Cats are held
in high regard
Monday, June 24, 2013 4:07 AM
Never before had I seen so many cats.
The farm my dad owned and where I would feed calves during the summer didn't have very many cats. In fact, I have to think really hard in order to remember the cats I did see. They were always hiding from the dog that terrorized the yard. The dog was memorable, the cats weren't. The dog chased me a quarter mile away from the farm as I rode my bike home, the cats did not. The dog ruled as king, the cats were the peasants. How things have changed.
Much of the present culture around cats has been built through the Internet. Fascination surrounding these domesticated felines dates to the ancient Egyptians and possibly back even further. Today, we have lol cats, Nyan cat, keyboard cat and countless pictures of cats people just can't stop posting on social media sites.
Now, cats are king and though Internet fads fade fairly quickly, you can be sure the idolizing of cats will not. I blame Garfield for this. Through Jim Davis' cartoon strip, cats were portrayed as charming in a selfish sort of way, while dogs were just dumb. Contrast this contemporary view of cats with the Peanuts' perspective where dogs were the definition of awesome and cats were the bane of Snoopy's existence. Then CatDog was created and things just got weird.
Forget Internet culture, comic strips and Nickelodeon because I want to talk about my family's cat: Hobbes. All right, don't forget comic strips because I did name him after Hobbes the tiger from the Bill Watterson strip Calvin and Hobbes. He was orange and had a striped tail, so he was Hobbes.
When my parents and I moved down to Bluff Country in the summer of 2007, the property we moved to contained many cats. In fact, there were more cats in one place than I had ever seen before. Many were orange, a few were white, and there was one with thick, gray fur. I can't remember the specific number, but I believe there were around 10 cats. We left for the weekend and brought back more stuff for the house. Evidently, many of the cats didn't like us because only three remained when we returned.
My parents would not allow any cats in the house, but we made up for it with the food we gave them. None left after that.
The population of cats on the property fluctuated, but usually always returned to stasis at three cats. The litters of kittens never survived the winter or the distemper that the other cats had seemingly grown immune to. Only one survived to "cathood."
A year or so into our living here, we decided to name the cats. I named Hobbes and suddenly names starting with the letter H became a thing. Harriet and Hank were named and before our very eyes we had a cat family. Harriet, the mother, did most of the hunting with papa Hobbes going out for an occasional kill. The spoiled brat Hank lounged around and chased leaves as they were blown by the wind.
Through the years that followed, our family created many ridiculous stories to fit with what was happening with the cats. Some needed no embellishment, like the time Hobbes was chased up a tree by a rabbit. Actually, he was always getting chased up a tree.
Unknown stray cats that moved through the territory were always greeted with skepticism. Hobbes was a part of a gang of cats who played cards and drank hard liquor instead of watching out for their families. Sad, I know, but what else could he have been doing when he would leave for several days. But, Hobbes would always return for food and many hugs.
Harriet and Hank were tragically killed during the fall a couple years ago and suddenly Hobbes was the only cat we had left from the bumper crop we started with. He spent the years with us and I always enjoyed coming home from high school and college to see him. We never knew how old he was, but we could tell he was slowing down some.
Recently, we brought two new cats onto our property and I think it was enough for Hobbes. Maybe he sensed a changing of the guard, a push from the younger generation to leave. In any case, he started taking longer vacations from home and now we haven't seen him for over a month.
It is sad because Hobbes was the first sort-of pet I ever had. I didn't own him and that was important. Perhaps he will yet turn up someday, but if not, Hobbes was still a great cat.
Now, Homer and Holly better shape up.