I wrote about dogs and promised to follow up with cats. Honestly, of the two, cats are my favorite and I have a special connection to them that doesn’t exist with dogs. They seem to come into my life in weird ways. Blue Mew showed up on my doorstep at two in the morning and Mr. Blue wasn’t even born when his parents’ owner asked if I wanted a kitten at the local market. I’m also feeding our local feral cats, so I am definitely considered the cat person of the neighborhood. The following are some of my favorite highlights of catdom and why cats are awesome.
1. They pick their own homes.
Cats tend to select their own families, finding homes in unusual ways. It is not unheard of for kittens to show up on doorsteps, in yards, and even rescued from dumpsters and cars. Some of my own personal experiences I discussed above in the introduction, but these are not the only stories I have. I fed the feral cats in our old neighborhood, too, where a pregnant mother found the dishes and decided that our porch was going to be her nest site. Though she was shy herself and wouldn’t let anyone touch her, she let us play with and pick up her kittens. When she died unexpectedly, we took the kittens in and they were adopted by two other cats who came to us under unusual circumstances. The last of that litter, Callie, was still living with us when she died just a few months short of her nineteenth birthday. She spent her entire life with us.
2. They have very acute senses.
A cat’s senses of smell and hearing are far sharper than even a dog’s. A dog hears a dog whistle, a cat hears the electric current pulsating through an appliance. They can smell their prey hiding in the grass from several feet away. The feline sense of touch is just as sharp, hence the reason cats get bitey when they are petted for too long. It is amazing what a cat can sense, which may be why they are known to predict tornadoes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, among other catastrophes. (No pun intended.)
3. They are empathetic.
Cats are famous for their cold exterior, which has become the subject of several internet memes and jokes. However, cats are very empathic, especially toward their own people. They always seem to know when their people need help or affection, even if very little outward sign is shown. Mr. Blue always knows when members of his family are upset, sick, or otherwise in need of some sort of attention, at which point he will offer his famous “purr walk” to remedy the situation. Meelet always seems to know when I’m having sleeping problems, coming to sleep on my chest until the insomnia passes.
4. Their purrs have healing powers.
This is at least true for the cat themselves. Medical studies have discovered that certain frequencies of purrs help heal a cat’s bones and tendons. This does not stop them from using their purrs on others, though. I suffer from strange episodes that resemble seizures and whenever they occur, Mr. Blue comes over to sit on me with a specific purr that he never uses at any other time. It seems to help this problem, and it also helped with a bout of severe abdominal pain a few years ago. I don’t know how he figured it out, as I never trained him for this job, he just decided to do it one day.
5. They are excellent climbers.
Cats can climb to some of the most amazing places. It not unusual to see one on a roof or high in the tree somewhere. Some breeds of cat, mainly the Norwegian Forest Cat, can run down a tree or other vertical surface head first. Cats seem to defy gravity in some cases, climbing chain link fences and brick walls, sometimes with kittens in their mouths. It is amazing to watch the tight places that felines manage to get into, including the places they climb to sleep. Physics definitely works differently in the cat world!
6. They have a strong homing instinct.
A cat always seems to know where they are, no matter what’s going on, and no one is entirely sure how their inner compass works. Some cats have traveled hundreds of miles to return to old homes after moving or when accidentally separated from their families. I have been on more than one search for one who “went home” after ending up some place they didn’t like. A childhood cat named Isis only went a few blocks to return to our old house after a move, but it was still an amazing feat. She rode from our old home to our new home enclosed in a crate with no view of the outside, yet she somehow found her way back without getting lost.
7. They are self-cleaning.
Yes, there is very little maintenance involved with most cats, at least where cleaning is concerned. They wash themselves and bury their own waste. It’s rare to need to bathe a cat, as they will keep themselves clean even under overwhelming circumstances. Recalling Isis again, she somehow got herself covered head to toe in excrement, but she ran away before anyone could catch and wash her. When she came back the next morning, she was spotless and there was no indication she had ever been dirty in the first place. Dogs could learn a lot from cat cleanliness.
8. They are creative players.
Cats provide an endless source of amusement for human beings because of their creative games. They will play with an assortment of toys and like to be amused at all times. (At least when they are not sleeping.) When two cats are together they can entertain each other, though they often resort to mean pranks to amuse themselves. Some cats have been observed engineering quite complicated plots, in fact. Another childhood cat, Perkey, used to lure neighborhood felines to the back yard fence, where our dog Casey would scare the crap out of them, all for Perkey’s twisted amusement. It is fun to see what cats come up with.
9. They are good protectors.
It’s not just dogs who protect their families from harm. There are many stories of cats who have woken their humans up to warn of fires or gas leaks in the house, one even risking his life until he was sure his whole family had evacuated a burning building. Cats have charged abusers, burglars, and even murderers who have attacked their humans. There are even legends concerning Korat cats who went into battle with their trainers and would throw themselves on the enemy. Blue Mew, my old Korat mix, was fiercely loyal to me and I have no doubt he would’ve defended me if the situation had arisen.
10. They are very intelligent.
Despite what some people would say, cats are highly intelligent. Just look at some of the other things I’ve discussed about felines in this one article alone. It may not seem like they are smart, but this is more due to their stubbornness than anything involving their intellect. A cat refuses to learn tricks because he finds them boring, not because he doesn’t know how. It takes quite a bit of intelligence for cats to figure out some of the complicated human technology that they learn to use, such as electronic toys or automated feeders. Mr. Blue has even learned how to select his own YouTube videos on my computer’s touch screen, even if most of what he picks are mouse trap videos. That is not the sign of a dumb animal.
There are a lot of things I could say about cats that I didn’t cover in this brief article. These are just some of my favorite qualities and stories. They are more than just animals or pets. Cats have chosen to live and work with us, and I consider them a blessing and a gift. We should give them all the respect they have earned in their place at our sides. Cats are awesome, and we should never forget it!