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  • Dan Albert S. de Padua

What's With All The Cats?

I am a cat person.

I know you like dogs. Goofy, huggable, ultra-loyal dogs. Slobbering but intelligent. Sometimes stinky, always fun. Even when they’re sleeping, legs splayed out in all directions because they got tired from all the running around and can’t be bothered with such things as dignity. Dogs.

Our neighbor has a dog. A constantly barking dog. All day. All night. When I get up at 3:14 a.m., it’s barking. I imagine the boy who lives there asking, “What is it, Lassie? What is it? Are you trying to tell me something? Yes? Somebody needs our help?” and the dog keeps on yapping. “No? Nobody has fallen into the river and needs to be rescued? So, what then? Are you hungry? Again? No? You just want to be noisy for the sake of being noisy? Oh, ok.” And the dog just keeps on yapping.

I am a cat person.

Cats are regal. They sit quietly on top of cars and fence posts, perfectly posed for the camera, watching the world walk by, wondering why humans work so hard to lose weight. Or they will pad past you as you drink your morning coffee and not spare a moment to glance your way. I once asked a cat why it was taking her so long to get out of the way of my car, and she said, “We do not run.” Note the royal pronoun dripping with disdain. “We prowl, we stalk, we proceed. We do not run.” I decided not to honk my horn out of respect.

As de facto rulers of their domains, cats often seem aloof or preoccupied. They are constantly thinking about how to better serve their people. They are working out problems in their minds: how to get to the roof via the fence then the tree in order to get that bird that keeps swinging on the fiber optic line. They have work to do; and without a doubt, cats get the job done. I haven’t seen a mouse since the cat patrols began.

But that also means cats can never be our friends, nor will they deign to make friends for us. Tigers are not pets, and lions were not created to entertain us. House cats and street cats honor the traditions of their cousins. There are dog parks all over the world for dog and owner socializing. Ever heard of a cat park? Does one ever really own a cat? Thus, the life of a cat person can be lonely in more ways than one.

On the other hand, dogs will befriend and make alliances with just about anyone—liars, goons, and power-hungry posers. A dog will pledge best-friendship for life, but he won’t tell you it’s not for your life but for his which is seven times shorter than yours. In short, your dog will abandon you when he passes away. Cats, however, don’t die.

Dogs will steal your shoes just for the gnawing of it. A cat will never do that.

Invite a dog to debate a cat and the dog will jump around and bark and growl, but in the end he won’t engage. The cat will simply stand her ground.

Dogs will do anything to win approval. Fetch balls, wag tails, beg with puppy-dog eyes. Cats have principles.

Have you noticed that there seem to be more and more cats everywhere? Yesterday at Alabang Town Center as we ate our salmon wrapped in bacon at Nanbantei (not a paid partnership), a cat stood guard outside the glass door. I had never seen cats hanging around the mall before. It must be a New Normal thing. But that wasn’t what really caught my attention. To get back to our car after lunch, we decided to take the elevator to the second-floor parking. When the elevator doors slid open, a cat sauntered out. How did she press the floor button?

As I walk around our village, in my futile human effort to lose weight, I see a cat or two in practically every other driveway and garage. The other day I saw eighteen cats in front of one house, lazing on the street like a pride of lions on the South African veld. The scene made me wonder: what the hell is the collective noun for cats? The internet gave me a glaring of cats (I can see that), a litter of cats (kitty cats, maybe), and a clowder of cats (clowder??). Since it looks like any word will do, I propose a rally of cats.

Because many of these cats I’ve been seeing were wearing pink ribbons around their necks.




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