The House Cat

Cat Life

Habitat: soft beds at night, sunlit spots on the floor during daylight

Language: a variety of meows to indicate feelings from enthusiasm to irritation. Many cat owners also feel that their cats attempt to communicate telepathically, but many cats have given up due to the lack of response by the humans they have attempted to contact.

Here is the sound of my cat Bailey's irritated call:

Here is the sound of my cat Bailey's enthusiastic call (as she was being bribed with cat food):

Occupations: prowling the perimeters of their territories, checking empty food bowls at 15-minute intervals to see if food has miraculously appeared, monitoring doors to attempt to run out when they open

Typology: My father and I have speculated about how to categorize the impressive cats that have entered our lives. Here is our attempt at a typology. The cave cat: squat physique, short legs, short body, short tail, large eyes encompassing at least half the face. Able to open cupboard doors to shelter and hide within. The mountain cat: long legs, long tail, exaggerated whiskers. Able to walk a beam less than an inch wide at great heights. The happy-go-lucky cat: brightly-colored, often a tabby. Able to walk right up to a bus stop full of children and become the center of attention. The October cat: black, capable of scary yowls and piercing gazes. Loves to gaze at a fire in the fireplace and sit quietly next to his family.

The Quest

It is easy to observe domestic cats; simply adopt one of your own. In the East Bay of San Francisco's Bay area, visit the Valley Humane Society.

A happy-go-lucky cat named Buster waits to greet hotel guests at a charming inn along the Central Coast of California

Cat Mystique

To me, my cat seems to be able to see the unseen, hear sounds less than a whisper, sense my feelings even when I cannot voice them, and show trust simply by slowly blinking her eyes. It is a tribute to the cat's powerful and challenging presence that there is so much cat mythology, both good and bad, throughout many cultures.

During the period of horrendous massacres of black cats that took place during the Middle Ages, "God's finger", a white patch of fur on the chest of a black cat, spared cats from death.

At the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise, it is said that only a cat studied the path from paradise and remembers how to return.

The Irish Celts believed that cat's eyes represent a door to another world.

The Welsh King Hywel Dda passed a series of laws protecting hearth cats around 1000 A.D.

The Irish Book of Kells contains a fanciful illustration of a cat chasing a mouse clutching a communion wafer.

A legendary Welsh eccentric, dictionary-writer and linguist Richard Robert Jones, travelled around Wales with his books and his pet cat in the 1800s.

Cats, like crows and ravens, are said to be able to see past, present, and future as if time were not linear but circular.