard enough, you’ll be gone by the time I open them again. What, still here? All right, I’m closing my eyes AGAIN. Please be gone when I open them. Or at least be quiet. Now I’m opening my eyes. So you’re STILL here? And STILL talking? *Sigh*”

Myth #2: “When a cat nibbles or scratches your arm, it is a sign of affection.”

Reality: This is true only if by “affection” the speaker means “appetite.” There is a reason why two types of cats are included in the phrase “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Lions and tigers and Bear (as well as Buddy) all have sharp teeth and claws that are intended primarily as hunting tools, but can also double as weapons. Either way, they are deadly. The truth cannot be denied, gentle reader; cats are predators. Even though your sweet little Tomcat Tootie does not have teeth as sharp as those of Elsa the Lioness, he is nonetheless an animal with a very real potential to be dangerous. So we would like to offer a kind word of advice to all cat caretakers: Please get a grip on reality. You have an animal in your house. An animal. On purpose. And you feed it and talk to it and invite it to sit on the couch beside you, possibly even to rest its head on your arm while you type inane blog posts about it. Forgive our boldness, gentle reader, but if your arm is nibbled in the process, you should not be surprised. You should, however, be a bit concerned if the taste-testing escalates. It just may mean that you will be supplying dinner, quite literally.

Myth #3: “My cat seems to know when I’m feeling down, and he comforts me.”

Reality: While it is true that cats can sense a caretaker’s melancholy and may seem especially concerned when she weeps, there is no reason to believe that their actions have anything other than a selfish motive. A weeping caretaker who looks up to see Buddy’s wide-eyed face turned sideways in a worried look may desperately want to believe that he is showing sympathy or even empathy to her in her sorrow. Not so. He is actually sizing up her ability to continue providing meals in a timely fashion, should the weeping continue or worsen. That, of course, is Plan A, and to Buddy, her continuation of these tasks would be the best-case scenario because it means he will also get his water bowl refilled and litter box cleaned. Plan B is a bit more sinister, as he is also wondering if the salt in her tears will act as a tenderizing agent should he be forced to consume her (please refer to previous myth).

These three myths have only scratched the surface (so to speak), but perhaps that is enough reality for one day. There is no need to divulge too much solemn knowledge at one sitting. But study well, gentle reader, for there will be a test. And your life may very well depend upon the outcome.

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