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?