Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Felis Inutiles

There are moments in every cat owner’s life when you have to question precisely why that status should continue to apply to you.

I’m not really talking about the random barfing moments that make each day such an obstacle course, though I suppose I could be.  Mithra has taken to barfing on our bed these days, for reasons which are not entirely clear.  Fortunately for me she prefers to leave her gifts on Kim’s side, and at moments when I am either so far gone in exhaustion that I don’t even hear her or actually physically gone (in which case I definitely cannot hear her).  So I can overlook this. 

For now.

No, I’m talking about events that make me question the very purpose of owning a cat.

The cat was domesticated, I am told, because of its prowess in hunting vermin.  Ancient humans looked at this small predator and said to themselves, “Huh.  If I can keep one of those creatures in my home, it will eat all of the unwanted critters that currently eat my stuff.  This sounds like a good deal.”

And it is, when it works. 

Yet the useless lumps of felinity that populate my own home seem to have missed this message.  Mithra is a “catch and release” hunter, happy to bat mice and other small creatures around for a while but ultimately uninterested in any more permanent actions.  Midgie, on the other hand, is the sort of cat who makes you wonder how the species ever managed to evolve in the first place.  Surely there were not ancient cat food vendors out there in Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley supplying kitties with treats.  Or maybe there were, but at some point in history there must have been cats capable of hunting for their supper.

I do not own such cats.

This was brought home to me with especial force this morning, when I went to put on my shoes.

I stuck one foot into a shoe and things were unremarkable.  It was as if I had done this many times before with similar results.  In point of fact, it was exactly that situation.  So when I stuck the other foot into the other shoe and felt something soft and fuzzy, I thought to myself, “This does not seem to be the usual sensation.  I shall remove my foot and dump out whatever is blocking my progress, so I may investigate the causes of this unusual situation.”

Or words to that effect.  Bystanders may not have heard exactly those words, but that was the gist.

So I dumped out the shoe, heard a thump, and went to turn on the light to see what it was. 

It wasn’t there.

Now there are only two possibilities at that point.  Either I didn’t actually feel or hear anything – not very likely, given the multiple sensory pathways through which this knowledge has been acquired (see how I use my pedagogical jargon?  someone owes me a gold star) – or whatever it was had run away on its own power, which had certain implications.

And sure enough, there was the mouse, hiding in the corner.

Freeloading cats!  What good are you?  You are not protecting my home or the things in it from all of the unwanted critters that currently eat my stuff or sleep in my shoes!

I eventually trapped the mouse in a cup and tossed it out onto the lawn.  No doubt it has found its way back in by now, but so it goes. 

Maybe one of the cats will find it first this time.


Eric said...

Cats are extremely useful!

1) They help you get rid of that excess cat food you had lying around.

2) They give you something to do with that kitty litter you have.

3) They present you with many opportunities to appreciate the beauty and spectacle of the feline hindquarters.

4) They prevent you from suffering stress working at a computer.

5) Similarly, they keep you from reading uninteresting books.

6) They jump on your head at night, thereby preventing you from dying in your sleep at that particular moment.

7) They keep the carpet or hardwood floor from fading in that sunny spot directly in front of the window.

8) They keep you from taking stairs for granted, thereby promoting caution.

I'd like to run this list out to ten items, but I think it would be superfluous, as these eight items are more than sufficient to demonstrate the amazing utility and vitality of cats.

KimK said...

Following on Eric's excellent observations, I offer:
9) They reinforce gravity, keeping all freshly folded laundry from drifting away.
10) They ensure that the kitchen floor is mopped when you kick over their bowl of water.

David said...

Well, granted.

But notice that nowhere on any of these lists is there anything along the lines of "prevents vermin from napping in your shoes," which has recently become my gold standard of feline utility analysis.

TimBo said...

My cats have surpassed yours in the area of vermin non-control. They bring vermin from outside the house into the house. These vermin have never shown an inclination to enter the house, however after being battered to death by my cats they are easily convinced the the house is the place to be. Stepping on a dead squirrel in the middle of the night is probably not any more fun than having a live mouse in ones shoe.

David said...

At least they're dead vermin. I'd imagine cats importing live vermin would pretty much be the last word in feline uselessness.

Random Michelle K said...

My cats were almost fired last year for a incident when I was straightening the basement, bent down to pick up a cat toy, and the toy mouse ran away.

I screamed. I totally admit it.

Michael managed to de-mouse the house while the cats? Well, they're making sure we don't have that excess of cat food.

Now you'll have to excuse me, but His Furriness is demanding his nightly offering of Wet Food.

David said...

We've thought about cutting back on their food, but the sad fact is that the aggravation of having mice in the basement is nowhere near the aggravation of having hungry cats in your face at 5:30am. At least the mice let us sleep.