Dec 30, 2021
8 mins read
Yes. Yes it is. And this is why.
No-one really knows why cats purr.
Humans usually take it as a sign of contentment. This is, naturally, what they want you to think, but scientifically speaking we’re just not sure.
More importantly, its also not definitively known how they purr. While science and technology built the wheel, developed penicillin and put cute robots the size of four-wheel drives on Mars, not one single human can tell you how your cat makes that low, vibrational sound that can travel across a room with no apparent effort. Why don’t we know? Because they don’t want us to. But that’s not the only way your cat is deceiving you.
Cats wear a disguise.
If you want proof that your cat’s soft, fluffy coat and big eyes are nothing more than a costume, go look at a cat’s skeleton. Not your cat’s skeleton, that would be weird, and . . . terrible. No, I mean go to google images and you’ll see what I mean. A cat’s skeleton is a thing of constructive majesty, of breathtaking, malevolent beauty. Its light. Its lethal. It looks like you could drop it out of a plane and it would land on its feet like a dandelion. A cat’s skeleton makes a human skeleton look like a chimpanzee got drunk and stood up on its hind legs as a party trick one night, and stayed that way because it was too stupid to know when a joke’s gone too far. My point is, it looks nothing like your Sir Fluffybutts. And nothing honest disguises itself.
Why the masquerade? Its part of a cunning plan that has successfully fooled us for thousands of years.
We never domesticated cats, they infiltrated human society.
When hunter-gathers domesticated dogs they did it on purpose. This partnership evolved over time and branched out into varied roles, from herding to protection to companionship. These roles have persisted and expanded, with Canis lupus familiaris having a firm place in most cultures. But it was only when we developed agriculture that cats came into our lives.
Agriculture meant food storage, and that, of course, meant mice. Suddenly humans were on the cats’ radar. They sauntered in, got fat, and stayed. They did this by domesticating themselves in order to fit in.
Humans, being the gullible nitwits that we are, unwittingly took to the cat. It was small, graceful, and fastidiously clean. Like a Xenomorph that stops dripping acid everywhere and starts serving cocktails at your favourite beach bar, the cat exuded charm. So much so that in ancient Egypt they became revered as the physical embodiment of the gods, and if anyone killed a cat, even accidentally, they were sentenced to death.
But cats are no longer considered gods. Or are they?
Throughout human history cats have had to repeatedly adapt in order to keep themselves relevant. I grew up in the age of the Hang In There! kitty, a time when a cat calendar was considered a suitable Christmas gift for a teenage girl for some reason. But cats have always had a paw on our collective pulse, and something new was coming. Something that cats, with their uncanny ability to spot an opportunity, immediately pounced on.
And when it arrived the cats did something that was still an unknown concept to the very race that built the damn thing. They went viral.
Cats and human technology.
Have you ever noticed how much your cat loves your PC or laptop? You switch it on to begin your day’s work and within seconds its jumping up onto your desk like an unemployed writer jumps on an idea while lining up at the supermarket checkout. ‘She’s keeping me company while I work!’ you squeak, and make faces at it. But is that actually the case? Why is your cat is so eager to be around anything that connects it to the wider world that lays beyond the home you run yourself ragged to pay for but which your cat uses to sleep in for up to fifteen hours a day?
Because they’re smart, that’s why. Cats took over the internet, and doing so meant they needed to constantly monitor the waxing and waning of trends. So when the first successful campaign of lolcats and lolspeak began to grow stale, they immediately upped their game, and they did it by going for our emotional jugulars.
The rescue-cat con.
Is your cat a rescue cat? Were you out walking in the woods one day, picking wildflowers and skipping along sun speckled paths, only to hear a plaintive squeaking sound? Did a sad, bedraggled kitten lurch out of the foliage? Chances are, your brain turned to mush and you immediately scooped this creature up to your bosom to keep it warm with one hand while simultaneously recording this event with the other in a way that seems so second-nature now that we probably need to talk about it at some point.
If this wasn’t you, it was someone else. Someone you might watch online later today; a hapless, haggard-looking figure bragging about how they get up at night to feed aforementioned kitten and make sure its warm, thinking they’re happy and fulfilled because they’re doing something nice when in reality they’re just sleep-deprived. They can’t remember their former happy lives, so they adapt and succumb to the tiny overlord now freeloading in their home and attacking their small children. Videos are uploaded every day showing this scenario — previously carefree people being targeted by old cats, injured cats, mean cats and ugly cats. More to the point, these cats are worshiped online by strangers around the world, often in staggeringly high numbers. Even in their most heady days of Egypt cats couldn’t have hoped to reach such a status, though its true no-one’s been beheaded for harming a cat in what must be an annoyingly long time for them.
So not only are their needs cared for, the tradition of cat-worship continues. But unlike their formers days of sunning themselves in ancient streets and watching people being put to death for accidently running over one of their mates with a chariot, they no longer catch rats or mice or pretend to be doing anything for us. In fact, they’ve perfected the art of ignoring us.
Cats don’t respect you.
Are you aware that your cat knows its name? Research from Japan has shown that just like dogs, cats recognise the sound of their own moniker, even when its spoken by strangers. If you want to test this theory, go find your cat (its probably sleeping on that pillow you think is yours) and say its name. That tiny quivering of its ears? That’s your cat, snubbing you.
Try getting a dog to ignore you. They can’t. Dogs are pack animals and as such you’re always on their radar. But to a cat you’re the Giant Lumpy Thing with Arms they have to tolerate in order to have a roof over their heads, a couple of square meals a day and various comfy places to sleep. You are tolerated. For all we know, purring could just be a cat’s way of laughing at you. And probably the dog, as well.
So what can we do about these fame-obsessed, controlling, semi-abusive animals that form a parasitic bond with us that depletes our emotional and financial recourses?
Very little, as it turns out. Cats cover the world and, more significantly, they have a firm grasp on our emotions. Fighting back would be like going to war with cute aliens who arrive in a marshmallow-pink spaceship and build coffee houses on every corner where the coffee is not only fantastic but cost a single dollar and comes with a hug and a motherly lecture about dressing warm now that the weather’s turning. There’s just not enough in it for us to expend the effort.
In fact, for all my suspicions of Felis catus, I too have shared space with a cat, though I never intended to. I was living in a small, depressing flat and working a small, depressing job and then one day I had a cat. She stayed for over fifteen years and I never really worked out where she’d came from. But when she finally succumbed to age and disease, I decided I wasn’t going to keep another. I live in Australia, where cats decimate our unique and increasingly fragile native animals and birds, and not having a cat is a ethical choice. But always I’m wary, for I know that just around the corner may lurk an animal so psychopathic, so malicious in nature, that it can shapeshift itself into a purring ball of fluff with melty eyes and a baby-soft coat in order to capture me.
So all I can do is advise you, dear reader, to keep vigilant. And guard your heart. Like the Xenomorph in the loud shirt that’s handing you a Pina Colada and asking how your day’s been, its just a matter of time.