Oh, how I love cats! I adore their exotic eyes, their dainty grooming habits, their clever paws that can snatch an object as it barely breezes by. They have sensors on their paws, and that tells them that dinner—or a play object—is near.
Cats do not steal a baby’s breath! I had a lot of cats and a lot of kids, and never once did I worry about the cat somehow taking away one single breath. No, cats will put their noses to a baby’s mouth to smell the milky breath, and the cat’s tender, gentle touching of the nose is simply a mark of affection. Even cats are suckers for babies (and I have a brand-new granddaughter!). Sometimes, a cat will investigate if an infant is crying—and human babies can often sound surprisingly like kittens.
Cats wag their tails not just when they are annoyed. In fact, they may even be pleased when they twitch those tails. Tail wagging is a sign of stimulation. You may see a cat crouched down, watching a squirrel that has wandered near kitty’s habitat, tail twitching. Similarly, when a cat is rolling in ecstasy in the catnip, his tail moves because he is stimulated. It just indicates that the cat is on the alert.
Cat purrs are not always the result of great pleasure. Purring is also a way to relieve stress, and an injured or even dying cat may purr to comfort itself. But if your cat is in your lap while you stroke his neck and he begins his song, you can be sure he is very pleased to be with you and enjoying the attention and affection.
A particularly touching tale recounts that the baby Jesus was unable to sleep, and a small cat timidly stepped forward and curled up beside the infant. The baby quieted and went to sleep. Mary gave the cat a small mark—an “M:--on its forehead, and the tabby cat was honored forevermore.
Dwight Eisenhower detested cats and ordered that any that wandered on the White house grounds should be shot. I am sorry to say that I have lost a great deal of respect for this commander, who helped to win a war, yet would wage one against these gentle creatures.
On the other hand. Abraham Lincoln adored cats, and he was often seen with three or four kittens playing at his big feet, climbing up and nipping him. Winston Churchill also cherished cats.
Domestic cats are descended from feral cats, but they would perish quickly if left by themselves. Even cats who grow up in the wild have a very short life span before succumbing to disease, accidents, or exposure and starvation.
Cats are not aloof. People who don’t like cats are aloof. Anyone who has treasured a beautiful, soft, affectionate cat knows how much they rely upon human attention and affection.
No one is really sure how a cat achieves a purr. Some say it’s a vibration of the vocal chords, others think that the cat constricts his throat muscles. However it’s done, it is an extremely soothing sound. Studies have shown that residents in nursing homes are calmed and comforted by the sound of a purring cat. I worked in a nursing home at one time and would take some of my cats in. One woman, who had been having a difficult time adjusting to her new home, quietly settled when I brought my giant Maine Coon for her attentions. They would cuddle for an hour or two, and cat and person were both happier for it.
Years ago, I read a book about “Cat Art.’ Of course, it was an elaborate joke, but one of my sons and I decided to experiment. We set up an easel easily reachable by Spooky, our small, six months old kitten. We had several cups nearby filled with poster paints—red, blue, and yellow. We showed Spooky how to dip his paws (ok, we did the dipping) and to place his paws on the paper (right again, we moved his paws). But after about five minutes of this, he was curious enough to create his own paintings. I still have a few of his best!
Written by Gay Fifer, owner, Parsley Hollow, Inc
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