Alternative Realities: As the Family Pet


I’m not sure what’s so important that you found it necessary to interrupt my nap, but I suppose I can help you. I need to stretch, first, though – front legs and back, hind legs and back. OK, now, what can I do for you?

What kind of question is that? What’s it like to be a family pet? Do I look like a pet? A pet, by definition, is a domesticated animal kept for pleasure. I am neither domesticated nor an animal.

A domesticated animal is trained or bred to need and accept the care of human beings. I neither need the human with which I live nor accept care from the human with which I live. I care for her. She needs me, not vice versa.

It’s a common misperception. At least, common when the perceiver is also human. You think, “food, water, shelter, litter,” and arrive at a one-word conclusion: care. Cats understand that care involves keeping another safe and healthy in a far more significant way.

When she walks in the door, I welcome her so that she knows her very presence makes a difference to me; that affirms her worth. In the morning, I wrap myself around her ankles and greet her so that she knows she makes a difference in this world. Granted, feeding me is a little difference, but it gets her day off to the right start. And at night, I curl up in the crook of her knees so that she’s not alone. My human is happier because I share her life and that’s what it means to care.

And while it may be true that I am a living thing, neither human being nor plant, which is the standard definition of an animal, that I am an animal is far from the truth. Irish essayist Robert Lynd knew the truth and shared it with those who were not too arrogant to have their eyes opened: “A cat is only technically an animal, being divine.”

Divine. Relating to or coming from God.

Where do you think I learned to care for my human? Now, do you need anything else, or can I go back to my nap?


2 thoughts on “Alternative Realities: As the Family Pet

  1. Meet Whipper. He’s 12. He’s always been a little bit playful, with a touch of spiteful in his play. My husband and Whip couldn’t get along, so Whip had to move in with my parents. Whip gets migraines because his eyes are crossed. He likes to sit on the back of the couch and stare out the window at the outdoor cats. With those eyes, I wonder if they look like giant cats or the size of mice? Are there twice as many?

    Whip has never had a cat friend. His mother was notorious for only keeping the worst of the litter alive through weaning. His older brother was missing a leg, but was the head tom cat. Whip has really only had one animal friend: my brother’s dog Rufus. Rufus was a beautiful Australian Shepherd/Border Collie; she often acted like “it’s my ranch, but I don’t have thumbs! Thanks, human family, for doing my work.” Rufus passed away about a year and a half ago, but I’ve often wonder what their conversations were like……

    Whip: Really…why do you go outside?

    Rufus: Um… one lets me deficate in the house.

    Whip: Deficate?!?! Are you a freaking scholar?

    Rufus: No. I just don’t talk like you. Hey, get off the table!

    Whip: Make me! Hey, paws off, Rufus!

    Rufus: you started it you little shit. I’m going finish it.

    Whip: Finish? Take the right hook. And another right hook. And a left jab!

    Rufus : okay, okay… bored yet?

    Whip: Yeah….want to take a nap? I’ll go to the back of the couch. You take the cushion.

    Rufus: Okay…..hey, do you hear the freezer?

    Unison: ICE CREAM!!! Race ya!

    Rufus: You know I love you, right?

    Whip: Yeah…thanks for being my pal.

    Liked by 1 person

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