You’ve probably heard the Boston area is on lockdown while authorities search for the second suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing. Luckily, our cats are highly practiced when it comes to hanging out, hunkering down, and otherwise doing a whole lot of nothing, inside, so we’re spending the day taking lessons from the lockdown experts.
Apr 19, 2013
Jan 26, 2013
It’s been fiercely cold this week, so I’ve spent a lot of time hunkered down at home. Our cats are indoor creatures who have perfected the art of hunkering, mapping out the warmest radiators and most comfortable cushions. On a cold day, there’s something hugely comforting about curling up with a warm laptop and a purring throng of resting, grooming, and sleeping creatures, each of them quietly stoking their inner fires.
This isn’t to say I haven’t ventured out during this cold snap: I still have face-to-face classes to teach, dogs to escort to and from our backyard dog pen, and a photo a day to take. On Thursday, I dragged myself out of my office at Framingham State to take a short walk off campus and back, even a twenty-minute walk feeling like an adventurous arctic exploration. As much as my body might not want to walk when temperatures are in the single-digits, walking in the brutal cold feels strangely healthy after you’ve done it, the brisk air enlivening your steps. “Cold air kills flu germs,” I tell myself as I breathe the first, searing lungful of frigid air. I don’t know whether that is scientifically true, but it feels healthy to breathe fresh air rather than the stale, indoor stuff shared with colleagues, students, and random strangers.
On Friday, J and I went to an afternoon symphony concert, which meant we bundled up to walk from our house to the T and from the T to Symphony Hall, stopping along the way for lunch. “That’s a popular choice,” our waiter chuckled after both J and I ordered hot soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Looking up, J and I noticed that indeed, the restaurant was filled with bundled married couples, many of them eating hot soup and sandwiches, and all of them clearly headed to the symphony.
“These are the hardy symphony-goers who can still get around on their own,” I whispered to J, since the BSO is largely popular with elderly folks, many of whom arrive at Symphony Hall by the busload from local retirement communities: one of the perks of growing old in a city with a world-class orchestra. True to our experience of past concerts, the BSO ushers expertly guided folks with physical challenges to their seats, whisking away canes and walkers to be stored in a neat row outside the restroom: the geriatric equivalent of the rows of baby-strollers you see outside playgrounds and popular amusement park rides.
“At least they showed up,” J mentioned, nodding to our otherwise empty row; apparently many concert-goers stayed home, daunted by either the cold weather or the threat of flu. I’d stuffed a handful of cough drops in my purse before we left home, knowing that Coughing At The Symphony is a social faux pas that is to be avoided at all costs. We didn’t need to avail ourselves of that emergency stash, though, and we heard very few coughs or sniffles during the symphony’s performance. Apparently the folks who venture out for a concert on a frigid day are an especially hardy bunch.
Mar 18, 2011
While Red Sox fans count the days until opening day, today in Newton we had a different kind of milestone: the first day it was warm enough to open the windows to fresh air and birdsong.
Sure enough, as soon as I opened the bedroom windows for the first time this morning, cats appeared from all corners of the house to claim a window seat where they could bask, sniff the breeze, and bird-watch. (From left to right above, that’s Crash, Snowflake, Rocco, and Louie; at left, that’s another view of Crash.) Tomorrow and Sunday, the forecast calls for chillier days–not warm enough for open windows–but that doesn’t matter. The cats and I know that the long containment of winter is over and open-window season is (almost) upon us.
Oct 29, 2010
Jun 26, 2010
It’s true that everyone is a critic. They say cats are difficult to “read,” but it seems clear that Snowflake is not pleased I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw. Although Snowflake is a discerning reader who normally enjoys lounging on Gladwell’s New Yorker essays as well as any book I’ve momentary set aside, this particular collection includes a profile of “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan, an essay about pit bulls and crime profiling, and absolutely no essays about cats. Snowflake, for one, is clearly not amused.
Apr 14, 2008
If you’ve ever wondered what your cute little kitty does when you let him or her outside, here’s a partial answer. Not only can house cats catch and kill birds and mice, they occasionally kill and eat squirrels.
And yes, this cat was enthusiastically eating a squirrel when J and I spotted her during an afternoon walk around Newton this weekend, even though by the looks of it she wasn’t wanting for food. When has simply being well-fed stopped any of us from saying “no” to a particularly tempting tidbit?
We pet-owners seem to think a collar, a regular supply of kibble, lots of cuddling, and several hundred generations of domestication can irrevocably redeem cats and dogs from their “wild” ways, but occasionally even the most pampered pussy returns to her natural predatory habits. In discussing the ethics of meat-eating, my undergraduate Eastern Philosophy professor described some acquaintances’ misguided attempts to raise vegetarian pets. “It is in a cat’s dharma to eat meat,” my professor explained after having defined “dharma” as the underlying nature or “law” of a given creature. Expecting a cat to live like a meat-eschewing Buddhist monk was contrary to the laws of nature, he suggested, and was thus doomed to failure.
If you own cats and love nature, the best thing you can do to protect all creatures great and small is to keep Kitty inside. Even thickly settled suburbs like Newton offer a tasty array of feline temptations…and even the suburbs are wild enough to harbor coyotes that consider cats as cuisine.
J has nine cats, and they all live happily indoors…which is why both rabbits and squirrels romp with abandon in his yard, taunting dogs and cats alike. If this sounds like a happy version of the Peaceable Kingdom, take note: J’s resident backyard rabbit demonstrates a voracious fondness for fresh spring greenery, which is the kind of predatory dharma cottontails are prone to. Regardless of your species or level of domestication, it’s a jungle out there.