Should I be concerned that my cat has to think for a very long time before doing anything at all?
I don’t mean when he’s hunting. When he’s hunting he’s razor-sharp with mighty fine reaction times to a point of movement.
No: my concern refers to the time a cat takes to decide to do something everyday, or mundane.
I think I have mentioned before that our family cat, Clive Bond, has spent long hours just sitting next to the cat flap staring at it. He would just sit there staring, and I would sit there watching him, because what goes in in a cat’s head at a time like that? What?
There are many possibilities.
One is that the cat is a great spiritual force in the fabric of the universe, striving with his mighty grasp of Yin and Yang, his tantric Tao, to balance the crazy antics of the humans which threaten the gauze-thin equilibrium of the globe. Like a swan, it is possible there is more deep thought going on in that cat’s head than in that of the Dalai Lama.
The second, less extreme option is the cat is conducting risk assessment worthy of the most bureaucratic town council in the land. He weighs up the pros and cons of going out into the big wide world. He thinks about the advantages: voles,birds, leaves, outside smells, adventure; and also the disadvantages: foxes, rain, puddles.
Somewhere in his brain a form is filled in, in triplicate.
The option I do not want necessarily to think about is that actually, there is almost nothing going on between those two handsome black ears.
And I’ll tell you a little incident which leads me to believe this may be the case.
Despite my best laid plans, time ran away with us yesterday, and we ended up having fish and chips for tea.
Phil and Felix came home from an evening football practice and sat, chomping fish happily. And as always, Phil saved a small juicy piece of cod for the cat.
This is a small tradition which has remained from the last feline regime. Our old cat, Kit Kat, accepted the offering as a divine right. Tonight Phil placed the small piece on newspaper dircectly on the arm of the sofa.
And Clive Bond looked at it for a very long time. Whether it was not part of the Tao, or the risk assessment was a particularly complicated one, he made no move towards it. Rather, he just sat and thought fish for a while.
But a while was not his to think.
For on the floor beneath the sofa sat a figurative shark with hidden talents and floppy ears.
Remember Pele and that banana kick? Even today it floors us, that incredible swerve to avoid all adversaries and hit the goal with effortless accuracy.
The dog has clearly been working on something similar. For months now, when no-one is looking, he has been practising his moves, perfecting his technique. And as the cat stared thoughtfully at the piece of cod in his sights, Macaulay sidled up to the side on the sofa and did a banana-leap, curving in from a vertical approach to snatch the cod neatly from the between the cat’s paws.
Did that just happen? The humans roaded, and chuckled, and compared notes.
But I would venture to say that the cat had not even properly registered the cod yet. He had been right in the middle of the inventory (cod, one piece, battered, 1cm x 1cm) when it was not there any more.
Clive contemplated the codless space.
Perhaps he was thinking of Sartre: “All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away…. ”
Or alternatively, perhaps there was not very much going on at all.