24 February 2014

Cats



I just saw "Inside Llewn Davis," which I thought was a good movie, although not a comedy as it was described. The film is set in 1961 and follows the events through a week or so of a talented-but- self-destructive folk singer. By far my favorite character was the cat, who was given the meaningful name of Ulysses at the very end of the movie. Ulysses, carried about in subway stations and on trains, was an unflappable survivor. A cat.



I'm a dog lover with the capacity to also love cats. These two species are very different from one another, but it's easy to embrace both. Having grown up on a farm with animals all around, it isn't hard to love all kinds of creatures, cats and dogs alike. What would a barn be, without kittens playing in the hay? How does anyone go on a walk without at least one dog tagging along?  I don't know.



I do know we're glad that we kept two of the foster kittens from the summer of 2012, and Eddy & Reuben are both glad as well. It makes one big ol' sloppy family.

My fabulous niece gave me Mary Oliver's recent book Dog Song, in which one of my favorite poems is "For I Will Consider My Dog Percy," styled after Christopher Smart's 18th century poem about his cat Jeoffrey.

Some day I'll share Mary Oliver's poem, but first here is the text from Christopher Smart's poem.

 "For I will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey" from Jubilate Agno.


For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his fore paws to see if they are clean.


For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore paws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.




For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself upon a post.



For ninethly he looks up for his instructions.



 For tenthly he goes in quest of food.



 For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.



For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.



For when his day is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch at night against the adversary.


For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.




For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.


Tiger at the Oregon Zoo in Portland
 For he is of the tribe of Tiger.

The love of dogs and cats and other animals is a special pleasure that I sincerely wish all people could get a chance to experience without allergies, aversions, or anxiety.  And if you do not love cats, I do hope you liked Christopher Smart's poem.

26 comments:

  1. Great matching of poem and photo. If I was not allergic to cats, I would also enjoy their company. For now we will continue to plan, someday, on getting a dog.

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    1. Well of course I LOVE hearing someone say they are about to get a dog. You'll have a whole new subject to photograph. :-)

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  2. A beautiful post and great pictures. As someone who should be a cat person, who has tried to be a cat person, but simply does not have that gene, the poem seems to be written by someone from another planet.

    I get wild cats - am terrified of them but they are magnificent. It's domestic cats I don't get. What are they doing with us? So weird. Even weirder is the cat owner subculture of submission to the cat. I have sincerely tried to understand why it's ok, or at least funny, to serve a housecat. To me: bizarre.

    I do love some of the videos.

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    1. In some ways I suppose I have raised dog-like cats, who come to the door when I arrive home, who are ecstatic about being fed a bit of kibble, and who share their affection freely and often. Like the dogs, they are not allowed anywhere near the bedroom at night, and will be punished if they try to counter-surf. What I love about them is their physical grace, their ability to relax, and the special joy of a soft animal purring in my lap as I read a book.

      I don't especially appreciate the thousands of internet memes focusing on the superiority of cats over people and other animals. I've read that cat owners have a tendency to be over-active on the web b/c that's the place they can congregate: they don't have dog parks to go to every day to obsess with other dog owners about canines...interesting!

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  3. i love cats. i wish i could have some, but with my 4 country dogs, they don't differentiate between cats and varmints and i can't take the risk. yours are so sweet...

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    1. Yeah, I wouldn't want to go any where near Run Around Ranch if I were a kitty! No ma'am.

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  4. Cats take to me. One evening I was over at the boat house sitting in the back listening. There was a feral kitten about who eventually came over and let me pick it up. Don, who was giving his presentation, who lived there at the boathouse, looked up and saw the kitten in my lap and was dumbstruck, interrupted himself to remark on it. Everyone turned in my direction and of course, the attention made the kitten leap away and run off. Don told me not even he, who saw the thing every day and tried to coax it, had not been able to touch it.

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    1. Remarkable. I wonder what it is? I've noticed that some cats are attracted to quiet, independent people, a warm lap where there are no strings attached & no expectations.

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    1. Laoch, I know you are an old hand at having feline companionship, and it is one of the endearing attractions of your blog.

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  6. 'For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
    For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.'

    Shawn and I went to have Chinese food yesterday and I saw the jade 'dogs' I'd dreamt of before moving to Washington. Well, when I ask the proprietor about their symbolism, she lets me know they're not dogs but lions--and that they are guardians of peace, health and safety.

    Of the tribe of lions, too.

    This was a lovely post, Kerry.

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    1. The jade lions you speak of-- I can picture them-- we saw them in China. What an amazing thing to come into your dreams as you stepped off into the abyss of such a move. A powerful, auspicious symbol. Wow.

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    2. Thanks so much for that, Kerry. Reading your words my scalp is tingling.

      (I love that picture of you with your dogs.)

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  7. The tribe of the Tiger and the tribe of the Wolf both reflected in the pictures. Both noble.

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    1. What a beautiful comment, GA. It sends me into some kind of reverie; such tribes are not to be trifled with.

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  8. Adorable, simply adorable.
    I love dogs (first) and cats (second), but I am equally happy to have both around.
    Your dogs are such laid back creatures to let the kittens clamber over them with their sharp claws.

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    1. I think that is my order of things too: first, dogs. The dogs have been remarkably good with these interloping felines; it helped to raise the kittens in the house, right under their noses.

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  9. I loved the poem and I loved the pictures! Cats, for being such individualistic lone creatures, are all so funny in the same ways sometimes...I love my kitty!
    I think when we move I might also get a little puppy, I really want a dog, too. I'm hoping I can... :)

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    1. Oooh you're moving? That's exciting. I must catch up with you. Been absent from the internet for awhile.

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  10. I adore cats.. and cats wouldn't have it any other way than to be adored. Your felines are so lovely. Your fine photos of them work so beautiful with the poem. I hear what you say about wishing all could experience the love of animals. I can't help but feel badly for someone who doesn't care too much for creatures.

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    1. People who don't like animals are missing out on a whole big universe, although I guess they want no part of that. Empathy with other creatures is a foreign idea to them.

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  11. Ah! Lovely. I grew up with a houseful of dogs and cats, who got along in manner of siblings. They were either cuddling or fighting, and always kept us entertained. Unfortunately my spouse is very allergic to cats so we're a dog-only family now. I miss kittehs.

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    1. Stephanie, for some time we were cat-less, but it feels right to have taken on these two amusing creatures. I'm so glad nobody is allergic to them around here.

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  12. I like both cats and dogs, cats probably better, but it may depend on the specific cat or dog.

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    1. It's true that individual animals' personalities either make it or break it. Some years back we had an unpleasant cat & I doubted that there would be another feline in our lives. Just goes to show how wrong I can be. :)

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