Saturday, December 06, 2008
The Cat Deficit
tv--Where are all the cats on television? OK, there's a program on tonight on Animal Planet, but overall, cats are underrepresented in television land, never mind the halls of Congress. Why is this? Look, cats will always be better to watch than all other pets combined and they're funny too. Cute? Fuhgeddaboutit. There is Ken Russell's "A Kitten for Hitler," but that doesn't count. This whole state of affairs is puzzling.
So where are the cats? Huh? Where?
Every time I go to the Field Museum in Chicago (which isn't often), I go to the Egyptian section...to see the mummified cats. OK, I look at the artifacts from Pompeii too, I'm a sucker for the morbid, and 3,000 year old dice are cool too. The cats are the best. The Egyptians loved their cats so much that if someone killed a cat they were immediately killed for it. They loved their cats so much that they mummified them so that they could be with them forever in the Egyptian (as opposed to the others) afterlife. That's love, it couldn't be anything else. The Romans and Persians also loved cats, so there must have been something redeeming about them.
I can relate to all cat lovers: I love my cat, Saffron, a precocious little American short-hair tabby, a cute little gray (no, not an alien, I'm beating you to it). Our feline friends tend to have a more nurturing quality to them, and I argue that they bring out the best in humanity, they humanize us and we can learn from them. Cats don't lie, either, there are no cat politicians. They might try to get one past you--getting into food because they're hungry--but lie? Never. Only people can do that, thanks to language.
We want our cats and we want them now. Where are the goddamned cats? In troubled times, cats can be the difference between chronic depression and poetic happiness. Religion? Who needs that when you have a cat, or several cats (just don't get too many, that sometimes becomes a problem with some of the ladies out there). Cats, h-mmmm? I've seen a few on Anthony Bourdain's show on the Travel channel, and they weren't even sitting on a plate. There just aren't enough cats, and that-is-that...wrote Matt (fancy that).
No, there's no deficit of cats on television, what we have is a general cat-as-trophe. Show me the dead bodies and the flooded plains, the general strikes, the murders, epidemics, economic collapse, war, terrorism, the riots--but throw the image of a cat in there every once and awhile and it helps alleviate the tension. A college roommate of mine once wrote an absurdist play about a man whose shoulder sprouted a cat's head, a comedy of manners. How horrible is that?
Why a cat? Because cats are funny, they're good friends, and they're unpretentious and unfazed by much. Cats would be good at poker if they were able. Cats are innately positive creatures, even when they're bad.
Nobody says (until now), "There's a cat in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge," because everyone wants to say, "Ohhhh, kittttyyyy!" My whole point: cats mean good health and happiness (just clean the box). Forget the wives, forget the American Dream, forget religion, and all the rest. Cats are nature's perfection, they're smart, they're where it's at. I'm almost certain that cats tricked us all into creating civilization so that they'd have houses to live in. Now, that's smart. Dogs aren't as smart--they lack the tact--and they don't hold a candle to a cat. Send in the cats!