Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Necessary cat

One or more cats-in-residence seem to be a standard component of a well-tempered classical blog. I’m wary of this. Cat pictures can be the first salvo in a sustained cuteness offensive, soon escalating to emoticons*, bad puns, lapses into baby talk, photos of pets in kilts and fezzes, doctored videos of animals lip-synching great arias and other giggly icky bits.

Nevertheless, a cat looms over, and sometimes insistently nuzzles his way into, these proceedings, and I guess I shouldn’t conceal his existence. Julius, pictured above, is a 4-year-old, cross-eyed orange tabby, adopted from the Richmond SPCA.

He purrs in octaves, croons, chirps and otherwise makes noises that might qualify as musical. But he is indifferent to singing and the sounds of instruments other than "buzzy" ones – bassoon, harpsichord, crumhorn, zither – which inspire him to sit on or snuggle up to loudspeakers. His favorite sounds are mechanical and hissy: streetsweepers, skateboards on cement surfaces, room humidifiers.

He is not into electronics (other than playing with electrical cords, which is discouraged) and is oblivious to virtual reality. He is highly interactive, but olfactory and tactile about it. He hasn’t made your acquaintance until he’s sniffed you and pawed your shoes. Luckily for your shoes, and my furniture, he is declawed. You will not see him in that stereotypical cute-cat pose, curled up with a good book, because he likes to gnaw paper (also discouraged).

Like most domesticated cats, he’s convinced that humans exist to feed, water and amuse him. Anything that distracts humans from those tasks is a bad thing. Julius was not born to blog. This appearance is a rare cameo.

* The best our alphabet can offer in the way of a cat emoticon is a W with an umlaut. Microsoft Word does not seem to offer this character, so I have concocted it in Paint Shop Pro – a humble contribution to the cute-o-sphere.