Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here's To Pip

I’m a cat lover. I have been since I was a kid. Now, at 54, I think I probably enjoy their company even more than I did as a youngster. I like animals period. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. I feed the squirrels who hang around in my back yard, and always make sure there’s a little left for the birds to get their share as well. But cats are my favorite. Here's my two.

There’s just something about their style. I appreciate their independence and their finicky eating habits. I like the fact that my cat is smart enough to jump up on my desk and stare at me for a treat, and if that doesn’t do the trick, he’ll jump up on my shoulders and stretch out across them; but he ain’t rollin’ over for nobody! I like that they enjoy my company but aren’t breathlessly begging for attention with tongue hanging out, drool slopping down, and tail viciously slapping back and forth. They would rather just follow me in to the next room (usually about 2 minutes after I move), then casually curl up in a comfy position not far from my hand, in case I feel like reaching out to them. And I really enjoy the expression, when talking about trying to get a group of atheists to do anything, that it is “like herding cats”. Yeah! Cats. You gotta love ‘em. Unless you have one of those cat allergy things going on, in which case I fully forgive you if you don’t see this my way.

So you might be wondering, “who is this Pip”?, and you might be guessing that he’s one of my cats. He’s not. Pip was a wonderful pet and friend – to our friend The Exterminator and his wife. Pip passed away this week and my thoughts go out to the Exterminators. Here’s what The Exterminator had to say about their cat:

“The cat's name was Pip, after the Dickens character in Great Expectations. We began feeding her when she was still a small feral kitten hanging with her mother in our backyard. We thought she was a male, both because of her aggressive behavior (see the stereotype there?) and because neither one of us had ever known a female whose coat was such a bright shade of orange. Hence the name. The kitten had great expectations, indeed, because she used to scratch at our back door trying to get in the house. For some reason, she didn't want to be free to roam in the wild; she wanted to be where the food came from. It wasn't long before she did get invited in for good, which is when we discovered that the anticipated male parts were missing. But both my wife and I really liked the name Pip, and we imagined that the kitten seemed to respond to it."
Like Exterminator, both of our cats are adopted. I encourage anyone who can, to give a cat a good home. If you are going to do it, may I also recommend getting an adult cat from your local animal shelter? Cats in shelters are going to be euthanized after a fairly short time if no one steps up to give them a home. Adults are the hardest for Animal Control officers to place. It’s understandable that someone is usually looking for a kitten. After all, there are few things in life as adorable as a kitten. But the fact is, they are only kittens for a very short time anyway. With a kitten, you never know what their adult personality is going to be like. Adopting an adult doesn't have to mean it has to be old. Even an 8 month old cat is already too old for most people looking for a "kitten". You can play with the cats available at the shelter and see if you and it are a good fit. When you take it home, it will already know how to use a cat box. And you are probably saving it from a death sentence.
Here are 4 of about 40 adult cats currently available at our local shelter. The chances are very great that one or more of these will be euthanized soon.


ordinarygirl said...

Ex, I'm so sorry about Pips.

It's hard to lose a pet. They are often as much a part of the family as anyone else human.

I had two cats when my husband and I met. He has pretty severe allergies to cats. He understands that they're my babies and he would have never have asked me to give them up. And we've adapted. And because he's not heartless he came to love them too.

But I did make a compromise by promising I wouldn't get another cat after the two passed on. One had to be put to sleep almost two years ago. It was really rough because I had him from when he was born. My other cat is 12 and I don't know what I'll do when he's gone too. I have never not had a cat.

My cat came from a shelter and I adopted him because he only had three legs. I figured no one would want a three-legged cat. He's neurotic, but loving in his odd way. When people tell me that animals can't love humans and we're just anthropomorphizing them, I don't believe it. Especially if you believe in evolution, why should animals not be able to love as much as we can?

John Evo said...

OG - good for you, adopting a 3 legged cat! THAT'S the spirit I'm talking about!

"Especially if you believe in evolution, why should animals not be able to love as much as we can?"

Uh, uh, uh... we don't "believe" in evolution - we accept evolution as an explanatory force for how all life came to be as it is. As to your POINT, I can see why they wouldn't be able to "love" the same way we do... but I don't see why they can not love on some level.

There is lots of wonderful research on animals, showing how our own traits could have evolved from less sophisticated traits - but fundamentally similar ones. It all starts with altruism, and altruism goes way back. I recommend a short video (available from Netflix or Blockbuster) entitled "Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees".

ordinarygirl said...

OK, you got me. I don't mean "believe in," it's just another hard habit to break. :) I really mean, "we don't delude ourselves by denying it's not true." How's that?

John Evo said...

That's fine! And please check this out!

The Exterminator said...

Well, I must say that Mrs. Exterminator and I are both extremely touched by this e-memorial to Pip. You're really quite a rascal, getting me to write you an email about the origin of her name.

Like you, I've had both cats and dogs in my life, and I agree that there's something really appealing about a cat's style. You may know the following joke, but I'm going to tell it anyway because it's particularly appropriate in the Atheosphere.

Here's the difference between dogs and cats. A dog says, "Hey, that person takes care of me, gives me treats, provides a nice house, and shows me love. He must be god." A cat says, "Hey, that person takes care of me, gives me treats, provides a nice house, and shows me love. I must be god."

I join you in urging those thinking about inviting a cat or dog into their home to visit their local animal shelter. Every cat that ever deigned to live with me has come from the street or a shelter. Most shelters will give your new cat the inoculations it needs, free. Some shelters will even present you with a discount coupon to give your vet for necessary "alterations."

Sarge said...

Yeah, cats have STYLE and that's pretty neat, admirable.

I played at an outdoor wedding/renewal of vows out in the country back in July, and we were in mid 19th century costume, the women wearing hoop skirts.

During the ceremony, a cat came up, sat down to watch the cermony for a couple of minutes, and then sauntered up to the matron-of-honor, and walked under her dress and started to watch the proceedings from that vantage. She tried to shoo it away, and (it was pretty big) it responded by simply laying down on her feet and would not be budged. Everyone was snickering and the wedding party really wondered what was up.

The cermony ended and the cat decided to leave, it left the matron of honor and made its unhurried way to the bride whose dress it walked under as well, and it continued on its business in an unhurried saunter without looking back.

Everyone actually applauded the cat, it was deserved.

The Exterminator said...

Sorry, but I published by accident before getting a chance to respond to OG.

Thanks for your condolences. They're meaningful.

I really admire you for taking in an animal with only three legs. And those people who doubt that animals can love just haven't read any of the latest literature -- and they've probably never had a pet, either.

Now, I'm going to make a prediction about your husband, because, I, too am somewhat allergic to cats. I don't think you're going to be put in a position of ever not having a cat. My bet is that, when the time comes -- hopefully rather far into the future -- your husband will be the one who brings home a new pet. He'll claim it's for you, because you're feeling bad, and he can't stand to see you moping around, and he loves you so much that he decided to make a small sacrifice, blah blah -- but it'll really be for him.

John Evo said...

Ex - "He'll claim it's for you, because you're feeling bad, and he can't stand to see you moping around, and he loves you so much that he decided to make a small sacrifice, blah blah -- but it'll really be for him."

You old softy! Sounds like a man speaking from personal experience.

Sarge... yep. That's just they way they can be. And another cat will get himself as comfortably far away from the whole ceremony as possible.

My cats will climb into anything. You leave open the towel drawer for a while, close it, open it a few hours later, and there is "Fatty" curled up in the back on top of some towels, only mildly annoyed - that you went and opened the damn drawer!

When "Shadow" sees an empty bag or box anywhere in the house, he's in it. The only time he wants to sleep on our bed is if it's unmade and he can get on the sheet in the place I was laying.

Anonymous said...

This is from "BIlly (A Liberal Disabled Vet)" but I can't get my google account to work.

I have four cats. I have also had dogs. I prefer cats.

What I cannot figure out is how I can be upstairs with four cats sleeping near me. I go downstairs. They do not pass me on the stairs. We do not have an elevator. Yet when I get down stairs, the same four cats are sleeping down stairs. How do they do this? Are they merely three-dimension representations of hyper-dimensional beings? (Salute to Doug Adams, there).

Enjoy your cats.

Anonymous said...

From Billy again.

And you have my sympathy.

John Evo said...

Billy said: "Are they merely three-dimension representations of hyper-dimensional beings?"

Pinker, doing a thought experiment on word meanings in our brains, poses the following:

"But suppose scientists made an amazing discovery: cats are really daleks, the mutated descendants of the Kaled people of the planet Skaro, a ruthless race bent on universal conquest and domination, who travel around in mechanical casings cleverly disguised as animals. Would we say that there is no such thing as a cat, since the definition of cat specifies a furry animal?"

When you go back upstairs, bow down to your daleks.

Or, if you go with Pinker’s answer to his thought experiment – you will still bow to your “cats”, although you will have a new perception of their essence. Maybe not all that different?

As to your google ID, I've been having problems too. I always have to enter my password at least twice, even when I'm certain that I did it correctly (like right now).

The Exterminator said...

I'll weigh in briefly on the Google ID thing to say that it happens to me, too. Even at my own damn blog!

DaVinci said...

I’m very sorry to hear about Pip, Exterminator.

I too am a cat lover, and slightly allergic. My wife and I have three cats two of which she had when we married, the other I got for fixing a garbage disposal for PetLand. One of my cats is a black and white like yours. I think cats are just permanently stoned, they’re buzzed out of their mind, and that’s what makes them cool cats man.
When you have more than one cat, you can really see their social hierarchy in action. Dakota is the king around here. All the other cats call him Godfather. He mainly just hisses, but on rare occasions, when pushed a little he can nip. He seems to think that my presence in the house is unwarranted and has voiced his concern a time or two, but these days he seem content to wait until I die. The other cats will not get too close to me because of him, they want to, but they always look over their shoulder at Dakota and walk away.

John Evo said...

I always thought old ladies who live by themselves with a dozen cats were CRAZY. But, as time goes by, I could see myself doing that as an old loner. Hell, why not?

By the way, I was thinking about a point the 'Nator made. Why is it that yellow cats are almost always males? Does anyone know the answer to that one?

The Exterminator said...

I just want to thank everyone for expressing their condolences here. I actually got Mrs. 'Nator to read this post and the comment thread today, and she was really moved.

As I've mentioned a number of times before, most of our friends and relatives are atheists. We didn't seek our friends out because of their godlessness; we just happened to be drawn to one another. In some cases, we didn't even know that we were all heathens until the friendship was well underway. So my wife tends to take atheism as a given, and sometimes doesn't quite see why I get so hot and bothered about blogging.

When she saw the responses here though, she immediately understood that we actually do have an online community. Yes, we bloggers in the Atheosphere spend most of our time fulminating about fundies, but we can still take a few moments every now and then to show our concern for one another. I think that's remarkable, considering that we know each other only through our written words.

OK, I've pretty much shot my wad on mawkishness, so I'll now return to my previously scheduled deprogramming.

PhillyChief said...

As a dog lover I find all of you to be loons, but I respect and defend your rights to be loons. that's what it's all about, isn't it?

I've said it before but I'll say it again, I'm saddened by your loss, Ex.

I will at this time proselytize the value of dogs by gratuitously plugging my dog's online photo journal where she tells the story of how we rescued her and how we managed to become a family. Having no kids, we tend to talk about our dog when other couples talk about their kids. the one thing I like to do is bring up the website and ask, "do you have a website for your kids?". Depending on if I like them or not, if they say no I might say, "then I guess you don't REALLY love them". :)~

The Exterminator said...

When you go to the crazy fundie sites, you ought to let Elsa leave the comments.

John Evo said...

Chief, as you know, I've been to Elsa's page and think she's absolutely beautiful.

I have dogs too. They are ok for butt-kissin' sycophants constantly in need of validation and attention. Sound like anyone YOU know, Exterminator?

Anyway, Chief, you failed to indicate if you are allergic - the only acceptable reason for dissent with my post.

"I've said it before but I'll say it again, I'm saddened by your loss, Ex." - you LOON. :)

The Exterminator said...

... butt-kissin' sycophants constantly in need of validation and attention. Sound like anyone YOU know, Exterminator?
Yeah, every Democratic presidential contender.

PhillyChief said...

My dog isn't exactly a sycophant. She's actually a manipulative bitch. Come visit, and YOU WILL RUB HER BELLY. She'll make that happen.

and no, I'm not allergic to cats.