Wednesday 12 January 2011
Questioning The Cat
My interest in the human spheres of politics and culture certainly cause some amusement among my fellow cats - but it's also a cause of bemusement on their part. My feline friends don't understand me; they're more interested in cat activities. As long as they've got a warm hearth to sprawl in front of, fish to eat and the usual sports of hunting, a capella singing, copulation and territorial jostling, they're as happy as Larry.
This narrowness of outlook provokes not a little measure of irritation on my part, I must confess: it's so shortsighted. One question I'm frequently asked is, "What's so interesting about this human political stuff? Why should you - a mere cat - bother with things which are of no concern to us?" My answer is always the same: Simples. If it's of concern to our human hosts/owners, then it must be of concern to us. After all, whatever happens to Caedmon is going to have a direct effect on me as well.
I know my place; I'm not number one in Caedmon's list of priorities, and I don't expect to be. He's a herdsman, a poet and a lay theologian, so he has plenty of other things to occupy and preoccupy him. He doesn't always remember to put fish out for me if he's had a hard day and is worn out. When that happens I forage for myself. As a cat, I'm a friendly companion who sometimes happens to be home when he returns from a day's work, and who enjoys a symbiotic relationship with a human being - like any other domestic moggy. An incidental in the one act play called Caedmon.
Another reason why I find the human realm so fascinating is because it's hilariously funny. The amount of posturing, theatre and bull-business is an endless source of entertainment. And since I'm a cat, I can stare intently and silently observe. I consider myself to be a shrewd judge of human character - and unlike many humans, I know when somebody is lying through their teeth. I can smell it and see it reflected in their gestures and detect it in their vocal expression.
What about other pets? Do they show any interest? As for dogs - well, I despair. They're so besotted with their owners and the scraps they're thrown that they don't give these human things a moment's consideration. I don't believe any of them are intelligent enough to appreciate that their lives are impacted by whatever befalls their masters. I can't get anything sensible out of the wretched creatures beyond their obligatory barks and growls; I like to play mind games with them and feign fear. Sometimes a sharp hiss and a strategically aimed cuff on the nose with claws extended is necessary to keep them in place.
Feaxede the fox on the other hand is always very interested in what I have to tell him. His view is that if the tides of human history turn so that Streonaeshalch is left as a smoking heap of ruins, he has to re-evaluate his lifestyle options. He's carved out a cosy niche for himself, raiding chicken runs and foraging rubbish dumps, so has developed a dependency on human habitations. He also happens to be a shrewd operator; I've seen him on his foraging missions, and he has calculated his escape strategies to a degree of perfection that defies belief. I once saw him extract himself from a nobleman's house - complete with a warm loaf of bread - with the householder in hot pursuit with a bow and arrow. Not one crumb was lost, and his cubs and vixen feasted well that day.
He asked me the other day, "What you would do if the Vikings came in force and destroyed the settlement?" I told him that we cats aren't as dependent as his dog cousins. We can slip back into our primeval way of life without a second thought. The diet wouldn't be as varied, though. Mice and birds get boring after a bit - and I can't catch sea fish to save my life. I'd certainly miss the comfortable fireside and Caedmon's kindness. And the theology, of course.
But if the Vikings came with their Eddas and their long beards, the entertainment would continue..