Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Friendship of a Cat

“Isn’t it lucky that cats have two little holes in their fur just where their eyes go.”
Victor Lewis Smith
  
I genuinely feel quite sad for those people out there who have never made friends with a cat; who have never felt the unique peace of laying their ear against a perplexed-looking kitty’s chest and listening to the perfect contentment resonating from a deep purr.

Even some people that have cats (although, that’s technically incorrect, as it’s well known that cats ‘have’ humans, and not the other way around) don’t take the time to experience the bond that could be. To them, their moggies are reluctantly fed and shooed out of the way – just another peripheral to family life, like the saucepan set and garden furniture.

I love dogs, too, but with their lanky legs, easy excitability and over-enthusiasm, they’re buffoons all of the time. Cats are graceful, elegant, cunning and only buffoons some of the time.

It’s a curious relationship we have with our pussos, and odd that we weave our lives around them so willingly. Some say this is due to mind-control, but I think it’s actually down to love.

They make even the clearest headed and most sensible person act like they have serious psychological problems. It’s like all that crazy talk and speaking in tongues, from both women and men, when their child is born. Upon meeting a kitten for the first time, it’s etiquette to talk to it in a very silly voice… and it’s a voice that stays with you for all your days together, unlike with human children, unless you’re a very, very patronising parent. I talk in different voices to all three of my cats. I just want to point out that I’m not mental – this is a cat thing.

Cats are known for their love of comfort, warmth and Sunlight, yet how many of us self-proclaimed ‘cat lovers’ have delighted in dropping our worried kitty into a foot of snow, just to see how they’d react? That’s not very nice, really, but we’ll be doing the same the next time there’s heavy snow.

Likewise, in a bath, with kitty at one end and the water creeping up toward them, waiting to see how close it can get before the cat decides enough is enough and take a hike.

Why can’t I walk in a straight line up the stairs without the cat trying to trip me up? And how come, most often, cats stroll lazily around, yet they seem insistent on running up stairs?

Why is it, when I make a mug of coffee and carry it back to my room, that the cat insists on walking directly below the steaming, hurty hotness?

What is it that makes cats think that it’s fine for them to scratch the bathroom door and barge in to watch you on the toilet, when if you watch a cat doing the same, they give you a look that lets you know you’ve temporarily become their enemy?

I shouldn’t need to be a champion Twister player to get into my own bed. I guess it would be easier if I were to shoo them off and not clamber around them, but for some reason, I’ve never tried that out. Mind control?

And there are times when they really spook you out, especially in the middle of the night. I went down for a coffee in the early hours of one morning and Orion, my big, fluffy, black cat, quickly ran down the stairs, skidded in front of me, looked at me with ears back and mystery in his eyes, then turned tail and hurtled straight back upstairs. He never explained why.

Particularly freaky is when they go stock still and look intently at something… that isn’t there… and you conclude you have a ghost in the house that only kitty can see – but kitty’s just doing it to mess with our minds. There is no ghost!

When human babies grow up, they become different and rubbisher, but dangle a string in front of a cat of any age and you have your kitten back, for a moment. Not even the grumpiest and non-compliant of our kitty friends can resist the wrigglies!

There’s nothing like a friendly head-butt from a happy cat, or a chilled-out snuggle on the bed, both just watching things and going nowhere in particular for a while.

I guess that’s why cats seem the more popular companion for writers. They’re happy to sit on the desk beside you and be stroked now and again; they’re rarely in a hurry, whereas a dog wants you to take it on a walk and throw things for it.

Anyone who can say ‘just a cat’ and mean it misses out on one of the greatest joys of life: real friendship and love that has no conditions attached.

75 comments:

  1. First time I've visited your blog, Les, but as a fellow cat addict I was nodding all through this. You certainly know your cats. As you know, they have common characteristics but each one is a unique individual. You're right, to say 'just a cat' is to miss the entire point. Mimi (my 16 year old tortie) has me exactly where she wants me and that's where I want to stay. Great blog!

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    1. Thank you, Catherine! I'm glad you found it! And yes, I agree - completely their own characters and never two the same. :-)

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    2. I like the Bill Cosby way of kids adapted to kittens. You have kids when they're 2 and turn them back in when they are 5.

      So, we have kittens when they are born and keep them frozen at 12 weeks old.

      I real like it when they arh thier backs & twist their bodies & then hop back & forth.

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    3. Loved reading this! I have 2 Siamese Mork and Mindy. Glad someone loves their creative companions as much as I do. Admittedly- I do battle to keep them off my wacom tablet when I'm illustrating. Always a time for a break :)

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  2. Yes, the absolute joy of a loving relationship with a cat cannot be bettered. Have you read 'Cats and Dogs' [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Cats_and_Dogs], an essay by H. P. Lovecraft? I'd also recommend 'A Cat is Watching' by Roger Caras.

    My two love loudly and proudly, but only Sooty does so exclusively with me. A real bond. There is nothing finer!

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    1. I haven't read them, but I'll take a look.

      The purring is brilliant, isn't it? I never get tired of listening to it. :-)

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  3. Charles L. Warden31 March 2012 12:33

    Currently owned by four unique feline companions and two occasionally bewildered hounds. I seem to have had cats since some of my earliest memories as a small child and have always been charmed and enchanted by them. One of my favorite sayings is the following: "Dogs will be friends with most anyone, to befriend a cat requires something special from within oneself. It also requires a strong self image, as they can let you know your place with a gesture."

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    1. I love that quote! It sounds like you've got quite a pride there - I imagine the dogs are one step down the chain of command to the cats, or maybe third, after you? :-)

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    2. You got that right Charles.. lol

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    3. Very true indeed Charles!!

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  4. Another lovely pussy post, Les. You're such a softie.
    eden
    xoxox

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  5. I've had a few cats throughout my life, though the best one was Tigger. She was pretty much the best cat anybody could ask for - sweet, loving, affectionate, loved to be petted...she would wait for me to get home late at night, and when I did, she would run after me into the bedroom. Damn, I miss her.

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  6. I also totally feel sad for those who say "it's just a cat and i don't like cat's" But, have never had one! My Ex Husband had a dog and i had a cat. He didn't like cat's..It's now been 6 yrs. since i've been gone and he Has cats, Not dogs. He grew to Love my Nikki and has not been the same since! lol - that's all it takes. I have 6 of the most loveable cat's in the world. I couldn't live without them..Altho, i do love all animals.

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  7. I love this post, Les. You understand cats quite well! I have a cat named Clovis, but she's not overly affectionate. She's feral, and we adopted her from the local shelter. Poor thing was a bone and sickly. :/ We have a dog, too, but I think I'm more of a cat person.

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  8. I just love this post. I giggled like a school kid all thru it. I have two cats and can relate to all of you stories. Wouldn't trade kitty love for anything.

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  9. Loved the blog! I think my cats (and I) have exhibited all of the aforementioned behavior. I also think some of the behavior is a bit death-defying, although not sure if my death or theirs is more likely. We've both had a few close calls ;)

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  10. Although I'm an outdoor enthusiast and I love all types of animals, I have a hard time getting through any day without a little cat time. And my cats really complain if 24 hours go by without some lap time. One is a sweet 'old lady' calico without a mean bone in her body, and the other is a rough tough serial killer and kidnapper of rodents of all kinds. He's also my guard cat when I'm outdoors. Between the two of them, they've got the bases covered. I put cats in all my books, too, because I can't imagine life without them. Thanks for a nice post. I'd purr if I could.

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  11. Why is it when cats run up the stairs, they have to do it at an angle, right in front of you? One of ours always gives this trilling meow when she does it, like she's laying on the horn. :)

    I have another one with whom I have a special bond. He looks at me with absolute devotion and sits either on my desk, behind me on the chair, or in my lap when I'm writing. He's not going to be with me much longer because he has cancer. Boy, is it going to break my heart when he goes.

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  12. Thanks you so much for writing this wonderful piece on cats, says me whose 17-year-old cat is snoring beside me on the sofa as I type these words. Other than God, I believe it is the total unconditional love of many felines through the years who have owned me that has helped check my sanity!

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  13. So true! I miss owning cats, but our current rental doesn't allow them. We've still made friends with a neighborhood cat, but it's not the same as having one of our own.

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  14. We are peas in a pod, Les. Glad Peter introduced us!

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  15. Wonderful text and so true.

    Michèle Suzanne

    Ever watched http://www.simonscat.com/ films ? :-)

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  16. You've summed up my life here! I have three gorgeous cats and they are the best friends I could wish for, despite their fascination with what goes on behind closed doors in the bathroom. I love how cats can tell what mood you're in, sometimes even before you do. My lovelies are brilliant for knowing exactly when I need a furry purry cuddle. You just couldn't ask for anything better!

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  17. Great post. We have always had a bunch of cats. Some own Mary, the rest own me. This year, two of my crowd have died, and the others are all trying to call dibs on me.

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  18. Thanks for the twitter follow! Unfortunately I just don't think I'll ever be a cat person really, but this is definitely a great post!

    Your newest follower,

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly
    Come on over for a visit when you have a chance:
    http://www.ascendingbutterfly.com

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  19. We have a gorgeous calico. She does the same things - like trying to trip us on the stairs, etc. She is also toilet trained (we don't have a litter box, I trained her to use the same toilet her people use). She has plenty of toys, and likes to play, but mostly with her own tail. We say "Sometimes, you have to make your own fun." LOL.

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  20. Lovely post, I have both a cat & a dog ( to go with different outfits!)and can honestly say I get a lot of different things from them both, dog has too much leg for a cuddle on the sofa, cat crap at taking for a run - although I often meet a guy walking his!

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  21. What a delightful post. I so relate. I am owned by four cats, and they bring joy and smiles and laughter to each day. And I'm sure you're familiar with kitty slow blinks -- pure love in those sweet little whiskered faces.

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  22. I lived my life as a dog person. Then this skin and bones ball of fluff took refuse in my garage one icy, winter's day. Now I don't know how my home was complete without her. Who knew?

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  23. Love your post! I've had both cats and dogs over the years and appreciate both but I particularly like a cat's aloofness--many people don't understand that quality--my brother once commented with shock, "they don't want to please you at all!" No they don't...and the staring at invisible things, especially in the middle of the night, can be unnerving!

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  24. My beloved cat used to climb up my back while I sat at my desk writing, drape herself around my neck and fall asleep purring. I lost her six years ago and I still miss her company. I appreciate your post and all the comments here from people who know what it means to love a cat. Thanks.

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  25. Well-said, Twitter friend! We have a kitten who is rapidly becoming an adult cat. I mourn for her youth, even now! And for those of you who love pranks like dropping Kitty in the snow bank: Try Kitty Handcuffs (loosely wrap her front paws with a rubber band or double-stick tape on the bottom of her paws. PS: Please don't turn me in to PETA!

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  26. So much of this rang true for me. I have three kitties and a dog. The dog is pretty-cat-like however (he really never cares if you throw things for him and seems quite content to just hang out near me whenever I'm home). The cats, on the other hand, gladden my heart every single day. :)

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  27. Hello Les! Congratulations you received the Versatile Blogger Award! Here is a link to my blog, please take a look: http://kates-reads.blogspot.com/p/versatile-blogger-award.html. As they say, with great honor comes great responsibility :)

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  28. Love this, you are right on!

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  29. Hi Les...my first visit to your blog. What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing. Cats play a huge part in our lives too and my husband is a certified dog-disliker (actually he'd say hater but I have seen him pat the occasional canine). Our cats, on the other hand, rule the roost :-)
    Alison
    www.alisonstuart.com

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  30. Hi Les,

    It is true that the importance of cats is too often underestimated. I love dogs too but cats can be surprisingly loving (they can't always have an ulterior motive can they?)

    Nice blog.

    Laura

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  31. Lovely blog. Cats are extraordinary. I think some people find them 'difficult' because it takes a greater degree of quiet presence to tune into them and communicate. With dogs you can carry on as 'normal' .. doing this and that and multi-tasking and thinking about something else, absentmindedly patting them and they'll wag their tails, but a cat always knows if you are distracted and not fully listening and paying attention. I credit my cat for always reminding me to slow down and 'just be'. And yes, he (my cat) does all those crazy things! But drop him into snow? NEVER! Not that there's been any snow to do that with here in Ireland! He's not a lap cat but every morning he curls into my neck and insists that my hand be positioned 'just so' -- so he can press his head into it. He'll sleep like that for as long as I can maintain the position. Heaven.

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  32. Lovely blog. Two cats share me; one rides on my shoulders 'cos it's easier than walking. The other shouts for me when he comes in and waits at the bottom of the stairs, rolling over and purring. And yes, the 'cat voice', slightly different for each one, their own personal songs (when no human is listening), the 'what on earth are you doing up/down/in there?' moments. And they know, they always know...

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  33. I have always been a "dog only" lover. We now have a cat that has won me over and I wholeheartedly agree with you article! Well done.

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  34. I totally agree with all that you write so well, what a great piece.

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  35. Loved this post and was nodding throughout. We've had cats for the past 22 years and I wouldn't be without them. We had 6 at one point and currently have 3 (x2 Maine Coons, Leo and Willow and our beautiful rescue cat, Sophie). They enrich our lives in so many ways and their love and affection is fab. I've never had Maine Coons before as have always rescued our cats but we got Leo and Willow as they are good with children. They are so funny. They play fight so much and race around the house chasing each other. This would be funny if they were small but Leo is now 20lbs (and only just over a year old so will get bigger) and he knocks over the chairs and ornaments as he goes. It's not funny, it's hilarious. Love them! Our cats have been with me through many sad times and have sat by my side or on my lap when I needed love and support. Best friends ever!

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  36. Thanks for this post, Les. My beloved black, long-haired cat used to climb up my back when I was working at my desk, drape herself around my neck and fall asleep purring deeply. She's been gone six years and the memory still makes me weep.

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  37. Thanks for this, Les! I share your admiration of cats. In fact, cats have been my dearest friends through the most difficult points of my life. I'm always so amazed that not only are people missing out on the sweetness of friendship with cats, they loathe cats. I don't understand how they can feel this way! Next time I hear such talk, I'll send them this post.

    Cats are a blessing: http://www.jodylamb.com/2011/12/about-furry-friends-and-their-impact-on-us/

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  38. Absolutely fantastic ode to cats, Les. I'm an animal lover in general--all of them fascinate me, all of them have their quirks of behavior that make them incredibly entertaining if one is willing to sit back and watch. But cats... Cats are unique in more ways than one. Thanks for sharing!

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  39. I like to consider my cats my roommates.

    You forgot one thing: Why do we all give our cats multiple names? Buddy, Princess, Lumpy, Monster, Tish, Spooky, Sascha; variations upon those: Lumporama, Spookalicious, Tishula, SaschMonster.

    All those names, yet I only have 3 cats. And in my home, they don't stare at ghosts, they look at fairies.

    I don't have stairs, but I do have dark bits of hallway. That's where they try to kill me. Also, they MUST be the first through doorways, except Sascha, who's afraid of them.

    Like many other cat people, there are things about cats I'll never understand. But I don't have to.

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  40. I like to consider my cats my roommates.

    You forgot one thing: Why do we all give our cats multiple names? Buddy, Princess, Lumpy, Monster, Tish, Spooky, Sascha; variations upon those: Lumporama, Spookalicious, Tishula, SaschMonster.

    All those names, yet I only have 3 cats. And in my home, they don't stare at ghosts, they look at fairies.

    I don't have stairs, but I do have dark bits of hallway. That's where they try to kill me. Also, they MUST be the first through doorways, except Sascha, who's afraid of them.

    Like many other cat people, there are things about cats I'll never understand. But I don't have to.

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  41. The ONLY bad thing about cats is that, unfortunately, they do not live as long as we do. ;-)

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  42. Our cat Squeaky chose us and is the smartest and most loving being in our home. Thank you for this necessary blog. Someone said "Until one has loved an animal, part of their should remains unawake."

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  43. Thank you for writing this. I have tears in my eyes remembering our beloved kitty cat BooBoo. She will always be our little girl and we would give anything to have her back.

    I had her from when she was born and have shared many stories with my husband. She used to love to leave her small plastic toys outside my bedroom door every morning, as oppposed to her mommy cat Princess would leave dead things outside on the back porch for my mom.

    I love all animals, but until you had the honor of having a cat love you unconditionally, I say that you can't fully appreciate true love.

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  44. I love this!!! I have had cats all of my life and you have described their behavior to a T!! I could not imagine NOT having a cat around. They are such sweet companions!! I do not understand how people could not like them at all. I do not like it when I hear people say "it's just a cat"! They have no idea what they are missing out on.

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  45. A few years ago I suffered from a serious respiratory illness accompanied by chills and fever. My big long furred male cat, Jack, took charge.

    He walked around my upper torso as I lay in bed and selected the area of my body that was the coldest and most congested. He lay on top of me in that spot and pressed his body hard against me, sending warmth to my deep cold.

    Then he turned on his purr, not like a regular purr, but more like a powerful healing vibrating engine that soothed. It felt so good!

    My doctor used a vibrator on me during my trips to his office. When I told him that I was getting vibration treatments from Jack the doctor was impressed and supportive. "That cat knows what he is doing."

    For over a month, Jack took care of me every night, keeping me warm and rumbling over my chest to help break up congestion and support my breathing.

    What a guy! I could feel the love.

    Once I was better he went back to his regular sleeping pattern, near me but not on top of me. He reset his purr to low and gentle.

    That cat took good care of me and saw me through a bad patch. Amazing and wonderful animals.



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  46. Love the post. I'm an accidental owner of 2 cats and pretty sure I'm not alone, there are some very heartless souls out there. Yesterday I watched my youngest resident stalking her tail balancing on the chair arm for a full 30 minutes with consumate skill.Yet when she happened across a Toby (a young wild rabbit)last year she was content just to thunder up and down the garden playing tag with it. And when one of the residents brought in a mouse very much living and breathing heavily, I discovered both them sitting staring at it waiting for it to do something interesting.
    Whenever I get bogged down by human problems my cats never fail to remind of what's actually important. That you don't have to have use your killer instinct or indeed do what's expected. Life is for living and the pursuit of logic is for those who have forgotten the meaning of fun.

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  47. Great blog, mate. Brought up with cats. Now I'm 45 - 3 1/2 years ago a stray that had been roughing it for a while decided to move in with me because she was pregnant. A month later and during the night, 6 kittens appeared and not a trace of the after-birth. She was the perfect mother. Lambie, as I called her, is still with me along with one of her daughters, Sponge. They fight like a human mother and daughter but in a feline fashion. Their personalities could not be more different. Cats are really smart. They know how to piss one off with the in/out game and the feed me game when they're not hungry - and they know they can get away with it. Can't blame them though. They never get the chance to get high or drunk like us human reprobates

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  48. Oh so very true - every word of this delightful piece! I have been a servant of a cat for 11 years now and still wonder why he does the strange things that you describe. I have learnt to just enjoy and chuckle at my 'kitten' as he will always be to me.

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  49. It's a great short article captivating the essence of feline family. Well done Les!

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  50. Only a true cat lover could understand & speak of these things with so much knowledge! I love all animals but cats have always had a special place in my live. Just recently lost my 17-year old Himalayan. She died of heart failure. I still miss her tremendously!

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  51. Cool piece, well written, says it all about puddy cats. I would never be without one, we have three. All three of them with distinct charm. Life would be incomplete without them!

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  52. Dogs are yes men if you know I mean but cats,cats are the friends that tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not.Cats have never forgotten that they were once worshiped.Honestly i have never met a cat that was just a cat.

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  53. Loved what you have written about cats. We have had several over the many years and had to say goodbye with deep sadness.

    I love how you wrote about the toilet, and about looking into space to make you think there are ghosts...I believe they ARE seeing them. :)

    We have taken care of a number of strays over time and have one now, that doesn't want me to be in the same bed as her. She loves my partner, who is male, but has bitten me and chased me right out of the bed a couple times. I am laughing while typing this but it isn't funny at the time.

    I will continue stopping by...nice blog.

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  54. So true... am a cat lover myself after having grown up with them. One of my two sits on my laptop when I try to write. We had a dog, brought into our home with all the right intentions... but he's living with my brother on law now who works outside and goes rabbit and pigeon hunting - they're a pair much better suited. Keep the cat for the writer and the dog for the active person. :)

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  55. Hi! I loved this and you've captured our gang completely! Our cats are all rescues, except for some offspring from 2 late-term females. All our cats are "fixed", very social, and a load of fun!

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  56. beautiful post! I've always loved cats-- I've cried more when they died than for family members. And you're right: there's nothing better than having a cat curled on your lap (or the top of your chair) while writing. They're just hanging out, and you're both doing your own thing.

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  57. Just had to put a seventeen year old Puss down. Lovely post describing their nuances beautifully!

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  58. I'm out of town for the week, so have been kitten-less (except for a screensaver of the wee-ones). Missing their purrs and their antics (although walking down the stairs is much easier and my toes aren't being attacked in the middle of the night). Your blog post made me smile: thank you for the cat-fix :)

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  59. Many people who don't own cats are put off by the many irresponsible cat owners out there. My own experiences of cats aren't great - my neighbours have them, and I constantly find their cat poo all over my garden when I'm gardening, and their tabby thinks nothing of bringing me the birds it's killed - a male blackcap yesterday. I don't hate cats, but can't love them neither - cat owners are responsible for the death of over 55 million birds every year. I'd rather have a garden full of birds than a cat on my lap.

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  60. Great blog. 4 cat family. I hate to travel anywhere as I miss the cats. By the way they are inside cats so no birds or gardens harmed

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  61. Anyone who has never had a relationship with a cat, doesn't know what they are missing. And each one is different. I got my Sylvester (a tuxedo) soon after Cleo the Calico cat went to the angels, and he is so funny, he cheered me up immediately.

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  62. We have 5 cats, & they all have their own little quirks. This was a very eloquent & accurate description of what life with cats is like.

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  63. My Russian Blue Popeye does all these things and more. I'm a writer, too (a novelist) but my cat is a passive/aggressive enemy of literacy as he insists on sitting down between the monitor and me or on my notebook as I'm trying to type a manuscript. And, as much as this irritates me (I'm a dog person but can't get a dog since I'd rescued Popeye in 2009), all it takes a lovable head butt to get me back on an even keel. Knowing he won't be around as long as me, I give love whenever he wants it. Because when his time comes, I know I'll be haunted by all the times I'd ever refused him love so I never refuse him, regardless of how far he puts me back in my writing schedule.

    That doesn't stop him, however, from biting me or pissing on my bath mat every day without fail for no reason whatsoever.I think someone dropped him on his head when he was a kitten.

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  64. A house is not complete without at least one kitty they are little Zen masters!

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