God’s feline creation

Who is my neighbour? In my case it is my cat, Tasha. She arrived some 15 years ago along with her litter brother. He died 3 years ago (kidneys), and I recall him with affection whenever I pass his grave in the garden. Tasha continues to remind me that God gives us the ‘lower’ animals to love in their own way.

Tasha and I live in a three-story Victorian house so we are not over crowded. She rarely comes upstairs because she is tempted by the radiator half way up. I can’t recall her ever visiting my bedroom Right now she is behind me in my study (almost exact Covid distance) and fast asleep. She looks pretty fit – her coat in fine fettle. Later, she will review the garden to make sure that we have no other cat visitors. And she will enjoy the Shubunkin in their pool – they must be their fourth or fifth generation.

Of an evening she will spend her time with me in the drawing room. She is a discipline fad: I am required to stroke her quite actively: I have to extend my thumb nail so that she can clean her nose and mouth. Quite recently I find I am required to clean out deeply into her ears. Cleaning ears is quite difficult for cats on their own. Her timing is good, but she will wait for me to turn the television off before she goes for her supper in the kitchen.

She loves visitors. And she clearly prefers women. That’s lucky because most of my visitors are female. We don’t eat in the dining room – ten places are too many for the two of us. So she sits at the kitchen table where my late wife used to sit – she is optimistic.

I have a sense that many people see cats, however apparently domesticated, as more fundamentally wild than we see dogs. And the evidence of their genetic history appears to support this. Where a dog may be totally involved with, and obedient to, its owner, cats seem (to me) their own person, who simply choose human being as a source of food and safety. Do you find it so?

About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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12 Responses to God’s feline creation

  1. I find cats just as affectionate and loyal as a dog, in fact more so because they are actively choosing to stay with their human whereas dogs stay out of fear and dependency. A cat would never allow itself to become enslaved by a human the way a dog does. Cats are spiritual creatures and have healing energy which is why they are traditionally associated with witches. My cat is my constant companion and we are devoted to each other. I am grateful and blessed to have her in my life as you are with Tasha. Love to you both.

  2. milliganp says:

    Abbot Laurence, who taught scripture during my formation, once remarked “dogs have owners, cats have servants”. In my opinion dogs are more human inasmuch as they are more likely put up with the imperfections of their owners.

  3. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Where a dog may be totally involved with, and obedient to, its owner, cats seem (to me) their own person, who simply choose human being as a source of food and safety. Do you find it so? //

    Yes, I suppose so, tho I’ve really not had experience enough with either to think clearly about the matter. Every one is an individual.

    Some cats I’ve known:

    luda.net/cats

    luda.net/oar

  4. ignatius says:

    I’ve had both dogs and cats. I get on quite well with cats but wouldn’t much want one at home now. Me and cats are quite happy to rub shoulders etc but I actively miss having a dog. I like dogs because they are honest and pretty frank about their likes and dislikes; cats get snooty and I don’t like that. After all, Felix, if you are going to be snooty, why should I bother with all that smelly cat food business? I also find cats to be very predictable and, as such, a little dull to be around. Finally, you can’t take a cat for a walk.

  5. David Smith says:

    Quentin may make this disappear, but I’ll try, anyway.

    Dogs are like men and cats are like women.

    Cats are cold and fickle and dogs are warm and loyal.

    Cats are humans and dogs are angels.

  6. Ignatius says:

    Ha ha ha😀 Never met an angel dog…and cats are much more cunning than most people can manage….and that’s saying something!

  7. David Smith says:

    ignatius writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2020/11/05/gods-feline-creation/#comment-61663 ) :

    // Never met an angel dog //

    I suggest you look around. Don’t condescend or laugh or smile or pet or rough-house, just be there, hands off, and observe. There’s much to be said for the absence of a “higher” brain.

    Cats are beautiful, wonderfully so. And their intelligence is admirable, up to a point. They can love, I think, but I wonder if it doesn’t tend to be a more pragmatic love than a dog’s.

    As I write, my wife’s dog is barking at me. Yapping, really – short, sharp, insistent barks – a demand for attention. I grant you that’s not angelic. Perhaps it would be closer to “the truth” to say that dogs are angels in the making, or on probation. Born with the potential for perfection and an inclination towards it. Rather like humans in that way.

  8. ignatius says:

    David writes:
    //I suggest you look around. Don’t condescend or laugh or smile or pet or rough-house, just be there, hands off, and observe. There’s much to be said for the absence of a “higher” brain.//

    I’ve been trying to sell off my old “higher brain” for years now but no one seems to want it..Contemplation is good for toning the thing down as are the creative pastimes such as abstract painting. Cycling for a good distance keeps the higher brain sedated a bit as does long distance walking.. Dangerous things, higher brains.

    //Cats are beautiful, wonderfully so. And their intelligence is admirable, up to a point. They can love, I think, but I wonder if it doesn’t tend to be a more pragmatic love than a dog’s//

    Interesting. As I say, I’m on shoulder rubbing and purring terms with a few cats, but I think they are far too self obsessed to concern themselves over much with emotion and I’ve never felt loved by a cat. Tolerated and used maybe, but never loved.

    //Born with the potential for perfection and an inclination towards it. Rather like humans in that way.//

    Yep thats yer dog for you…I like dogs. In my job as an osteopath I treat animals now and then. I’ve never known cats to be remotely grateful to have their back pain relieved whereas dogs remember and are grateful.

  9. galerimo says:

    You paint a wonderful picture for us here, Quentin, when you share the delights of the peaceful and reflective life, in the quiet comforts of your family home. So generous as you share it with the company of your friends from the animal kingdom.

    I’m wondering about the interaction between Tasha and the Shubunkin – I know cats are fascinated by the quick darting and diving of fish. My guess is that Tasha spends many hours enthralled by them. Sounds like a very sociable cat indeed.

    Let me see if I can collude with Tasha now to get you to change your mind on a few things.

    I imagine, Tasha, you are not very impressed by your owner relegating you to the category of “lower” animals. We both know it is always better not to bite the hand that feeds us. But there does come a time when you will have to speak up.

    You obviously are well able to establish and maintain personal boundaries, protect your territory from intrusion and enjoy pondering the antics of all that goes on in the pond.

    Well done – you are already scoring highly in this hierarchy of life you have been placed in by your owner. And by now means at the lower end of it!

    – sounds like he may not be as learned as he is acclaimed to be – you and I will change all that!

    You know he is missing the point of your unique participation in God’s creation with your own level of consciousness, distinctive in so many ways. Sounds like you are too kind to paw it out – sorry, point it out to him.

    But don’t despair Tasha, I admire how well you have trained him to meet your needs on many levels – the fact you have even been ranked here among the scientific and theological topics of discussion by your owner is itself a great achievement.

    Hardly the attribute of anything even remotely describable as “lower” in nature.

    My suggestion, Tasha is that you continue with the remarkable and talented way you make you presence felt and perhaps apply a little more eye contact.

    Engage the gaze. I am sure it will help to arouse, in your owner, that sense of mystery and wonder shared by all God’s creatures.

    I am hoping, in this way, we may be able to cultivate in him a sense of interconnectedness rather than hierarchical levels when it comes to God’s creation

    Even at this distance I can tell by his impressions that you are a very engaging companion – fix the gaze now and again- the one that says “listen here, Brother, all that anthropocentrism might serve clever human polemics but the reality is we all belong together – not just since Covid – since God made us for each other and for Gods own self.”

    I hope your stand might give him paws for thought about that verse in Genesis that has plagued his Christian tradition with doctrines of dominance where it should have been all about stewardship.

    I have no doubt your closeness to God will win him over in the end. Just like it did for me when I lost my fear of cats one day when one, that sounds just like you, made their way into my heart.

    I even have a beautiful little wagtail that comes to my window these days to lure me out to the garden to feed from my hand and even hold the food cleverly to bring back to the young in their nest

    – so, I know from experience how “superior” you all are.

    Now let’s try and convince Quentin!

  10. John Nolan says:

    I suppose domestic cats provide companionship for those who for one reason or another can’t or won’t walk a dog. However, they wreak havoc on the wild bird population and are singularly useless in aiding man – when did you last read of a sheepcat or a guide cat?

    The Nazis regarded dogs as having the qualities which made them ideal ‘Aryan’ pets, whereas cats exhibited Jewish characteristics. The young Jewish writer Corinne Engber appears to agree; last year she wrote an article in Jewishboston.com entitled ‘Why All Cats Are Jewish’.

    Winston Churchill famously remarked that dogs look up to you, cats look down on you, but pigs treat you as an equal.

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