Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cat Imagination

I've come to the conclusion that not only do I have a runaway imagination, but so do my cats.

When I was a little girl, my family always had cats running around in the yard and the woods behind the house, mostly strays my mother took pity on. And of course they had babies. I often heard a mother cat coming back from a hunting trip and calling her kittens, so I know the sound. My cat Tegan lived for twenty years. She never had babies, but almost every night she would pick up one of her toys, carry it around in her mouth and make that mother cat noise. Some of my family said she was pretending the toy was her kitten. I always thought she was pretending it was some fearsome creature she had killed, and that she was calling her pretend babies to come see what she had brought them. Either way, the cat version of playing with dolls.

My current cat, Wendy, is just plain goofy. I've seen her suddenly glance at the ceiling and jump away, as though startled. Then she creeps back, staring upward the whole time. When I go to investigate, I find that all the commotion is about two tiny spots on the ceiling. Is she pretending they're tarantulas?

Wendy frequently gets excited over nothing. She can watch a ceiling fan for an hour, with her little head rotating the whole time. I've tried playing with her with bubbles and laser pointers--things normal cats do with their owners. But she becomes so hysterical that when the bubbles pop or the laser light disappears, she's beside herself. She cries, she searches, she paces. It's too upsetting for both of us.

Lately, she's gotten into shadow puppets. I never put pictures back on my bedroom wall after we painted, and for awhile I tried to figure out why she was sitting on the bed and staring at the blank wall. Then I realized that when I sit in bed and read, the shadows on that big expanse of wall are amazing. I started making shadow puppets for her. She's enthralled. She could watch for hours, although she eventually gets too intense about that, too. Sort of like the laser pointer. Sort of like me with a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

I wonder what's in her little mind while she's watching. But I figure her life is pretty boring, since she's a pampered house cat. Her meals are provided, she has a cushy bed and a warm house. I guess all of us need a little escapism, huh?