Monday, June 23, 2014

Life Lessons from Cats

As of my writing this, I’m in a house that is associated, in one way or another, with twelve cats. I’ve encountered at least a majority of these cats, and they’re about as varied as you could ask for. Some of them are skittish and won’t even let me touch them most of the time. One of them is lying around and meowing plaintively nine out of ten times I see him, never for any obvious reason. Others are friendly enough, and are usually just sort of there unless it’s the middle of the night and I have to stop them from licking dirty plates on the counter, or something like that.

And then there’s MacKenzie—this overweight, one-eyed, hobbling tomcat. In spite of being a Cyclops with a bad leg, he’s a mostly very docile, even friendly creature. But at the same time, he’s not a cat to screw around with too much. MacKenzie doesn’t get pissed off easily, but he’s got no problem letting you know when he is. One of my arms is recovering from a minor incident that proves my point.

MacKenzie doesn’t really reign over the other cats in some kind of “alpha” fashion, but he doesn’t let them get in his way. Most of the time, he just relaxes, like cats are apt to do. I haven’t seen him ever provoke another cat. But if another gets in the way of what he wants, woe be upon them. When there is food in the food bowl and MacKenzie is hungry, the food is MacKenzie’s, ipso facto. The other cats can either fight for their share or wait until he’s satisfied and have what he leaves for them. They’ve gone with the former option, from what I’ve seen.

None of the other cats I’ve seen are really at the level that they’d challenge MacKenzie, anyway. He’s got a weight advantage on all of them, and he’s pretty able to get around, bad leg or not. Plus, a lot of the other cats don’t exactly make names for themselves in terms of being assertive. MacKenzie scared one off just by looking at it. He doesn’t go out of his way to challenge the other cats, but when they try to cut in on what MacKenzie’s implicitly claimed for himself. He is the über-cat, unbound by the fears and weaknesses of his peers—Diogenes reincarnated.

Perhaps there’s something all of us could learn from MacKenzie. He has the sort of disinterest in his peers’ opinions and ability to achieve what he wants that most of us can only dream of. His desires are simple and uncorrupted—food, human companionship, relaxation. He might overindulge a bit, but he’s getting what he wants out of life. It’s worth thinking about, anyway.

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