cats

Bobby

Bobby was a cat that lived in my street when I was young. Nobody knew where he lived. I tried to work it out but never could. I saw him go in and out of houses but never the same one, apart from once or twice. He was a cat with dark markings. If anybody knows where Bobby lived I’d sure like to know.

Alastair, Oakland, Pennsylvania, USA

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cats

Q: (vii) When I Hear My Cat Purring It Sounds Meaningful

What do cats mean? Does a cat’s purring mean anything? Of course it does. Your cat means something, and you will make what your cat purrs mean something anyway. Humans have an innate ability to impute meaning: to animal’s noises, to cloud formations, to weather systems, to patterns of stars, to a sequence of random events. We drive ourselves crazy reading more into the actions of people around us than we need to while driving other people crazy by not paying enough attention to what they actually say.

So what do cats tell us? They tell us nothing, but we always hear something. Cats no doubt mean things when they act or purr, but what we assume is always going to be the human-being-centred version.

A cat may be purring and I may be with her or him (as you see, I give my cats a gender they have never asked for), but this may be like when I sing in the bath and a bird looks on through the window.

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cats, Uncategorized

Q (vi): do cats navigate like people?

I saw a cat on a barge once: I believe the barge was bound for Holland, but I have no idea where the cat was heading. Cats are thoroughly unpredictable in their movements. They do not signal their intentions as we do, or begin journeys in a predictable way. A cat will often deliberately look in the opposite direction to the one in which it is heading, and might scamper backwards as a prelude to running forwards (or jump onto something, only then to descend and wander off keeping low to the ground). So no, they do not navigate as we do. ‘CATNAV’ would be good for a spy trying to throw off a tail, but bad for finding your way anywhere useful.

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cats

Q: (v) Do Cats Have Birthdays?

I chose this question because it is in fact my birthday today. Do cats have birthdays? Well, they seem to take part in everybody’s birthdays. My birthday is in many ways my cats’: cats don’t seem overly concerned about whose name is on a birthday card, just the size of the cake on the table, the amount of food left unattended or the quality of discarded wrapping paper on the floor.

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cats

Q (iii) In Your Text There is a Mirror With a Cat Looking Into It. Is This a Reference to Lacan’s ‘Mirror Stage’?

No. Lacan and I think along very different lines. Lacan had a pet rat called Lucien who co-authored many of the key Lacanian texts, or so the story goes, whereas I rarely consult my cats. I admit that this is because my cats would probably tell me to whistle if I asked for their input, but that is another matter. Lacan’s rat had a formidable brain, quick paws and a strong competitive streak. It’s a shame. If Lacan had been more firm with his rat I believe psychoanalysis would have gained, greatly.

My ideas about mirrors are very different from Lacan’s. For me there are no stages, only mirrors.

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cats

Q (ii) My Cat Sings, Does Yours?

I have never heard any of my cats sing. I have thoughts that they might: but it is more the mice that they try to catch which I think could sing. In ‘Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk’, Kafka writes about such a mouse. Cats tend to fiddle, rather than sing.

You tell me, however, that your cat sings. This must be a very personal affair, which I applaud. To live with a singing cat and not to sell the story to a newspaper like the Daily Mail speaks very well of you. I would say that to have a singing cat and to keep it private suggests you are a person of integrity and, I would imagine, one whose life contains great things. If I were a cat that sang, or another creature with an unusual cast to my personality, I would look you up.

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Q (i) Is it true that they sent a cat to the moon, and what would that mean to your theories?

Well, I really do not know. There was thought that Neil Armstrong’s kitten, ‘Giant’, travelled¬† to the moon with him and the crew of Apollo 11, but general consensus seems to be that this was a rumour put about by Soviet propagandists who, at the time, were desperately trying to put a bear into space. Archive footage of what looks like a rigged up ‘kitten-bear’ fight on the surface of the moon, in which the bear clearly wins did surface at a junk shop in Kiev a couple of years ago – but most agree that this was material created as a prank by some Russian film students. At any rate, the bear never took to the air and although I do believe you can hear a kind of purring sound in the background as Armstrong makes his famous speech from the moon’s surface, it does seem unlikely.

What does this mean to my theories? I’m not sure. I imagine that the human reaction to a ‘kitten-bear’ fight broadcast across the world from the moon would have been extraordinary, with very unpredictable effects. ‘Cats are change’, indeed.

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