Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category
Ryan Jacobs writes in Pacific Standard:
Sociologists study humans: their institutions, social networks, organizations, and, often, their families. They concoct theories about the way all of those things function, map the associated variables, isolate for some, and control for others. But in society’s most basic unit, the family, there’s one crucial relationship that Nickie Charles, a sociology professor at the University of Warwick, suspects that the field is regularly overlooking.
In a new paper published earlier this month in the British journal Sociology, Charles argues that “the so-called species barrier” has long concealed the important kinship between humans and their pets. Her recent research suggests that it’s a bond that should have long ago figured into sociological analysis.
A recent survey in the U.S. revealed “that 91 per cent of pet ‘owners’ regard their pets as family members.” In Australia, Charles writes, 88 percent do. While some researchers may scoff at the notion that this type of relationship rises to any level of complexity, pet owners’ own recent qualitative descriptions also seem to offer compelling contradictory evidence.
This relationship, as Charles notes, isn’t new. It just hasn’t been probed in the way one would expect. Pet-keeping, as we conceive of it today, was first popularized in the 16th and 17th centuries, as urbanization shifted the human-animal relationship “from function to affect.” Charles writes: . . .
The guy in the video has written a book: Part of the Pride: My Life Among the Big Cats of Africa. The book even has a promotional video.
Megs and Molly engage in a fair number of staring contests, and they will occasionally play an active bout of whappity-whap. Mostly, though, each just keeps a watch for the other and, when possible, blocks entrance or egress, as Megs is prepared to do in this photo:
In the photo she’s looking at me, but just prior she was watching out the door, the lonely sentinel guarding the entrance.
No shave today. I’m still a little groggy, but good to be home. Molly (The Wife’s Maine Coon) suddenly sprouted a thick winter coat, presumably on September 21, the autumnal equinox.
Light blogging and probably some more attempts to nap.
Terrific shave today. Coate’s Sandalwood makes a terrific lather, and the Feather razor, holding a new Feather blade, left me BBS without any effort on my part: 3 passes to total smoothness. A splash of the TOBS Sandalwood, and we’re doing the weekend.
For Harry fans, Harry taking a nap in the top of his front-hall cat tree—a nest he can reach with a single mighty bound from the floor.
Thatt’s a big leap, as you see:
A very nice shave. RazoRock’s XXX shaving cream (reputedly Aqua di Parma shaving cream) made a great lather, and the iKon Slant left my face BBS in three passes. A good splash of TOBS Sandalwood, and I’m reading for the day.
As promised, photos of Harry, a Norwegian Forest Cat:
The above is relaxed. But Harry is always alert:
A true BBS resu;t, readily achieved. A beard wash with a liquid handsoap, then a fine lather of Palermo, from AlsShaving.com, worked up into a fine lather by the Simpson Case brush (aka Wee Scot 3).
Three passes using a new Gillette 7 O’Clock Super Platinum. So far, the entire 7 O’Clock family is good for me.
A splash of TOBS Sandalwood, and I’m ready for the day.
Harry is the house Maine Coon:
A terrific shave today. Strop Shoppe’s Teakwood was the first of her Special Edition soaps that I purchased, and I still love it. With the Plisson Chinese Grey brush, a gift from Paris from The Wife, I got an extremely good lather, and the ARC Weber was, as usual, wonderful. The previously used Astra Keramik Platinum blade did a fine job and now advances to the next shave.
A good splash of Aventus from Creed, and the weekend begins.
Let’s start with a photo of Megs at rest last night. Megs is not actually boss-eyed: if you look closely, you can see that her left eye is reflecting the flash and thus looks to be crossed. It’s not. She does have a touch of Sartre eyes (sounds better than Marty Feldman eyes), but she isn’t boss-eyed.
The blurb for the article reads: “Felines walk the line between familiar and strange. We stroke them and they purr, then in a trice they pounce.” That sounds a lot like Megs, except that she doesn’t wait so long as a trice to pounce—and she not only pounces, but whaps your foot. Rub, rub, purr, purr, whap-whap-whap.
David wood writes in Aeon:
Saturday was a small snake. Each morning for six days, Berzerker — half-Siamese, half-streetcat, with charcoal fur and a pure white undercoat — had deposited a new creature on the doormat. On this last day, the snake was as stiff as a twig; rigor mortis had already set in. I wondered if there was a mortuary under the porch, a cold slab on which the week’s offerings had been laid out. What were these ritualistic offerings all about? Gift, placation, or proof of lethal skill? Who knows. On the seventh day he rested.
When I look at any one of my three cats — when I stroke him, or talk to him, or push him off my yellow pad so I can write — I am dealing with a distinct individual: either Steely Dan Thoreau, or (Kat) Mandu, or Kali. Each cat is unique. All are ‘boys’, as it happens. All rescued from the streets, neutered and advertised as mousers, barn cats: ‘They will never let you touch them,’ I was told. Each cat is a singular being — a pulsing centre of the universe — with this colour eyes, this length and density of fur, this palate of preferences, habits and dispositions. Each with his own idiosyncrasies.
At first, they were truly untouchable, hissing and spitting. A few weeks later, after mutual outreaching, they were coiling around my neck, with heavy purring and nuzzling. They do indeed hang out in my barn — I live on a farm — and are always pleased to see me at their daily feed. Steely Dan, unlike the other two, will walk with me for miles. Just for the company, I suspect. Occasionally he will turn up at the house and demand to be let in. He is a favourite among my friends for his free dispensing of affection. But the rift between our worlds opens wide again when he shreds the faux leather sofa with his claws. When scolded, he is insouciant.
Since the Egyptians first let the wild Mau into their homes, cats and humans have co-evolved. We have, without doubt, been brutal — eliminating kittens of the wrong stripe, as well as couch-potato cats that gave the rats a pass, cats that could not be trained, and cats that refused our advances. My Steely Dan, steely eyed professional killer of birds and mice (and snakes, lizards, young rabbits, voles, and chipmunks), lap-lover, walking companion extraordinaire, is the product of trial by compatibility. This sounds like a recipe for compliance: domestication should have rooted out the otherness of the feline. But it did not.
The Egyptians domesticated Felis silvestris catus 10,000 years ago and valued its services in patrolling houses against snakes and rodents. But later they deified it, even mummifying cats for the journey into the afterlife. These days we don’t typically go that far — though cats and cat shelters are frequently the subjects of bequests. We remain fascinated both by our individual cats and cats as a species. They are a beloved topic for publishers, calendars and cartoons. Cats populate the internet: there are said to be 110,000 cat videos on YouTube. Lolcats tickle us at every turn. But isn’t there something profoundly unsettling about the whiskered cat lying on a laptop (or somesuch), speaking its bad English? Lolcats make us laugh, but the need to laugh intimates disquiet somewhere.
Perhaps because we selected cats for their internal contradictions — friendly to us, deadly to the snakes and rodents that threatened our homes — we shaped a creature that escapes our gaze, that doesn’t merely reflect some simple design goal. One way or another, we have licensed a being that displays its ‘otherness’ and flaunts its resistance to human interests. This is part of the common view of cats: we value their independence. From time to time they might want us, but they don’t need us. Dogs, by contrast, are said to be fawning and needy, always eager to please. Dogs confirm us; cats confound us. And in ways that delight us.
In welcoming one animal to police our domestic borders against other creatures that threatened our food or health, did we violate some boundary in our thinking? Such categories are ones we make and maintain without thinking about them as such. Even at this practical level, cats occupy a liminal space: we live with ‘pets’ that are really half-tamed predators.
From the human perspective, cats might literally patrol the home, but more profoundly they walk the line between the familiar and the strange. When we look at a cat, in some sense we do not know what we are looking at. The same can be said of many non-human creatures, but cats are exemplary. Unlike insects, fish, reptiles and birds, cats both keep their distance and actively engage with us. Books tell us that we domesticated the cat. But who is to say that cats did not colonise our rodent-infested dwellings on their own terms? One thinks of Rudyard Kipling’s story ‘The Cat That Walked by Himself’ (1902), which explains how Man domesticated all the wild animals except for one: ‘the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.’Michel de Montaigne, in An Apology for Raymond Sebond (1580),captured this uncertainty eloquently. ‘When I play with my cat,’ he mused, . . .
The title sounds somewhat as if the post should start, “Once upon a time…”
The horsehair+badger Vie-Long brush with the Reddit Snoo shown is my Wicked_Edge brush, and it does a fine job. It’s a noticeably denser knot than simple horsehair, and I immediately got an extremely good lather from Strop Shoppe’s Special Edition Barbershoppe shaving soap. I really do enjoy the Strop Shoppe’s formulas.
The Rotbart is an interesting razor. This one was an unexpected gift some years back from a friend. I got some nicking when I first used it, so I put it aside for a while. But now I use it with a much shallower angle than I had first tried, and it’s a wonderful razor. It’s true: you do have to learn a new razor, and most often that means (a) finding a brand of blade that works in the razor, and (b) learning the right angle for this razor. The typical problem is using a blade angle that is too steep for the razor’s head design, with the inevitable result: nicks.
With a shallow angle and Personna 74 tungsten-steel blade, I easily achieved BBS with no trace of a nick. A final rinse, dry, and a good splash of Paul Sebastian aftershave—and Megs is off to the vet for a pedicure. (She’s too much of handful for us—cf. this post of a few years back for another kitty of this sort.)