History Doesn’t Repeat Itself
Some 12,000 years ago, wild cats (Felis Silvestris Lybica) and humans began to establish a relationship. At that time, thanks to the development of agriculture, people started to settle down in an area historically referred to as the Fertile Crescent, what we now call the Middle East. Communities had a surplus of grain to hold for future use. These grain stores became targets of rodents which was a big problem for societies, but was a boon for the cats who had access to an abundance of Rodentia tartare.
Into towns came the wild cats for a constant supply of easy to catch meals. People were so grateful for the arrival of the mousers, they brought them into their homes, and voila, Felis Silvestris became Felis Domesticus. Cats were held in such high regard by the Egyptians, the animals were deified as the goddess, Bastet. Other civilizations also looked upon the domesticated animals in a similar fashion. This historical fawning over felines is why today’s house cat thinks the world revolves around them.
That brings us to Chester. Like his ancestors, Chester feels strongly about his self-importance in our home. To convince him otherwise would be like trying to find an ending to pi. But unlike the long lineage of Felis Domesticus, Chester is not a hunter. He pretends to be, but he’s not.
Chester is a house cat (Piger Domus Cattus). His idea of the hunt is no different than a person who thinks they’re a great musician while playing air guitar. It’s an act that allows him to live briefly in his kitty fantasy world as the great stalker and killer of small creatures.
“The phrase ‘domestic cat’ is an oxymoron.”Mark Twain
Indoors, Chester has all the moves of a hunter. He gets into the classic cat crouch, twerks his rear, wags his tail and makes chattering war cries, just before his imaginary leap onto the helpless prey.
When we bring Chester outside onto our backyard deck, the one place we allow him to go alfresco, he is clueless. Many a time has a chipmunk scurried by our big game hunter and he either doesn’t see the critter, or just stares at it.
Where’s the crouch? Where’s the twerk? Where’s the pounce? What happened to thousands of years of predatory instinct? Yawn.
If you put a chipmunk in front of his face, he wouldn’t catch it. That’s a fact, because it’s what Genifer did.
One day, a chipmunk was walking on the railing of the deck when it spotted Chester and froze in its tracks. Of course, Chester didn’t see the rodent, but the humans did. Genifer implored the tabby to attack and make our family proud. This went on for several minutes before my wife couldn’t take it anymore. She went over to Chester, picked him up, and dropped him on the railing a few inches from the intruder.
Off the railing flew the chipmunk, off the railing flew Chester; and then….
I wasn’t totally truthful about Chester’s hunting abilities. There is one living thing he excels at catching, the lawn.
Chester is a grass addict and we are not here to help his craving. No sooner had his paws hit the ground, he stopped going after the chipmunk who had run under the deck. Instead, he looked puzzled and was more interested in the grass. The faux hunter went back onto the veranda, cowering under a chair while we scolded him for his failure to be a real cat.
Lily and I were howling, as was the chipmunk.
There were no other felines to see what had happened, saving him the embarrassment at the loss of his cat street cred. Except gossip travels in our neighborhood. The chipmunk starts talking to his brethren, they pass it on to the squirrels and finally the pack rats with bushy tails yell down from the trees to the cats. Next thing you know, there’s a cluster of felines laughing their whiskers off in front of our home like a clan of hyenas.
At that point I don’t care about Chester’s feelings; I’m putting a “for sale” sign in front of our domicile to start a new life, incognito of course. Pitcairn Island is sounding better by the moment.
If Chester is trying to disguise his intentions for a grass fix, he will wander slowly to the steps or the railing acting as if nothing is going on; akin to someone walking around a museum checking out the art. Then he lunges for the grass. Other times he takes off like he’s chasing a chipmunk, but as previously noted, he slams on the brakes, taking as many bites as he can before we scramble to chase him back into the house. It happens so often; all we have to do is open the screen door and he runs inside. He knows what he did, but he can’t help himself. There will be plenty more opportunities.
In fairness to Chester, we’ve had a lot of rain this year and the lawn is considered one of the better vintages by cats in Connecticut. Grass Spectator magazine (Chester has a subscription) rated it between 95-100, its top grade. C’est manifique!
If we let Chester have his way, I might not have to mow the lawn anymore. But the consequences to his digestive system would result in a tapestry of vomit that will kill the qi in the feng shui of our home.
No, Chester doesn’t have COVID-19; but his personality has been shaped by it. It was only a few weeks after he arrived in our home that the country shut down and we pretty much stayed in our house. That meant there was no interaction with other people or pets and the isolation only reinforced his scaredy cat temperament.
Eventually we formed a pod with our next-door neighbors. Our socializing was restricted to our yards and homes. When they came over, Chester kept his distance. If one of their daughters brought their dog over, distance turned to hiding.
As time passed, Chester would wander in the vicinity of humans and canines, but not too close. He was content to watch the action from a safe distance in case somebody got too near and he had to fly up the stairs to hide under a bed.
“For a man to truly understand rejection, he must first be ignored by a cat.”Anonymous
Our other next-door neighbors have a boxer dog. There have been a couple of occasions where Grace or Lily thought it would be a good idea for Chester to make friends. As they approached the fence that the dog was behind, she would get excited and wag her stub of a tail. Clearly the canine was looking forward to making acquaintances. Meanwhile, Chester would be laser focused on the pooch until he felt the journey had gone too far. At that point, he would bolt out of the arms of whoever was holding him and jet propel himself back to the deck, sitting by the screen door to be let inside.
Poor dog had the look of a jilted playmate. Chester had the look of, “what were you thinking?”
In 1925 the Geneva Protocol was signed by members of the League of Nations banning the use of chemical weapons following World War I. As a cat, Chester did not, has not, and will not agree to this. Too bad for our family.
For a cuddly, cute and small animal, Chester discharges the foulest stench when he uses his litter box. The results of his defecations are more in line with major chemical spills, than that of a fastidious cat.
He begins the process by serenading the house with meow yelps as if he’s been forced to watch Ishtar for the 100th time. Then, when he’s done doing his business, what follows is similar to that which occurred in the trenches of the Great War. The gas creeps silently out of the bathroom and envelops us.
When this happens, we open the window to the lavatory and close the door as fast as we can. Behind the door we can hear the air scream for mercy.
While the humans suffer, Chester is happy as he can be. The tabby does joyful wind sprints from the kitchen to the family room and back; freed of the evil that was inside him. How nice of him to share Hades with us.
I’m guessing synthetic catnip plays a role in this diabolical creation.
Eventually, someone has to go in there to save humanity. My wife, Genifer, is usually the brave one who enters the danger zone, much like a bomb disposal expert examining a suspicious package. She does this old school style; that is, no bomb or hazmat suit. After disarming the weapon of mass destruction, she wraps it in a plastic bag and places it inside a bomb containment chamber, more commonly known as the garbage can in the garage.
If the Medal of Honor were given to civilians, Genifer would have a roomful of them.
So overwhelming is Chester’s filthiness, we’ve been approached by several nation states seeking either the formula for his discharge, or the outright purchase of our pet in their attempt at becoming a global super power. As a proud American, I will not do this; at least until I hear what the U.S. military is willing to offer first.
God bless America!
What’s In a Name
Chester doesn’t respond to his name or anything else we call him. Instead, it’s specific sounds. The sound of the top coming off a container of kibble or a tin of cat food, the sound of the slider to the deck widening as he runs thinking he’s going outside; or any window opening, so he can sit on the sill and watch the goings on around our home.
That hasn’t prevented us from coming up with nicknames for our cat.
Using the T.S. Eliot guide to naming cats, here’s a breakdown of what we call our pet.
|Sensible Name||Peculiar Names||Chester’s Name for Himself|
|Chester||Chester Buster Boy|
Chester A. Cat
This list is sure to grow.
Chester A. Cat is one of my nicknames for our pet. Why? I like obscure things, people and events. Chester A. Arthur fits that bill. He became the 21st President of the United States following the assassination of James A. Garfield in 1881. In a particularly bad period of political cronyism, his greatest accomplishment was signing the Pendleton Civil Service Act which made the promotion of federal employees based on merit, not patronage.
But what stands out the most for me about Arthur, is that he had by far the greatest mutton chops of any president. Chester A. Cat apparently is also a great admirer of Arthur and recently wore mutton chops for Halloween. Sadly, for our Chester, no one was handing out kibble. Since chocolate can be fatal to felines, we had to take away all of his Kit Kat bars.