Tag Archives: entertainment

All About Cats

Cat at the Computer

I’m using material from a recent article about cat behaviors in the Washington Post by John Bradshaw for this post. Bradshaw offered some explanations for the sometimes winsome and sometimes frustrating behaviors that puzzle even the most dedicated cat lovers. He noted that  “Cats are the world’s most popular pets, outnumbering dogs by as many as three to one.” He attributes cats’ popularity in part to their “convenience.” They don’t need walking; they can be alone for days with water and some dry food; they don’t chew the furnishings like dogs (although they have been known to “mark” their territory in ways which upsets their owners. Indeed, the rub for many cat “staffs” (dogs have owners; cats have staff)  is that they can be your best friend at one moment (feeding time) and then wouldn’t cross the street to say hello the next.

Cats formed a unique partnership with humans between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago when granaries used by the inventors of agriculture in the Middle East attracted mice. The wildcats recognized a free lunch when they saw it, and moved in. They were more like  urban foxes, “born to be wild” and solitary, but willing to be around people in an arrangement that benefited both parties.

Early farmers also appreciated cats for qualities we still prize: soft and furry, they also showed a wonderful intelligence and an entertaining playfulness, even if that was on their own terms.

Cats are natural distrustful of each other, but can live together peaceably if they must share a food source. Even feral cats divide up available food, growing to colonies of several hundred in close proximity. In such situations, they evolved cooperative behaviors such as grooming each other (which for their humans means petting) and the raised tail which means they are receptive to being approached.  They also communicate by meowing, which has such a range of expression that their staff can tell what they are “saying.” I know when my cat Nacho wants to play or eat, or if she does not appreciate my attempts to play with her. And sometimes she tears around the house vocalizing in a way that can only be described as barking. My vet said she is a “dog in a cat suit,” which might explain this behavior. Cats also purr, which can be a sign of distress, as well as of contentment that  most people take it for. Animal behaviorist theorize that purring essentially means, “Please come here and settle down beside me.”

There’s no doubt that cats occupy a unique place in our lives. We have always had at least a couple in our household for the past 40 years, and we’re hopelessly smitten by them. It would be hard to imagine a day without a tabby or dilute tortie or any of dozens of breeds sleeping in the sun, playing with string, stalking a dust bunny or running at the sound of a can opener. For my money, there’s nothing like a cat for companionship, entertainment, protection (Siamese are particularly good at this), and, yes, convenience. Through millennia they have capered and stalked beside us on the long road to the present, and I pray they will continue on our journey together.

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Six Thousand Years of Civilization Has Come to This, I Fear


RIDE ‘EM, COWB–uh, cowmonkey!

I’m thinking that civilization as we know it (more or less) dates back about six thousand years to the Mesopotamian region (and other places such as the Nile and Yellow River valleys). Farmers and hunters who gathered there were able to produce a surplus of food there which led to counting, writing, record-keeping, government, laws and, oh yes, taxes. But enough of the history lesson.

I was listening to all-news radio from the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center (read all about it at http://www.wtop.com/41/2020261/The-story-of-the-Glass-Enclosed-Nerve-Center-) and they announced, very seriously, that the Frederick Keys minor league baseball team in Frederick, Maryland, is going to feature a cowboy monkey rodeo show before the game this Saturday night. ( For a look at a cowboy monkey rodeo, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDZtH-_RDDU)

Now, I’m of a certain age, and have never heard of this sort of thing which in these parts are usually staged in conjunction with a county fair or anything else. I have heard of (and in some cases actually witnessed) tractor pulls, mud bogs, demolition derbies, racing pigs, diving mules, and other entertainment oddments I can’t think of right now (jello wrestling, anyone?) in conjunction with county fairs.

Turns out a cowboy monkey rodeo involves little monkeys dressed in little cowboy outfits riding little dogs herding (presumably) little sheep [I hope–probably not too many rams in the flock, and especially not Dodge Rams. (Sorry, simply couldn’t resist, although judging from the logos on some of the monkeys’ uniforms, they are sponsored by Dodge Ram. What do you know?)]

I would walk across the street to see this, but I wouldn’t pay a fair admission price (or even an unfair one. You know. Oh, the hits just keep on coming!).  I have to

wonder, though, what our six thousand year departed ancestors would think of such a thing. No doubt if a cowboy monkey rodeo came to town they would watch respectfully and then when it was over eat the monkeys, keep the dogs and raise the sheep for wool and meat. Now that’s civilization  (except for the part about eating the monkeys, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to the contrary). If this sort of thing appeals to you, by all means go see it. Just be early to get a good seat. They might run out of monkey.

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