The mysterious allure of cats

Source: Itty Bitty Kitty Committee

I have never been a cat person. If you know anything about me, it is probably that I am totally OBSESSED with dogs. But, lately, cats have been very interesting to me.

Don’t worry: I’m not going to get a cat anytime soon. But I would like to learn more about them.

Volunteering at the SPCA has changed my tune about cats. I used to proclaim that I really disliked cats. I don’t say that anymore. I still don’t understand cats, but then again, who really does? I can read a dog’s body language quite quickly, and I like to think I’m pretty good with dogs, on average. But cats? They mystify me.

For example, the last time I went to the SPCA, I decided that I’d spend a few minutes in the Cat Socialization Room. This is a little room with a TV and a loveseat and two litterboxes where eight to ten cats roam around daily. I tentatively walked in and crouched down, waited for the herd of kitties to come to me. I didn’t make any sudden movements. A few came up and sniffed me, but one attentive tortoiseshell put his paw on my knee. I was thrilled. “He likes me! We are going to be friends!” Without my encouragement, he climbed up in my lap and settled down.

I began to slowly stroke him and he started to purr. This continued for a minute or so, until, in mid-stroke, he turned his head and bit me. Not a play bite. This was a “Get away from me now” bite. He jumped off my lap. I was bewildered. What did I do? I moved around the room again, stroked other kitties, and then I felt a paw on my knee. Same sassy tort. He climbed back in my lap, of his own volition, and I let him stay there. Then he tried to bite me again. Seriously. What IS up with CATS.

Dogs would not do that. If a dog pulled a stunt like that, he’d be diagnosed with some kind of brain deformity/chemical imbalance. But cats? Apparently this is normal behavior. I asked my coworker about it; said coworker has 11 (yes, 11) cats and is a general expert on felines. He told me that he had a few cats who would act like that–solicit attention and then lash out for no apparent reason. His best explanation was that cats are extremely complex and they can change their minds from second to second.

So. Things I have lately learned about cats:

  1. Not all cats are aloof; some actually demand affection from humans.
  2. Cats are way more unpredictable than dogs. A cat’s mood can change in the blink of an eye, while most dogs tend to be temperamentally stable in given situations.
  3. Cats cannot truly be called domesticated, as Temple Grandin points out, since they could switch back to being feral whenever they wanted to. Modern dogs, on the other hand, could not survive without some proximity to people, which therefore indicates that dogs can be truly called “domesticated.”
  4. Per point 3, cats are not nearly as attached to humans as dogs are. Evolution does not necessitate their development of a close relationship with humans, although it can happen, should the cat deign to extend his favors to you. For example, cats are not necessarily attached to their families. They can–and will–leave home for months at a time. Most dogs (unless you have an intact male husky) wouldn’t dream of such a thing.
  5. Pregnant ladies should not have cats! Kitty litter will make your baby come out like a cyclops or something.
  6. Cats are very low-maintenance pets. They don’t need even a tenth as much attention and training as dogs do.

I like the idea of getting a cat, one day, many, many years from now. I am not half as interested in cats as I am in dogs, but I think I would like to have one around. Mainly because they make any room in your house look more interesting and glamorous.

To conclude, a photo of the only cat I’ve ever loved: Kitteh.

Kitteh and me in Denver. Source: Grace Farson

Kitteh was my landlords’ cat when I was living in Denver for a summer. Her official name was Kitty, but I found that dull, so she became Kitteh. (Apparently, her people now call her that full time. I am proud.) Kitteh was very docile and affectionate. She slept in my bed with me on the downstairs floor, climbed on my stomach while I was reading, was generally totally wonderful and soothing. If I could get a cat exactly like her, I would.

cat nap
Oh, Kitteh. I love and miss you. Source: Me

Monday Snax

Love
Alex and Kelsey came for a weekend visit!
Sister time
Nothing is better than time with one's sisters!

We had a delightful (if extremely hot) weekend with Kelsey and Alex. They are a lot of fun and I’m so glad they were able to drive up for a few days. We ate dinner, grabbed dessert and drinks at The Local, sweated around downtown, and introduced them to the joys of “Friday Night Lights”–and didn’t want them to leave! In other exciting news, though, Win is moving most of his stuff today into his swanky house in town. Our crafty plan is to get all of our family members to move to Charlottesville… so far, it’s working. A few more photos on Flickr.

Snax with lemonade so refreshing you wish you could just bathe in it:

When All Is Lovely. Oh, nothing. Just pictures of my dream life, that’s all. (La Porte Rouge)

Elmwood in July. Can I live here, too? All peonies and rowboats in the mist? (An Apple a Day)

A Dinner Party. Amazing things like this happen all the time in Charlottesville. Sarah of JohnSarahJohn writes a guest post for The Charlotte about a classy party she threw at the new store on Main Street. (The Charlotte)

A Cube with a Clever Layout. With the help of a Japanese designer, UVA graduate Alison Threatt builds this crazy house in the woods outside of Charlottesville. Featured on the New York Times this past week. (NYT Home and Garden)

Height and Cancer. So, I used to be proud of the fact that I was a tall woman. No more! Because now I’m going to DIE of CANCER. For sure. (The Hairpin)

Molly Stern: On Makeup and Motherhood. A down-to-earth makeup artist to all the biggest celebrities talks about how she juggles her looks-driven career and her children. (Girl’s Gone Child)

Mark Twain’s Illustrated “Advice to Little Girls.” Twain provides some tongue-in-cheek advice to his daughters, presumably. (Flavorwire)

It’s a Bunny’s World. Indeed. Totally getting a precious house rabbit like this lop one day. I wonder how a German shepherd would deal with that… (Pawsh Magazine)

Cats vs. Dogs: Infographic. I mean, clearly, dogs win here. (The Hydrant)

Seeking Redemption One Kernel at a Time. A food blogger says some nice things about much-maligned corn. I concur. There’s nothing so great in July as corn on the cob. (The Sweet Beet)

A Visit to the Chocolate. Where is this? Can I go right now? (Andrew + Carissa)

Riding Bikes While Wearing Skirts. I am also a huge proponent of this practice. Although, perhaps, I am too enthusiastic about it, as I once mistakenly tried to ride my bike around campus in a wrap dress. Yes. I sufficiently flashed the entire student body and not a few significant professors at UNC that day. (A Cup of Jo)

If Women Ruled the World. As a feminist, I’m not supposed to like this, but… it’s funny. (And probably true?) (French By Design)

Sandra Reichl: A Face a Day. Someone should write stories about these people. What a cool project. (Design Work Life)

A Few Things You Probably Didn’t Know about “Friday Night Lights.” For instance, that “Taylor Kitsch earned the part of Tim Riggins by chugging two tall boys in his audition video.” But should that surprise anyone? No. (Flavorwire)

Texas Forever. A meditation on Tim Riggins–in the Paris Review! Love it. And this, because truthfully, we have all prayed the same prayer:

When I lie in bed at night and imagine white-bearded God making his earthly presence known at the foot of my futon, he asks, “And what is your deepest desire, young man?” I say, “Lord of all things, king of the universe, purveyor of rain, and pain, and occasional love, would you be so kind as to turn me into Tim Riggins?”  (The Paris Review)

A Critic’s Notebook: On Meeting Ayn Rand’s Editor at Antioch College. A funny and illuminating conversation with Ayn Rand’s editor. This exchange I particularly loved:

Do you want to know why Ayn Rand’s books sell so well? he [Rand’s editor] countered.

Well, yes.

Because she writes the best children’s literature in America, O’Connor said. The Fountainhead is practically a rite of passage for alienated youth. She writes these epic, Wagnerian things. Where the sex takes place on the very highest plane and it speaks to the kids’ highest aspirations, their youthful idealism. It’s all YA stuff.

In that case, I argued, people should grow out of her, like a phase, they should get over her ideas when they become adults.

This is America, he said. There aren’t many ideas. Ayn Rand had a few simple ones which she believed in fiercely and promoted relentlessly. (The Millions)

Happy, hot Monday!

Monday Snax

Nettles hard at work at the Tea Bazaar on Friday night.

It’s starting to feel like summer around here… We’re going to THE BEACH to celebrate our one-year anniversary (!) this weekend and I could not be more excited. We’ll be gone for a week and it is going to be glorious.

In the meantime, here are some Snax:

The Burning House. What would you grab if your house started burning down? Here, find the photographs of meticulously curated collections of objects that other people would save. Interesting and illuminating. (The Burning House)

John Lithgow Reads Newt Gingrich’s Press Release as it Was Meant to be Read. Politicians get more and more absurd every day. Thankfully, we have people like Stephen Colbert and John Lithgow to mock them. (Daily Intel)

Distinguish the Bears from the Penguins. We are forever indebted to you, Lil’ Wayne. (Snacks and Shit)

Musical Dogs. Black-and-white photographs of dogs and musicians! What’s not to love? (Wanderlusted)

Manul, the Oldest Living Species of Cat. I think that’s one of the craziest-looking animals I’ve ever seen. He looks so curmudgeonly, so irritated that he’s not extinct yet. (Pawesome)

Rejected Book Covers vs. the Finished Product. I love jacket design and art; I find this collection of original jacket proofs juxtaposed with the familiar covers we’ve seen on shelves so fascinating. Sometimes I liked the rejected ones better. (Flavorwire)

Cliff Diving. These photographs are so surreal; they almost look like paintings. (Max Wanger)

Dear It. What a nice thought about “it.” (THXTHXTHX)

Greece. I want to go to there. (Odette New York)

Anna Hanau: A Farmer. This young journalist is completing a cool project in which she interviews 100 interesting people. This week, she interviewed a happy, young chicken farmer in Brooklyn. (100 Interviews)

Feel Like a Kid: Reclaimed Wood Swings. Want. (Re-nest)

The Beauty of a Blooming Orchard. In the words of Fleet Foxes, “If I had an orchard, I’d work till I’m sore.” (La Porte Rouge)

Monday Snax

Family ladies
It's unreasonable that our grandmothers look better than we do.
Lucy and Loretta
Coolest grandmothers ever.

Coming back from Davidson is always so hard; I just want to stay forever. Mom said she’d write me a note to send to my employer: “Abby has a headache. She can’t come back to work for another week.” I wish! We had a beautiful, sunny, and happy weekend with the family, celebrating with the grandmothers and celebrating the end of Lent with an absurd amount of chocolate-raspberry cake and Peeps. Just as expected. More photos on Flickr.

That said, here are your snax with day-old Peeps:

Goin’ to the Chapel! DANIELLE AND LOGAN ARE FINALLY ENGAGED!! (Gallimaufry of a Girl)

Still Lagging: Women’s Earnings in America. Even though they’re not exactly new, these statistics always depress me. Particularly now that we have more female college graduates in the work force than male! What is going on, Patriarchy? Where is thy death? (Mint)

Night Pruning. Cate has such a beautiful home and baby and just look at her perfect appropriation of nature! I got to hang out in her verdant cottage with her baby on Wednesday night and it was lovely; hoping to do it again soon! (The Charlotte)

Hello, My Pretty. Grace used to make this face when she was doing something naughty, like zipping up the family rabbit in a purse or trying to snatch Sam out of his crib. (Awkward Family Photos)

Word Portraits by John Sokol. Now this is a cool idea: Portraits of authors using their own words. (Le Projet d’Amour)

What If Corporate Logos Were Honest? Imagining big companies displaying their true slogans. (Flavorwire)

J.P. Toad’s. That’s so disgusting. Who thinks of these things? Actually. I know some people in Carrboro who would probably try to sell this at the farmers’ market. (Regretsy)

A Lesson in Posing, Religious Observance Begs Sabbatical. The Man Repeller makes fun of the numerous poses that Cool Lady Bloggers adopt when modeling stuff from their own wardrobes. (The Man Repeller)

Bingley Takes a Bath. You know I’m not a cat person, but I love this. (Fat Cat Orange Studios)

A Birthday. This looks like the absolute perfect day. So peaceful! So elegant! (Sweet Fine Day)

Vladimir Nabokov’s Drawings of Butterflies. Yep, still fascinated with anything I can find about Nabokov and his butterflies. These are quite lovely. (Flavorwire)

Mikhail Gherman and Karen Walker at Home. Hipsters to the max, but they look like they’re having SO much fun at their house! And Karen Walker is amazing looking. (The Selby)

Animal nostalgia

Yesterday I probably spent a good two hours researching small animals I could be allowed to own in our apartment. I love animals. Guion thinks I want a pet because I’m dissatisfied with our marriage, but that is not the case at all. This is how this conversation went last night. Not kidding:

G: Am I not enough for you? Is our marriage so terrible that you must get a pet to lavish your affection on instead?
A: No, no, no, stop being stupid. That’s not it at all. You know very well that I love animals. I love them! Not being able to have an animal is like me telling you that… that… you’re not allowed to listen to music anymore!
G: What? No. Terrible comparison. You looked at animal pictures all day, and now you want one. It would be like me sitting on the Internet all day and then insisting on having a concubine.
A: A CONCUBINE. Really. That’s the BEST analogy you can come up with!?
G: No. But I need an argument.

Whatever.

So, this is the list I came up with (with links to the cutest ones on the Interwebs, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about):

Holland lop rabbit
Budgie
Zebra finch
Betta fish (This is actually our own Saul Bellow, with Grace imitating him)

Hm. The very interesting thing about this list is the fact that these are all animals I owned when I was a child.

We had a darling dwarf Holland lop named Spencer; to this day, the four of us still swear that he knew how to play hide-and-seek with us.

I had two beautiful budgerigars named Monet and Renoir (I was a pretentious 12-year-old), who drove me crazy even though I had begged for them for my birthday. I prayed one night that they would die, and a week later, off went Renoir. Monet stuck it out for a few more months, until he died of a broken heart, I surmised. I still feel guilty about this.

Kelsey got a Zebra finch named Sprite for some reason or another. He also died rather ceremoniously: apparently got all puffed up one day after we got back from church and we literally watched him keel right over. Sad. We were not the best at keeping birds alive.

And that brings us to the betta ownership. I had one named Napoleon for a while, and now we have Saul Bellow, the sole survivor of my unethical idea for a party decoration (fish in giant glass vases on the table! With names of important 2009 celebrities!). He has grown to be quite handsome and Mother swears that he recognizes her when she walks in. We let her pretend this.

As far as dogs and cats are concerned, I just want another Australian Shepherd, like our gorgeous, highly intelligent and highly neurotic Emma. And I’m not even remotely interested in a cat. Why? Probably because I never had one growing up. Unjust, I know. But true.

So we stand at cross purposes. Guion really doesn’t want an animal in the house; I feel the desperate need for one. A rabbit is my top choice, but Guion insists that they smell (which is only partially true). We also don’t have a pleasant yard for it to graze in. A budgie was my next choice. They are clever and companionable and they like to be scratched and carried around on your finger. But they are messy. And occasionally loud.

I guess we’ll just get a betta then. Ho hum. At least it’s something alive.

Anyone else feel this way? Do you own the same animals you did as a child? Do you wish you had the same pets you did growing up? Am I the only one who lives in this dangerous state of animal nostalgia?