Remember. From the cat’s instinctive point of view, the animal world consists of:
1) things that eat it
2) things it can eat
3) things it can eat but will regret immediately;
4) other cats.
But we then expect it to be perfectly at ease when faced with:
a) Meals On Treadwheels
b) meals in cages(the Flying NcNuggets)
c) mad quivering meals in hutches, which in the worst cases may be forced to join our Real cat, plus two dolls and a teddy bear, for a black-lawn tea party consisting of water and crumbled biscuits
d) feathery meals which actually encouraged to come onto the black lawn for breadcrumbs
e) meals in ponds
f) large grubby barking things
It’s a wonder they stay sane. In fact, as all Real cat owners know, cats get around most problems caused by all of the above by pretending they don’t exist. Just like us, really.
The only household pet I have ever known actually faze a Real cat is a tortoise. This may be because a cat has problems coming to terms with the fact that a tortoise is a fellow fauna. It appears to be a small piece of scenery which inexplicably moves about.
These days you don’t shove a tortoise in a box to tough it out for the winter, since no one makes tortoises any more and they change hands, people keep telling us, for zillions of pounds. We used to let ours doze the winter away in front of the fire, lurching awake every day or two for a bit of lettuce. A peaceful, untroubled existence, but one which did not appeal to Real cat because a tortoise is impossible to frighten. Tortoise don’t know the meaning of the world ‘fear’ or, indeed, any other word. Oh, they nip into their shell at a passing shadow out of common sense, but as far as they are concerned the presence of a cat in front of the fire just means that here’s a pile of fur that is nice to burrow under. They sneak up on it, because for tortoises there’s no other way, and the first the cat knows is when the edge of a shell is purposefully levering it off the carpet. The cat goes and sits in the corner and looks worried. And then one of them develops an unnatural appetite for cat food. The Real cat sits looking gnomically at a shell seesawing madly on the edge of its dish, and sighs deeply.
Terry Pratchett, “The Unadulterated Cat”.
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