A predator like no other

With a weak and broken voice, that could be hardly heard, it camped outside my front door, demanding to enter.
It was skinny, hungry and… one eyed.
This stray kitten, ageing between two and three months, was truly desperate and in agony, on how to survive the cruel city’s environment…
I gave it a little food and a name! “One Eye Willy” after the pirate from the film “The Goonies”. But there was no way that I would allow it inside our house. We have discipline, regulations and above all cleanness. There was simply no place for a cat in all this, I was firm about this!
Yes, I was firm, but that was about to change… Soon, we were invaded, overruled and conquered, by this tinny creature. Confirming the title of this text “One Eye Willy” simply took over…
Above all things, when talking about cats, this is the best way to begin with. Cats are deeply misunderstood, but I think that somehow cats themselves wouldn’t have it any other way!

To solve some of these misunderstandings first we need a person who has ears to listen and not just to hear… Because once too often bringing up this issue ends before it even starts, with the familiar negative waving, like in “I don’t want to know, I hate cats, I’m a dog person…”
So, let’s pick it up from there… from a dog’s point of view!
Science has proven that if for some reason man would suddenly disappear from earth (like in a sci-fi movie!) it would have taken a few hundreds of years before all dogs, without any exception of race, would turn back in being a wolf, again!
So, we say “cats and dogs” but this phrase is fundamentally wrong, since cats could only be compared to the untamed wolf… Because, if you leave the kittens of any cat (no matter how “domesticated”) in the wild, then you better watch out. 
Do I have your attention now?!
The dog is the total subordinate creature and companion of man. He belongs to his master and he will die for him in an instant without hesitation. That is why the dog is far better than the cat, that will run away, will not listen to any command, and you can never ever trust it, some say.
And they are right… in being wrong, because in life some comparisons cannot be done.
You can never own a cat, the cat owns you! How can I say this? A cat “thinks” that you belong to her and not the other way round, it is that simple. If you want to “communicate” with a cat, the best way to do so, is to… respect her will to superiority. Of course no human likes that, because we think that this is our part, exclusively. With cats you have to learn to… give way, or buy a… dog.

Cats are non-religious, too. So, if you are into any form of religion, don’t try to proselytize it, it will not like it. I’m just kidding, but did you know that cats were viciously hunted and killed in the dark ages? They were considered satanic and evil, a Lucifer’s pet and were hunted down… Like science, it’s a miracle how they did manage to survive those times.
Only ancient religions (before christianity and monotheism) respected cats. That is why, beyond the famous sphinx, the ancient ruins of Egypt are full with representations of cats. It was a law of the Pharaohs to respect that creature and the punishment of hurting a cat was death.

For the last 34 million years felines where so successful in their task, nature decided not to change anything about their fundamental “design”. And that is a lot of years for a mammal. The only thing that did change was their size. In fact size of felines went back and forth from small to big, according to the game size offered at the time.
When you see a cat you must remember that this is actually a lion that comes in… compact size, nothing else. One could say that the only difference beyond size is that lions roar (very loud!) in order to “announce” their dominant territory, while a cat… purrs (very silently!) in order to plead satisfaction and affection!
And though scientists have a lot of Latin based names for felines, the off-the-record and un-official terms Lion-cat/Tiger-cat are not far from being pragmatic…

But why has the cat so many human enemies? This detest could be explained by how much we have in common with cats. More than you might suspect! And humans don’t always like what they see in the mirror. We always think that the dolphin or the ape is closest to man… but surprisingly it is the cat!
According to research (like by Joan C. Menninger-Stephan J. O’Brien, if you want to knock yourselves out) man has 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell while felines have 19. And also, to say this as simply as possible, in order to divert a feline’s genetic material into human it would take “one step” while the same attempt would take “one hundred steps” for mammals like mice or dogs… That close we are!      
Mark Twain once said that if we would “cross” a man with a cat, the man would be benefited while the cat would be lessened…

From a warrior’s point of view, cats are magnificently equipped to begin with. It’s been recorded that a cat once fell from a 46 stores building and only broke one tooth. This particular cat may have lost also one of its nine lives, that it is accustomed to be said that they have. Of course the feat of being able to fall from high places or always land on their feet, is a combination of nature’s gifts, on a marvelous flexibility and physical structure.
A cat’s senses could take several pages to analyze one by one, but I will direct this into one single observation, and have it done with. If you look at a cat that wanders around, it seldom, if ever, travels in a straight line. Its senses are so sharp and well attuned, that it is impossible for it to walk in a straight forward motion because it is usually… “self-distracted” (that might be the description) from her over-attentiveness.
Only when it hunts, can it dedicate itself to a straight line…
But what would be a cunning hunter without weapons?
Nature’s “idea” to arm felines with retractable blades… (sorry, I got carried away) retractable claws, is simply perfect! To look deeper into this, I will remind you that a cat of any size can play “war games” with a human or with a fellow animal just for the fun of it, and use its paws for attacking without ever scratching anyone! And at the next split second it can “activate” its claws into her famous swing-sweep that nobody would like to be in the path of.
Felines are natural hunters, by instinct they know how to pursue and catch their prey. But in order for a cat to complete its skills, training is involved. The mother of a cat takes it up to herself to train its young ones. It teaches them to ambush, trap and familiarizes them with the strategies of pack hunting. And odd as it might sound, no feline can actually kill. It is taught how to kill through training by its mother… So, if for some reason or another a cat misses that training, gifted as it might be, it will be doomed with starvation…

It was a sunny day and we where sitting in the living room with our balcony doors wide open, when suddenly we heard strange noises coming from outside. Next thing and before we could react, “One Eye Willy” was marching across the room with a huge bird in his mouth, that he just had killed. (Willy is a big strong male cat and he weights about 15 pounds and that bird was half his size).
He came straight towards me and put down the bird exactly at my feet, then sat back, in the characteristic cat posture, and looked intensively into my eye with his… one eye. Carefully, in a “what will happen next” moment, I took a look across the room only to meet dropped jaws. “One Eye Willy” our domesticated, totally indoor, sweet pussy cat, solid and unmovable as a rock kept starring at me, clearly demanding a reward for his feat. And I sat there half… proud, half “where is my cat manual of what to do next”.
For the record, the huge bird got a… decent burial and Willy got his reward.
Point is, despite the years since he came to us, he never forgot… his training.

We like to have pets in our houses for many reasons, but one advantage in the man-feline relationship is that cats are clean, since they constantly groom themselves. Although they can be very affectionate, they are also independent, not because they are “selfish” but because they seem to enjoy themselves in being alone. Solitude is not a problem for them…
Maybe that is why Catwoman could never marry Batman and “live happily ever after”. Can you imagine her as a… housewife?  Of course this kind of independence is always misunderstood by those who tend to mix their lives (instead of being together) since they lack the personality to stand on their own feet...                                

Every time when I am asked if I am a cat owner, in my mind automatically re-runs the phrase “who is the owner of whom?!” But still, I would prefer to have a “cat” (of any size) in my house, even if I had to force myself in it behind a chair and a whip…
I find that little distrust, between man and animal, a far more honest agreement, which keeps both parties attentive and alert. Blind obedience from/to any direction is desired only by the weak…  

Once, a long time ago in the past, man was just a good… snack for felines. And he still is, in some parts of the world or if you are not careful when wandering in the great outdoors.
But the beginning of the change came with the invention by man of the stick (that we are training in, in Aikido!) that soon became the deadly spear. Martial Arts are not only rooted on instinct self-defense and the Arts of war. They also go hand in hand with surviving skill and methods of controlling an environment. The use of weapons (like the spear) in order to survive, was an art that preceded war, which was invented much later in the human course. Instinctively man fears felines, since he “remembers” that it meant danger to be eaten by them.  
But by now, when the undisputed king of all animals, sees the red robe of the proud Masai in Africa, it turns away to avoid them. It has combined the tall stature and long spear of these people, with the certainty that it will meet its death, from a predator like no other!   

                                                                   “If cats could talk, they wouldn’t”
                                                                                                        Nan Porter

February 21, 2008