Cat proximity

Essays

As I was working at home today I noticed, again, that my big Maine Coon cat, Links, is one rockin’ cat – at least for me. The main reason is that he stays close, but is still his own being. I was down on the shared patio having Sunday brunch with friends and he soon followed and lay down about 10 feet away under a chair. I don’t usually see him at first, but eventually I’ll spy him. One of the guests said “Oh, that’s Caleb’s cat,” and I thought, well he’s not really “mine” in an ownership way, more of a partner or friend way, as in “This is my friend Links.” After eating I went up to my desk and in about five minutes he followed and lay down in the middle of the rug about 10 feet from me. At night Links will sometimes sleep on my bed, I’ll pat him for a bit, he’ll curl up and purrr and kick my hand and burrow his forehead into it (Cat for I like you). Then he’ll move down to the end of the bed and somehow deal with my kicking feet all night. He’s very dog like in this way, close, but not needy or scared. And sometimes he is out at night, all night, for a few days in a row. He’s got his own door, just like I do, and he uses it as he pleases. While I do talk sort of cutsy to him, it is very limited, usually a greeting like “He noodle brain (or stink butt, or fart head, or mostly lately, doodle) are you hungry?” But nothing like the shrill, disturbingly progeny heavy pet talk that you hear sometimes. And to be honest, that talk drives me nuts. It seems disrespectful to the animal to me, especially to their parents, the real parents. First of all, humans don’t have animal kids, although some humans have kids that act like animals at times. Second of all, unlike a kid, if I disappeared, Links has a pretty good chance of surviving without me, even happily. Sure, I agreed to feed him and care for him when I got him from the shelter. And since I live in a quiet patio, with a big abandoned yard next door, I let him run free. There are big real racoons, and vicious coyotes, and fast cars, all around though. But I respect Links ability to deal with these things in life. Kind of like people let me drive around on the highways, live in city with random crime and airborne viruses, and even be around unpredictable drugged up homeless folks without security forces at my side. So to me, Links and I, see, we’re partners in life, trading company for pets, shelter and food. Remember, cats are the only *voluntarily* domesticated animal we have ever had. The others will either run away, or form into packs, if left to run free 24/7 with no fences between them at all.

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