The Company of Cats
I love cats, not just a single cat, buts cats. I can’t imagine my life without cats. But, not everyone understands this.
When someone comes to our door, the cats all come running, tails straight up, offering greetings, rubs and chirps and meows. The visitor looks and asks, “How many cats do you have?” They think, “Are you nuts?” I think, “Can’t you count?”
I defend my choice to have cats because I love having cats. And it’s no one’s business but my own, the number of cats living here. We look after them, feed them nutritious food and take them to the Vet for shots and check-ups. We brush them daily and trim their claws as needed. We keep their water and their litter clean. Yes, the cats create work, as does any pet, but our cats are worth it. Our kitties are well looked after and in turn look after us.
When I am ill (and I’ve had months of that), they comfort me—lie down beside me or on top of me to rest and purr me well. It is impossible to nap too much for them. They are solicitous when I am upset; enquiring in chirpy voices about what is bothering me. When I am happy and full of energy, they are willing to play until I am tired again. How can I not love my cats?
When I am writing, they congregate in the room with me, on the bed, on the window ledge, on a bookcase or at my feet. When I am stuck with a piece, they respond with a chirp or a purr, a questioning look or an encouraging gaze. They keep me company and don’t disturb my work...well not too much. There are times when they want to sit on the writing desk and put their paws out to capture my hand for a pat or a rub. There are times when they know I should take a break and they sit on my paper or jump off the desk with my pen.
I asked a cat-breeder and friend, “How do I know if I’ve turned into a crazy cat lady?” She chuckled. “When there are more cats than people in the household.” It’s too late. We crossed that line three years ago.
Edward Gorey, a renowned artist and writer, loved cats too. He contended “between 4 or 5 didn’t seem to make any difference,” though 6 were too many, “disproportionately more, than five.” We are not at 6, nor even at 5. Like his cats, ours don’t go outdoors, ever. But indoor cats don’t lose their wildness, “they retain all their jungly qualities no matter what.”
Isn’t that what makes cats so fascinating? The unpredictable balance between affection and wildness. I think it is. And cats so obviously see the world in a healthy way. They know how to measure the times for rest and play and serious work. Cats bring a fresh perspective to everything.
How many cats do we have? Well, we love the company of cats. I believe there is always room for one more.
As long as we stop before six, of course.
NOTE: To learn more about Edward Gorey, please click here. The photos are copyright @Carol Steel and are of Oliver and Nicholas, two of our very fine cats.