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Cat

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The poetry of reality
Science
Icon science.svg
Extraordinary claims with
extraordinary evidence
Hot from the
giants' shoulders
One cat just leads to another.
—Ernest Hemingway[1]

A cat is a cute domestic animal[2] Pussy01.gif (and often also serves as a general term for members of the family Felidae, wild or domesticated) whose description follows.

Cats![edit]

Above: a wildcat (Felis silvestris), not a domesticated cat. (Do not pet.)
Largely Offensive Weapon Of Claw
Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are Gods.
Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever[3]

A cat (Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus, depending on whom you ask) is a member of the Felidae, or feline, family of animals, readily identifiable by its adorableness and other affiliated quirks and charms. A cat is occasionally a vicious evil beast that will rake claws across one's face when it is being petted.[4] Other than that, the main contribution cats make to our lives is their ability to move with supernatural grace. Where a dog would run through a flower patch, stepping randomly on every flower on the way, felines are aware of where they place their feet at every step, their back foot going in the exact same spot as the front foot. A cat can jump 4 feet up onto a mantlepiece covered with fragile knicknacks, and not knock over a single one. Unless they want to. It should be noted that a cat apparently derives great pleasure from gently pushing things (the more fragile/breakable the better) off surfaces to the floor below and then maintaining a look of injured innocence.

Cats carry in their little heads a detailed mental map of every place they frequent, and are visibly startled when a new object appears - especially if it is another cat. This being a rather effective adaptation for a relatively small animal that must contend with some much larger predators, cats will often explore whatever additions or alterations they find to ensure their awareness of any and all gaps they may hide in, and whether or not such gaps can be used for ambush purposes.

Cats are an interesting quirk of evolution - at an early point in human history (roughly 12,000 years ago)[5] wildcatsWikipedia's W.svg (Felis silvestris) began to live near settled humans, and by their reliance on early human tribes, decided to let themselves be domesticated, and developed traits to aid in their newfound life.[6] As mentioned in the caption, the furry mammal in the top picture of the two in this section is a wildcat and not a domesticated cat (though they do have a similar appearance to domesticated cats), so petting it is not a good idea. Wildcats are close relatives of the domesticated cat and the latter is generally considered to be a subspecies of the former by biologists who do not consider the two to be separate species (biologists that do classify them as separate species refer to them as Felis catus; biologists who don't use Felis silvestris catus). It is believed cats were accepted by people after communities started to store surplus grain and other food products, which attracted the rodents that cats so skillfully hunt and kill, making cats useful to have around—especially since, being obligatory carnivores, the kitties wouldn't turn around and eat the grain themselves.

Ancient Egypt was thought to be the first civilization to domesticate cats, but that has been proven false. The Egyptian word for cat is "Mau," which sounds awfully like "meow." They worshipped Bastet, a cat-headed goddess.

In return for food, drink, excrement removal, bed, and universal health care, a cat gives back companionship and a daily lesson in how to move. Occasionally a cat will present its owner property with the corpse of an even smaller mammal or avian. Often this gift will be in installments - later portions being regurgitated, often on the furniture or person of the human cohabitee. A cat has the ability to look at anything or anyone with utmost disdain because of their conviction of total superiority. Cats can also see things that aren't there - they will suddenly stare at a point in space, causing their human companions to believe that there is a '"presence" in the area.

A human cannot decide that a cat will like a particular food; the more a person so believes, the more likely the cat is to spurn it — that is, unless it is tuna: cats will only eat food that they can smell, and fish foods definitely rank among the most odoriferous. A cat unfed for a certain period of time (currently estimated at seventeen minutes but subject to future testing) is in danger of expiring from starvation. This is evidenced by pityful "wowlings" at its human servitors and fixed staring at anything being eaten or drunk by them.

Cats are (usually) the natural enemies of all other smaller life forms and delight in torturing smaller beasts by killing them slowly. Examples include mice, rats, or, if the cat is exceptionally lucky, a long-eared jerboa. Pussy02.gif However, a cat may be able to suppress this instinct if raised with the animal, although there's no telling when it will attack other animals (for example, a cat who grew up with mice may be willing to slaughter hamsters). The mere fact that an animal is larger than any particular cat is no guarantee that it will be safe from attack. Humans can satisfy this instinct in a more environmentally-acceptable manner by casting balls of wool and small fluffy toys for them to play with. It should be noted however that a cat will prefer to play with a ball of wool which is in use rather than one which has been provided for the purpose.

Cats are the Inspection Officers of their households - no new item or being may be introduced to the cat's place of abode (it is their place of abode, not yours) without the Inspection Officer giving it the once over. If it is an object, it will need to be sat on—or in—to test it for suitability. If it is an item of comfort, such as a cushion, blanket or human being, the Inspection Officer must use it first to ascertain its cosiness. An empty box must be occupied and defended. All items leaving the household must also be inspected——for example, suitcases.[7] Even glasses cannot be spared.

If a cat sleeps on a human's bed, it will have preferred locations that are calculated to be the most inconvenient/painful for the other occupants. Prior to curling on the lower abdomen or immediately beneath the chin, the cat will stamp around with claws extended, with the potential of causing extreme damage to irreplaceable parts of their human servitors.

A primed cat trap, awaiting hand prey

Cats also enjoy setting a bear trap for their owners in the form of rolling onto their backs with a sweet look on their face while exposing their tummies, thus enticing human hands into the focal point of all four razor edged paws and teeth. Within a split second of initial hand-to-tummy contact, the trap is triggered, and the owner's hand becomes clamped into a barrage of scratching, biting, and strange back-legged cycle kicking. Despite the resultant injuries from such an attack, cat owners have been known to fall for this trap multiple times, some possibly enjoying it.

Cats are known enemies to things like "productivity", as this well-documented photo essay will attest to. Infant cats are called kittens, and are even deadlier than normal cats due to their even sharper claws and their ability to override all rational thought in nearby humans. But they are oh-so-cuu-uute!

People seem to be incapable of neutrality towards cats. They either love them or hate them. Dog lovers seem to hate cats the most, though there are rather a lot of oddballs who keep both types of pet in the same household successfully. Cats are able to sniff out those who are not enamoured and will preferentially approach, snuggle and rub against them. Persons allergic to cats are especially likely to be treated in this manner.

Genuine quick facts about cats[edit]

  • A cat can hear the pulling of a ringpull on a can of catfood at 50 metres.
  • The only non-fecal product of cats is the hairball, designed to bring the barefoot morning person rudely awake upon stepping in it. This can be avoided by combing the cat to get rid of hairs so they don't get clogged in the throat.
  • Cats generally don't have a good relationship with man's best friend, even though they both descended from Miacis. Although to be fair all animals share a common ancestor if you go back far enough. Still, the dog is one of the few animals that can get along spontaneously with cats, and the cat is one of the few animals that can get along spontaneously with dogs. Humans are another, and perhaps the only one for both, which says much about humans, dogs, and cats — three consummately brutal predators.
  • Despite all their disdain for dogs, the vast majority of their hate is reserved for the red dot.
  • Now iconic in popular culture, the domestic housecat is the source of various internet comedy memes.
  • The major difference between cats and their traditional foe, dogs: "dogs have owners, cats have staff."
  • In defiance of known laws of relativity and quantum physics, cats have a unique ability to be in two places at once. They were in the room you just left but are next to the food bowl in the kitchen before you arrive there.
  • Most cats react in a rather peculiar manner to the herb Nepeta cataria, more popularly known as "catnip". This plant, related to the mint family, seems to affect a majority of cats in a manner similar to how Cannabis sativa affects humans, except that unlike pot, catnip's effect on cats happens without requiring combustion or other heating of plant-matter. Simply crushing the plant is enough. Its effect is much shorter-lived than marijuana's, and it also doesn't seem to give felines the munchies.
  • Cats have a highly sophisticated matter replicator digestion system that can inexplicably poop out at least 2.5 times more matter than was ingested in the first place.
Cats are MAGIC.
  • Cats do occasionally attempt to communicate via computer: PawSense has been developed by those sufficiently warped not to submit to the superiority of the feline race.
  • Cats bury their waste, which is something humans started doing only after cats discovered humans.
  • Cats require a very high protein diet which can only be achieved by sacrificing the flesh of lesser creatures; feeding a cat a vegan diet is animal cruelty in a number of countries.
  • Cats are the favorite food of Melmacians, and cat juice is the their favorite drink. Being a cat-lover on Melmac is so horrible that it's the only thing worse than being born in wedlock (yes, you read that right)
  • A group of cats is called a "clowder". Unrelated, if through poor decision-making you find yourself in Boston, don't eat the clam chowder.
  • Cats are worshipped as the givers of life, and so the entrance to this world is known affectionately as a "kitty".
  • Possibly the famousest cat of the 20th century, Socks the White House Cat, died of cancer in February 2009 at the age of 19.[9]
  • Nearly as famous was Humphrey the Downing Street cat, who prominently feuded with Cherie Blair and a duck but was unjustly accused of robin-murder.[10]

Some cats[edit]

Purrrversity[edit]

Stray Cat
by Francis Witham
Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you homeless to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth, and food
For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
 
While he, with purr and velvet paw
Became within my house the law.
He scratched the furniture and shed
And claimed the middle of my bed.
 
He ruled in arrogance and pride
And broke my heart the day he died.
So if you really think, oh Cat,
I'd willingly relive all that
Because you come forlorn and thin
Well...don't just stand there...Come on in!
There Once Were Two Cats Of Kilkenny
Traditional
There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many;
 
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
 
Till excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails
 
Instead of two cats
There weren't any.
 
Cat
by J. R. R. Tolkien
The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.
The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps upon his meat
where woods loom in gloom —
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet
he does not forget.
The Naming of Cats
by T.S. Eliot
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

"If cats looked like frogs we'd realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That's what people remember." Terry Pratchett (Lords and Ladies)

"And though you are not sentient and do not comprehend, I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend." — Data (Star Trek: The Next Generation)[11]

"Cat? Cat! Cat! It's a cat!" — Dormouse (Alice in Wonderland)

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about cats.

Don't see also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]