A while ago, I did a blog on dogs. Since then, a few readers (one friend in particular!) have asked, “When are you going to write about cats?” Well, today is that day. But today is also Presidents’ Day in the US, so I wondered how might I connect this holiday with cats? Here’s how.
President Abraham Lincoln liked cats. In fact, someone once asked his wife if the president had any hobbies. She supposedly replied, “Cats.” The truth is, many US Presidents had cats while in the White House—including Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Now that I’ve connected today’s holiday with my topic, let’s talk about cats.
Domestic cats today are the world’s most popular pet. They can be found almost everywhere—including on the internet! But where did domestic cats come from? They are likely descended from the African wildcat. We know domestic cats were in ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago. The Egyptians regarded cats as sacred because they curbed disease and helped protect crops from rodents and other pests.
In China, cats were owned primarily by the wealthy. But soon they became so numerous, they eventually spread to India and Japan. Egyptian traders introduced cats to the Greeks and the Romans and other parts of Europe.
During the Middle Ages, cats fell out of favor. They were blamed for the Bubonic Plague. Some rulers ordered all cats to be killed. By killing the cats, the rats (the real culprits in spreading the disease) increased and multiplied. Only in 1600 was the reputation of the cat finally restored.
Here are some fun facts about cats:
A group of cats is called a clowder or a glaring… A male cat is a tom while a female is a molly or a queen... A cat lover is called an ailurophile (from the Greek: ailuros = cat; –phile = lover of.)
The average domestic cat lives about 12-15 years. Cats were thought to have nine lives—probably because cats have an innate sense of equilibrium that helps them land on their feet if they fall. Cats also sleep 13-14 hours a day! They are neat animals and spend 30-50% of their waking hours grooming themselves.
Cats also have powerful night vision. They can see at light levels six times lower than what we humans need to see. Wild cats are nocturnal. Some domestic cats may seem to be most active at night, but some people say domestic cats are really crepuscular, most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.
What are some of the benefits of owning a cat?
Cats can be a great emotional support during difficult times.
In one survey, 82% of women said they are more attracted to men who like animals. About 90% of those women said that men who own cats are “nicer” than guys who don’t.
A cat leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than a dog.
A cat is good for the human heart. Cats have been known to lower their owner’s stress levels.
I’ll conclude with a personal story. Growing up on a farm, we always had outdoor cats: Tommy, Babs, and Lucifer. (We didn’t give Lucifer his name. We adopted him when our neighbors moved away.) I also named several kittens after my favorite Cleveland Indians: Herbie (Herb Score), Rocky (Rocky Colavito), and Roger (Roger Maris who played for Cleveland years before he became a Yankee and earned an * for his 61 home runs in a season!)
One day, someone dumped a cat off in front of our farm. It was a lean black and white tom with a rather dour face. My brother, Pauly, and I fed him on the sly. The next day when our Dad saw the cat on the side porch, he yelled, “No more cats!” and shooed the cat off the porch and down the driveway. But Dad eventually gave in and the cat was added to our feline menagerie. My brother Pauly named the cat “Meow,” saying, “I want my cat to be able to say his own name!”
PS: Last week I ask for your prayers for my work on my new book on beauty. I just had to tell you that last week was one of the BEST and most productive weeks I’ve had so far writing this book. Wow! You’re amazing! Thank you!!!
What do you think of cats? If you are a cat lover, what makes you love cats? If you don’t like cats, why not?
Can you name other benefits a cat can provide?
Do you find cats affectionate or aloof or both?
I thought I’d conclude this reflection with two videos. The first is a cat video. The second is a music video.
Here’s the cat video. I trust that no cats were harmed in the making of this video.
Cats have a way of relieving stress. This song by Josh Baldwin is called “Peace.” It reminds us to lay our worries at the feet of Jesus.
Please respond to anything in this reflection below. I especially hope to hear from some of you cat lovers!