I, who am no fancier of cats, by any means, was just about to write a blog about cats–interesting things I learned about cats from a 2-foot-tall coffee table book imaginatively entitled Cat Breeds. A book I never would have read but for the sheer seduction of its size. We’re talking life-size, full-color cats on every page with breed names like Norwegian Forest, Australian Mist, Cornish Rex.
(I wish cats prowled the forests of Norway and lurked in the mists of Australia, but they don’t–I’m not referring to wildcats. I wish regular cats did those things. What I mean is, I wish there were no domesticated cats, just feral cats that look and behave exactly like house cats. I wish that you could be out hiking in the Norwegian weald and suddenly a fluffy little kitty appears batting some lingonberry leaves around at the side of the trail. And your entire party is like “Did you see that? What the eff?” Because seeing cats is a rare and awe-inspiring event. This could only happen over several generations if all house cats were repatriated to the wild. That is precisely my wish and I think a very good plot for a science-fiction novel, or at least a subplot in a science-fiction novel about a totalitarian police state that dislikes cats.)
Anyway, I was at a friend’s house trying to read my own book on the Atlantic Ocean, a normal size book, with this frickin’ huge cat book in my peripheral vision. It made my book seem quaint, silly, pseudo-serious–which is ironic because if there was ever a subject that deserves to be super-sized at the printing press, it is the Atlantic Ocean. But instead we are given a monstrous book about kitty cats. I can only assume this is print media’s answer to the ever smaller, sleeker, more convenient world of digital literature. Persons sitting around a board room said, “Well then, let’s make books bigger, immovable, more unwieldy!” Oddly, it worked. I spent my afternoon reading gigantic hard copy on cats.
I learned many interesting things…how the Egyptians first domesticated wildcats to guard their grain supplies from mice…how the Prophet Mohammad once gave up his cloak during prayer so as not to disturb a cat that was napping on his hem, that my ambivalent/hostile feelings towards cats pretty much reflect those of all medieval Europe and the entire subcontinent of India.
But I can’t blog about cat lore. I can’t. I think only crazy people blog about cats. And besides, when I did a dry run of my fun cat facts on some friends they were not impressed. I told my friend Brian that cats can turn 180 degrees in mid-air and he was like…”Big deal, so can I.”
Then I told him that a cat’s forelimb is attached to the rest of its body only by muscle and he was all, “You mean it doesn’t have any tendons or ligaments or bones?”
I don’t know, Brian. I am just quoting the book verbatim. Thanks for making my fun facts so much less fun by demanding I explain them.
But that’s how Brian is. He’s a physicist. He owns a scanning electron microscope and enjoys being subjected to dental work.
So I decided not to blog about cats. Instead I am going to blog about some really hilarious things Victorians believed regarding: the Atlantic Ocean–more specifically the properties of very deep water.