For two and a half years I’ve managed to not wax eloquent regarding my love for my cat, Morgan le Fay (aka Mo). Tonight, though, I sit at my desk attempting to come up with a topic for this week’s post, mind blown by the business that is life–the girls return to school, our quarterly interview with the foster agency, my return to working out (go monkeytime!), next month’s upcoming book release…and the potential we’ll find out if we can adopt our girls (the decision got booted from August to February). As my head spins, Morgan sits in my lap, calm and warm, her head butting up against my stomach. And everything is right with the world.
I got Mo the third year I taught high school English. One of my students found a kitten in her garage and wanted a good home for her. TheScott and I already had a cat, an ornery, fluffy black one named Seas (Say-ahs), who loved Scott, tolerated me and attacked everyone else. (This hasn’t changed much, although by some miracle she’s decided she likes the girls). I had once joked with TheScott that we should get a fluffy white cat so when they fought or slept next to each other, they’d make a yin-yang symbol. When Tonya, my student, offered to bring a “fluffy, white, blue-eyed kitten” to school for me to meet, I couldn’t resist saying yes. The next day she brought in a cardboard box with a blue blanket, and out of it I lifted this tiny, white fuzzbomb. The kitten was so nervous she shook, but she didn’t run away from my touch. I held her against my chest to look at her. She put one paw on either side of my neck, looked me in the eye and mewed. I don’t need to tell you who went home with the cat.
Morgan behaved very catlike in selecting her home. (When she looked me in the eye, I sure felt picked!) You might have heard that felines are the world’s only self-domesticated animal. Ten thousand years ago in the Fertile Crescent, the ancestors of the housecat realized humans attracted rodents and had food scraps all over the place, so they moved themselves into our towns and then into our homes. They were the ones who picked us. A lot of people think this is why they are so independent, and I agree. Unlike dogs–descendents of prehistoric wolves that were forced into companionship to protect our property and help us hunt– cats were never bent to our will, and they still choose their level of investment in each relationship. In fact, the evidence now suggests that cats trained us to take care of them in return for nothing more than their presence (and the occasional mousing).
But the presence of a cat has numerous health benefits. Any cat owner knows that few things are as calming as stroking a purring cat. Studies have shown it actually lowers your blood pressure. And cats don’t just help with blood pressure. Cat owners are 40% less likely to have a heart attack and have lower triglyceride counts than non-cat owners. And cat ownership outperforms prescription medications on keeping cholesterol low.* No wonder they’re the most popular pet in the world.**
I don’t have a cat for any of these reasons, although they are nice to hear! Morgan and Seas both came into our lives as animals that needed homes, and I’m so grateful for both of them. But I admit, I am especially grateful for Mo. Every night she curls up against me as I read before bed. During the cold months, she crawls under the covers between TheScott and I to sleep, and her warm little purring body fills me with joy. I don’t really know what it means to have a familiar–Morgan certainly has nothing to do with my religious practices–but if the word means less about spells and more about an animal that is connected to your heart, then I have a familiar.
Who are your special pet-friends?
* Some of these statistics, such as blood pressure, apply to both cat and dog owners. But many– such as lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attacks as well as decreased cholesterol–only apply to cat owners. This is as of yet a “correlation is not necessarily causation” statistic. It could be that for some reason people already less likely to have cardiovascular trouble are also more likely to own cats. But the statistical differences between cat and non-cat owners are not small, so I personally find it hard to believe there’s not some connection between the two!
** Dogs are the second most popular pet in the world with, according to a 2006 study, 171 million dogs as pets around the world and 202 million cats. In America, which pet is more popular depends on how you look at statistics. There are more households that own dogs than cats (43.3 million households vs. 36.1 million) but there are more pet cats than pet dogs (74 million cats vs. 70 million dogs).
As TheScott has pointed out, first cats took over our households, then they took over the internet. Next… WORLD DOMINATION! Although, I pose the question…if cats already control our houses and the internet…doesn’t this mean they already have take over the world?
GG has also posted from the perspective of her lovely feline Gozer!