Since my brother has gone off to New Orleans to enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities and does not trust his roommates to take care of his cat, my family has been catsitting for the last couple days. Not being someone who has ever really owned pets or been around them for quite some time, it is quite entertaining to hear the sounds of meowing at my door, the jingles of a collar, or the pitter-patter made when Buffy (the name of the cat) wants to climb all over the boxes of books in my room or use my backpack for a scratching post.
Animals are quite amusing. As with so many other things, I am fascinated by watching animals and trying to understand them. What do their faces and sound mean? What are they trying to communicate with their noises, the flicking of their tales, their lazing about facing east or south exposure windows? It’s hard to say exactly, but they truly do have odd personalities that are quite fascinating.
Unlike some people (perhaps most people), I greatly enjoy pets but feel most comfortable with them at a distance. Some of my friends who are cat people enjoy the sound of a cat meowing while being held close, or the way a cat can sleep on your shoulder. I haven’t really seen that myself–most of the cats I have known have been somewhat standoffish, and not really the affectionate types. Then again, I’m not sure whether cats and other animals often mirror the emotional states of the human families they live in, which might help explain their lack of cuddliness in my family.
At any rate, our attitudes towards animals tell us a lot about ourselves. The Israelites, for example, were not all that affectionate towards dogs, reflecting an attitude about the animal that I saw myself when I visited Ghana, seeing unwanted and scrawny mutts in the marketplaces scrounging around for food, unloved and uncared for. Since dogs are often considered man’s best friends here, that attitude was a bit of a shock to see. Lest we think the people of the Bible were in general hostile to animals, though, we find plenty of stories of the love and concern shown for lambs and sheep, which are cuddly animals as well. Even in my own family there is a fairly long history of concern and care for animals, including feral cats, stray dogs , cattle, and horses, and even red-tailed hawks.
At any rate, until my brother comes back to pick up his cat we will continue to enjoy Buffy’s humorous antics. There is something amusing and intriguing about seeing the behavior of a cat who only likes to eat in the company of others (actually, that’s not too far from my own preferred eating habits) and who enjoys drinking water from a metal container. I suspect there is a lot more to animals than meets the eye, but it is enjoyable to spend time with them, at any rate.
 As a toddler I adopted a stray Brittany spaniel whom I called “Tagger” because he followed me around everywhere. He was a very clever animal who enjoyed hunting groundhogs using excellent strategies and was also quite friendly to people, though a ferocious fighter when attacked. Intriguingly enough, I seemed to have a feeling of guilt about adopting Tagger, though, as family members of mine have recorded that I misquoted Psalm 1 as a child to say: “Blessed and happy is the man who does never walk a stray.” I suppose I have always been deeply concerned with sin and wrongdoing, though.
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