My friend Judi, a feted actress, once told me about her cat, ‘M’, who would sit on a small leather pouf by the fire eyeing her as if she were the Queen of Sheba, or perhaps Cleopatra, who Judi could well on occasion be, until someone else walked into the room. When this happened M would fart like a pig and roll off the pouf as if she were drunk. ‘From Cleopatra to Falstaff, Tomasz,’ Judi said to me. ‘It’s as if she wants to humiliate me.’
‘And what do you do then?’ I asked her.
‘What do I do?’
‘Yes, when that person walks into the room, what does Judi do?’
‘You know, I’ve never really thought about that. I apologise, I suppose. But of course I laugh, and I can’t remember anyone coming into the room who hasn’t laughed as well because all they have to go on from before the fart and the fall is the description of Cleopatra I provide …’
‘Which is like what?’
‘Oh, over-the-top I suppose. Very over the top.’
‘You go to great lengths to describe yourself as this outrageously beautiful woman?’
Judi laughed. ‘Well …’
‘You might say,’ I suggested, ‘that your cat gives you permission to describe yourself as outrageously beautiful.’
Cats do this. They enhance communication rather like one might turn up the volume on a record player, apply a highlighter to a memorandum, add a haunting bass line to a rock song, or emit purple smoke from the back of an aerobatic jet-plane as it loops the loop.
Think of situations where your cat has been present and the effect of that cat; and then think: what would happen without the cat?
I pass a house each day, a very lovely blue house, rather wild looking, more of a country cottage than a house, right in the centre of the city where I live. I never forget to look, and to sample its uncommon beauty, because as I pass it my attention is invariably drawn to a rather elderly, gallant looking black and white cat that seems to spend most of its life sitting on the pavement outside the gate to the house. If I didn’t notice the cat I would trip over it.
And I have seen other people fuss over this cat: pick it up, feed it, stroke it, photograph it; and every time they pay attention to the cat they are also forced to take notice of the house. It’s a subtle house, but one whose presence is quietly announced by the black and white cat which sits there. Black and white cat, I salute you.
Of course cats do much more than enhance communication. Cats can be communication (Fig 8).
What do I mean by this? Well, people have puzzled over the notion of telepathy for many more years than since Myers first named it in 1882. Thought transference has always been an attractive idea, and in many cultures, at various different times, something approaching it has been accepted as almost commonplace. Even Freud was inclined to believe in it and, as a psychotherapist, I must say I have experienced more than enough of it to believe it happens to us all without us ever being able to actually realise it.
What I aim to propose here, though is that cats are telepathy; or, to be absolutely precise the science of telepathy = cats + wonder.
If I wonder about a cat, or a cat seems to be wondering about something, a thought will invariably enter my head. What is so special about that, perhaps you ask? If I think of anything at all, doesn’t a thought enter my head?
Of course a thought will, but this will be a simple, interior thought, rather than a thought born out of cat + wonder. A telepathic thought. When I contemplate a cat I take in some one else’s thinking – whoever else I associate with that cat. If I go to visit my grandmother, Delphine, for example, who is now very old indeed, and I see her cat Montgomery sitting in the sun on her veranda, I take in something exquisite about the old woman usually sitting sewing in the background. Without her I would not know Montgomery. There would be no thought of a cat named after a wartime commander, the ‘Spartan General’, a figure from another time: the time of my grandmother. Montgomery leads me to remember my grandfather, Bill, himself a military hero, and the love of Delphine’s life. Delphine, the beautiful young French woman that saved Bill from a hail of Nazi bullets by throwing him, from the window of her third floor appartment, a heavy metal bathtub in which he hid, turtle like. Montgomery puts me in mind of the superhuman strength she exhibited in tossing a piano from that very same window, crushing those Nazis.
 ‘New Thoughts from Old Minds’, 1999