11. Do We Understand Cats? / Temple Grandin / Animals Make Us Human

As is my usual daily custom, I sit down with Clyde and Snowball to talk.  Usually it’s late afternoon just before their scheduled late afternoon nap time.  I say scheduled meaning they schedule their naptime.  One does not want a cat with sharp protractible claws walking around who is feeling a bit cranky because he did not get his regular nap.  I will remind you that Clyde has a Fifth Degree Black Belt in Iron Claw – that means he’s really, really effective.  He can topple a water buffalo with just one swipe!

Clyde’s mother, HRH Alexandria Regina, is often with us for these talks.  Only the inner household calls her Lexie, so don’t let word of this get out.  She is an old, wise, mama cat, the only queen in the house.  We love and respect her.  Her mother was a feral.  HRH Alexandria Regina is a feral.  She was born and raised outside and she had two litters outside.  The dramatic change for us took place when she came into our home to have her third and last litter under a tall family room chair.  Yes, it was actually Mothers Day 2009.  It is a singular story.

That heartwarming story, as told here, is a true and faithful account.  For simplicity sake, we will call our old, wise, mama cat, Lexie.  She would not mind those beyond the inner household calling her that just during this account.  Lexie was born of a feral mother and that feral mother raised her.  Lexie herself gave birth to two feral litters outdoors.  Some of you would ask “How can that be?”  Well, there was a time when TNR was an unknown term to us.  Yup – just plain ignorance.  My first sighting of a feral was Snowball during the early winter of 2006.  For his account, see the first story, “How It All Began” which was posted on 21 Jan 2011.

Nancy, on the other hand, had worked with and nurtured ferals when she was age 5.  She knew the truth of Temple Grandin’s observation “Dogs serve people, but people serve cats.”  She also learned first hand “People rescue their lives, but cats rescue our hearts.”  None of you reading this can deny either statement.

Prior to Lexie’s first litter, Nancy used to let her into the house to eat, drink, and rest.  When Lexie was pregnant with her first litter, she seemed to appreciate being allowed in even more.  It got to the place where she would come to the back step and wait even though food and water were there.  Again, I remind you that she was feral – she couldn’t be touched or held and we couldn’t violate that trust.   The same was true with her second litter although she was less skittish.  She gave birth to both those litters outside and raised them outside.

Now, back to where I originally started.  Of course, Clyde’s sisters, Hunter and Hope are there.  This particular time, Clyde mentioned a book he has just finished.  He refers to Animals Make Us Human, which was written by Temple Grandin.  He tells me it was on the New York Times bestseller list.  Temple is a woman with high functioning autism.  You may have thought you understood cats, but wait until you read her Chapter 3 entitled “CATS.”  Did you expect a complex title?  I did, but then I began reading.  No wonder Clyde was impressed.

I hope that you have seen the HBO special about her life entitled “Temple Grandin.”  The HBO debut was 06 February 2010.  We don’t receive HBO, so we initially ordered it from Netflix.  The DVD was later given to me as a Christmas gift by our granddaughter, Mia.  You may recall that she is the one who bestowed upon Snowball his name.  All of us bestowed upon him our affections.

Clyde, once again, groomed his paw, and passed his favorite catnip mouse over to his sister, Hope.  He cleared his throat and placed his right paw on his mother’s arm.  Clyde, you may recall, is the baby of that litter since he was the last born of the three.  I’m proud to say that he has become the scholar of the family and is well respected by all the other cats in this indoor colony.  He also maintains contact with several feral colonies in the neighborhood as well.

Clyde’s favorite quote from Grandin is

“Dogs serve people, but people serve cats.”

I am not sure why that is his favorite; he just purred when I asked him.  There is a certain direct simplicity with Clyde and I do appreciate it.  The others just rolled around on the floor like they were high on catnip!  Now then, Temple Grandin is absolutely correct.  Now I don’t usually wear my white shirt and black bowtie when feeding our cats.  However, I do so occasionally to remind myself of my place in the scheme of things and to humor the cats; remember, “People serve cats.”  Now if you don’t know that, you probably don’t have a cat, and, you probably wouldn’t like cats.  As I had mentioned in a previous account, most men are clueless when it comes to serving others.  When I’m in a gathering of men, I’m often asked “What do you do?”  What a dumb question.  I have been tempted to say “I serve cats,” but I usually restrain myself.  Clyde reminds us that every life deserves nine cats!  I believe everything Clyde tells me and he has never steered me wrong. Kitty kisses, head butts, and a few love bites to all!

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