I have a cat.
Everyone who has owned a cat at some point knows that such thing as “having” a cat simply does not exist. It’s an oxymoron. Unlike happy and faithful dogs, cats have a completely different kind of presence. They merely coexist with humans who “just happen to” feed and pet them. So, if you ever lived with a cat, you might know that it is them that decide whether or not you are worth of their company.
I suppose this is why so many people aren’t too fond of cats. They can make one feel intimidated, even uneasy. We (humans), require dependence, we want to feel needed and missed. A cat can provide none of those feelings. Once they figure you out, they might come to you and curl up in your lap. Or in someone else’s lap, for this is not about you. You are not special at all. And this is not a bad thing - it is just a cat being a cat.
I have been living with mine, Lujza, for more than 6 years.
Many times when I sit in our kitchen, with windows wide open, I hear a passerby saying: “OMG, look at the cat. How beautiful! Oh, look at her, sooo cute!”, and I look at her, sitting like a sphinx in the window, pretending she has no idea that she’s being admired. What is she thinking about? Can she tell from the tone of the stranger’s voice that she has just been complimented?
There are situations when I wonder what it must be like, being her. For example, when she sits on the table in my bedroom, covered by the darkness at 5 am, slowly moving heavy steel scissors across the top of the table with her paw, observing me in my deep sleep, enjoying every single movement she makes, until she reaches the final moment of victory: the object falls on the floor with a bang, creating an extremely irritating sound. Standing still, she then stares at me with expectation. She knows perfectly what will follow. I start tossing in bed, waking up and uttering swear words.
One early morning of January 2015, she called a cab. Yes, the cat called a taxi from my cellphone. It was shortly after 6 am when I woke up hearing a strange noise…it was the sound of a dial tone, distant and near at the same time. Half-asleep I sat up on the bed, trying to identify the sound. After a while I noticed my cellphone lit up in darkness. The moment I grabbed it and looked at the screen I realized I was calling a taxi. Me? But how? I heard a woman’s voice on the other side, coming out of the tiny speaker and dissolving in the soft, blue darkness of a winter morning. “Hello. Is anybody’s there? Hello?” I kept quiet, my consciousness only slowly coming to life, trying to make sense of the situation. “Hello??” I almost heard myself say “Sorry! I guess it was my cat!”, when I realized maybe it wasn’t a good idea. I hung up.
Sometimes she fixes her gaze upon me. A blank and piercing stare. All of a sudden, I feel bare, believing she has the ability to get inside my head, seeing all mistakes I never knew I made, my guilty thoughts, or even my future. Sometimes I decide to fight back. I stare at her across the room, neither of us moving an inch. I hear the sound of a ticking clock. One minute. In the end it is not me who gives up - but that doesn’t mean I have won either. Bored, with the “I couldn’t care less” expression, she looks away.
I often contemplate her conception of reality. When she’s chasing a moving flicker of light on the wall - a reflection of my phone screen - with an absolute determination, bewildered by the immateriality of the light, yet never ceasing to give up. This is a moment of unease: what if we are the same? Human beings perplexed by what we believe the world is? Striving for happiness, love, understanding, adjusting to what we consider to be the real existence?
“That cat is lucky. Doesn’t have to do anything, just to live happily and be a cool cat. Not bad if your only purpose in life is simply just being yourself. I’m not jealous btw. But it’s a life that deserves some respect and astonishment when looked at from the opposite side.”, my friend Marcus wrote once.
This is it, being a cat.
In the end, who am I? Just someone who feeds her.