Friendly feline brought joy in a world full of craziness
By Dan Mullis
Our cat of 15 years recently died. Yes, I can hear the "so what, who cares" coming. I know a lot of the world has little if any regard for cats, but we choose to disagree with those folks. Not to get too sentimental, but she was a good part of our life and made life more fun. "What greater gift than the love of a cat" — Charles Dickens.
She and her littermate came from the county pound. With neutering, distemper and rabies shots, they were not cheap. You also have to sign a document stating you will treat them better than your children. With yearly shots, regular flea preventative pills, food and other needs, it has cost us to have them. When they stand at the door wanting out and you get out of your chair, go to open the door for them and they look at you and then turn away and go the opposite direction, you wonder why you ever got them. There is also the matter of the shredded cloth on the sofa and love seat; ah well, life goes on. Maybe age has helped my patience after all.
To show that we do not discriminate we also have a dog. A cross between a golden retriever and a yellow Lab, he weighs in at 85 pounds. A big, yellow, shedding, brown-eyed, worthless, lovable lump. He is powerful; the 15-pound cat was not intimidated and had nothing but disdain for him. The dog did not mess with her. It is all in the attitude of superiority. She could be a warm, cuddly, purring, friendly, cute kitty or she could be a standoffish, independent "leave me alone" cat, you never knew which was coming. Her male littermate is bigger and stronger, but he always knew who the leader and boss was. She took care of him like a mother would.
When asked why she loved cats and dogs so much, my wife said "they don't judge you and criticize you when you make mistakes. You can ignore them, misuse them, scold them, and they will still try to win your affection and approval. They can give you solace and comfort in times of need. Once they are yours they won't abandon you." I always said I would not spend a lot of money on a cat. She got sick and we did. What can I say? We all say things that we have to eat later on. No regrets, we spend a lot more on cable television and get a lot less out of it. Mark Twain said, "If humans could be crossed with cats, it would improve the human but deteriorate the cat."
So you say what does all that matter? Is it worth space in the newspaper? Probably not.
What are we reading about that is more important and newsworthy in our world? Well, there is the Mideast where people are killing each other and destroying their countries and we keep pumping money into it and sending our people to be killed and have accomplished what? Imaginary red lines, being lectured at by Russia?
How about Africa? Everyone is appalled about chemicals being used in Syria. How about the genocide that has been occurring in Africa for many years and the world has sort of ignored it? There has been no call to bomb any country or people there. What's the difference, could it be oil? Starvation, mutilation and disease are not easy ways to die either.
We can talk about Europe, a more modern world. There are just race riots and riots about the economy there. What to do with an economy going down the drain? More civilized dying.
How about us here in the land of freedom and opportunity? To borrow a line heard on a TV show, "we are still sort of freeish." For years we have asked our government to listen to the people. We didn't know it but they have been listening. Just in case we say something they don't like. Shades of Big Brother. Getting a job that pays enough to live on has become a challenge, but we are told to keep on trying because it is getting better. For who? Some of the banks that were too big to let fail are doing fine. The crime rate is down we are told, but murders in Chicago are plentiful. Seems an odd difference.
So, no, to talk about the death of one little black-and-white cat is not important and seems silly and a waste of time when there so many things going on. All she did was to bring some laughter, joy and comfort in a world full of craziness and sadness. One more quote, Albert Schweitzer said, "The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats."
I would add that if we were to "love your neighbor" as we were instructed to do, it would also help end the misery.
Dan Mullis is a retired instrument maker at the University of Illinois. He resides in Danville.