Monday, November 17, 2014

Why pat the cat? Graham is currently sitting on my lap and I am stroking his fur, mumbling the usual stupid comments regarding how soft and pretty he is. It occurred to me how much I enjoy patting him – but why?

Obviously there is the sensory pleasure: the feel of his fur on my fingertips. I like stroking the velvety short fur on his face and on his paws. I like how warm his ears feel because of how close to the surface the blood vessels run. The fur on his back is relatively coarse, but on his neck, shoulders, chest and belly it is luxuriously long and soft. 

And on his back legs the fur is thick and dense – I have thought of it as 'rabbit-like fur' ever since reading that description on the Wikipedia page for Ragamuffin cats, which is illustrated with a photo of a cat that I fancy looks quite like Graham. 

And I sometimes like to fantasise that Graham is a pedigree Ragamuffin who was somehow misidentified as 'domestic medium hair' at the pound. It is my sad version of a Cinderella fantasy – the idea that Graham is special and only I, his fairy godmother, can recognise it.

I also like the comforting warmth and weight of Graham lying on me, and the soothing feeling of stroking Graham when I feel distraught or stressed, even though he seems to recognise when I most need to pat him and deliberately refuses to let me. There are few rejections as devastating as when you go to pat a cat and the cat slinks really low to the ground to avoid your touch.

But what struck me as particularly perverse and anthropomorphic is that I get pleasure from the idea that Graham enjoys my patting. I like it when I stroke under his chin and he lifts it up. I like the way he closes his eyes when I stroke his head and ears. I like it when he purrs, or when he snuggles against me.

But ultimately the patting is for me and not for Graham. I like running his puffy tail through my hand, which I can tell Graham doesn't like because the tail starts lashing and he sometimes tucks it away. But I still like patting his tail.

Who knows what Graham thinks? Who knows if he is happy with his life in my house, and with me as his owner? I mean, he miaows at and hangs around me in a way he doesn't with my housemate, and he will leap onto my lap, but who knows if that is only because he's identified me as the main food source, the one to ingratiate himself to?

Sometimes I look at him, hoping for some sign of intelligence or daemon-like connection, and he just stares dully and vaguely belligerently back.

He is just an animal. But what an animal! What a puff! 

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