Sunday, 6 December 2015

Lost Cat

The library sent me 'Lost Cat' by Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton from my 101 books list. It came recommended by Brainpickings so I felt a little disappointed that it did not really have much about it. I mean, it's a cute little story and all that, but that's pretty much it. It's a book for cat devotees, and while I am definitely a cat person and not a dog person, I am not that kind of cat person. I refer to my cat as a cat for a start, not a 'kitty'. I think my decline in fond affection for cats dates from taking Lulu to live in a terraced house in inner-city Manchester, that she hated, and started peeing on the playroom carpet, and I clean it up, and cleaned it up again, and again, but always felt like the house smelt faintly of cat pee, and so although, when we moved to the countryside and she was content again that was lovely, when she was killed by a car a couple of years later I was not really so sad. The other cats I have owned have all been at the request of the children and I am convinced that I am highly unlikely to become a crazy cat lady in my old age.

I think it is the case that people who are silly over animals will very easily bond over that silliness, and that is the enduring appeal of this book. If you check out the website it appears to be a catalogue of lost and found stories from around the world. I think that the appeal of cats can be that, unlike dogs, at least part of their existence is unknown to us as owners. They go off into the night and we have no idea where. But at the same time people want their cat to be attached to them in the same way that they are attached to the cat; anthropomorphism is the main problem here, when it comes down to it, cats really do not give a bugger. So the story is not so much about the cat as about the people. It passed from the sublime to the ridiculous for me when she goes to a class to learn to communicate with her pet:

"Suddenly there was a rush of thoughts in my brain.
'Is Wendy staying?' Tibby asked. 'Are we going to get another comfy chair? Are you going to calm down?'
'Aren't I calm?' I said back in thought picture.
'Not really. You seem to be worried about things. About the future. The past. What's so great about the future and the past?'
'Well, I don't know,' I said. 'This is what humans worry about.'
'Well, humans are kind of dumb,' Tibby responded.
'Hey,' I said, adding a thought-picture of OFFENDED, ' this human has fed and cared for you for thirteen years.'
Tibby ignored this. Instead I heard, 'So, what's going on with this injury anyway. Is it ever going to heal?'
'Heck if I know,' I sighed, touched that he cared.
Silence.
'Hey, class is wrapping up, so I gotta go,' I told him.
'You humans, in such a rush,' Tibby said. 'You know, this injury might be the best thing for you.'
'Really?' I said. But Tibby was already gone.
The teacher told us, 'Great job! What a success,' but I wasn't so sure. Had I really talked to Tibby, or had I just been talking to myself?
That night, I stared into Tibby's eyes, trying to put all I'd learned that day into play. I stared at him and he stared at me.
Nothing.
Eventually, bored of our game, Tibby put his head on his paws and went to sleep." (p.83-4)

Amusing, if you like that kind of thing, but glad I hadn't spent money on it.


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