"I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside the girl you love, of course." - Mark Twain
"In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this." - Terry Pratchett
"A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime." - Mark Twain
"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer
"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." - Mark Twain
"Those who'll play with cats must expect to be scratched." - Miguel de Cervantes
My occasional snarky comments to the contrary, I suppose cats do have usefulness. Here are the top five reasons I believe so:
5. Endless source of cute kitty pics
Don't believe me? Why, then, you must not frequent Facebook. I'm not sure how I could bear to allow an entire day to pass if not for the occasional cute kitty picture, often accompanied by a cute caption like "I shall eat your entrails, human" or some such.
But seriously, cats do have an incredible propensity for striking the cutest of poses at just the right moment. Granted, they're probably only doing so to lure young ones closer to their claws, but hey, on Facebook they're cute.
4. Wonderful source of wise quotations
Just look at the top of this screen for proof. That, or Google "quotations about cats." I barely scratched the surface in my own quote regurgitations; the available sources for cat quotes scratch far, far deeper than I ever could.
3. Training humans to be responsible
the world have been taught the importance of responsibility for years by
putting them in the care of cats. I've seen junior high girls who
wouldn't stoop to washing a dish leap to the ongoing task of keeping
kitty's dish clean and filled at the right time with the right stuff.
daughter, to use a more specific example, made it through high school
in the typical way. By that, I mean that if she had to write more than a
paragraph it was a chore. Now she's looking at going to visit friends
for a week or two, and she's written an entire page of cat care
An entire page.
in the instructions are how much to feed her little furry baby, as well
as a request that we continue her pattern of playing with the little
kitty regularly, once in the morning and once at night. Of course, the morning
playtime usually, according to the instructions, happens between noon
and one. Gotta love teenagers, right?
2. Keeping puppies honest for 9500 years
always heard that ancient Egypt, a few thousand years ago, was the
birthplace of cat domestication, an assumption that is apparently based
on the artwork showing humans placing the felines in their rightful
place (being worshipped, specifically) from way back then in that region. I just read, though, that in
2004 they excavated a 9500-year-old grave in Cypress that had a human
and a cat quite close together, apparently signifying a human-cat
relationship that far back.
When I first read of the
find, I wondered if it couldn't just be proof of a cat eating a human
and then dying of indigestion, or vice versa. But it turns out that the remains appear
to be deliberately interred together, and frankly, a cat person going
extra lengths to be buried with his beloved feline doesn't sound all
that out of normal to me.
So yeah, now when my
Chihuahuas are made to toe the line by our daughter's cat, I can't help
but remind them that they belong to a long, long line of cat rule.
1. Keeping physicists happy
When Schroedinger was designing his thought experiment that would turn the world of theoretical physics on its ears, did he pick a dog to go in his imaginary box of maybe-killing? A turtle? A parakeet? A gecko? No, he chose a cat, and for good reason, too. You see, he knew--he must've known--that he was introducing a hidden quantum mechanical choice into the equation, and it would have pleased him.
To wit: in the explicit thought experiment, the experimenter presses a button which has a perfect fifty percent chance of either soundlessly killing the cat, or likewise soundlessly letting the cat live. The fifty percent is called an Eigenvalue, named for the German writer of anti-cat poetry, Hermann Eigen. Anyway, after pressing the button, the experimenter has to just live with the fact that the cat is neither, and both, alive and/nor dead, existing simultaneously in two Eigenstates ("live" and "dead") until the experimenter bravely opens the box to face either a now very angry feline or his very angry spouse, the now dead feline's servant.
Neither Eigenstate is very Eigenpretty. But it's a thought experiment, which means that the significant other doesn't really exist, nor does the actual feline, which because of this limitation can't actually claw the experimenter.
But here's the trick! While this is a mere thought experiment, it's done by very real thought experimentalists, who are in turn going to be in a set of Eigenstates of emotion: joyful that the cat lived, grieved that the cat died, grieved that the cat lived, or joyful that the cat died. After pressing the button, then, the observer finds an experimenter existing simultaneously in not one, not two, but four Eigenstates!
Yeah, that's a stretch, I guess. But what about the six story rule? You know, the rule that physicists will give you, the one that says cats dropped from more than six stories in height have a greater chance of surviving the fall than those dropped from significant distance but fewer than six stories. It's a terminal velocity thing, you see, related to the fact that cats achieve terminal velocity, and thus stop accelerating, and thus relax because they can no longer feel acceleration effects, at about six stories of drop.
Nobody I know has ever tried the six story thing, of course. It's--well, it's kind of a thought experiment.
See what I mean, though?
PS--No, Eigen-anything wasn't really named after any particular German; I made that up. It's actually taken from the German term signifying self. And no, there's no proof that Schroedinger ever considered the effect his thought experiment would have an an actual observer--why would he? He was a theoretical physicist. Imagine Sheldon Cooper of the hit TV series, with a little bit less compassion.