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Some scientists have gone on the record stating that the common house cat has a pineal gland more similar to our own than any other animal out there.
But even though quite similar, the cat’s pineal gland is supposedly twice as large as ours.
Those scientists who examine the matter explain that this is how while even when fully awake for the day, a cat gets that spacey look to her. The animal begins to stare out at some point in space with such intensity that we can only imagine what the cat is thinking.
While this is happening, we humans are sometimes a bit judge-y, “It’s a dust mote, you silly beast.” Unless of course the cat is looking at the back of the chair where six months earlier, Granma laid her head down just moments before she died. Then we are apt to get a little shiver down our spine.
Other people speculate that when this happens the cat is communing with beings from another dimension. This makes sense because cats tend to act as if they truly are from some other dimension. In the 1990s during the Mad Cow crisis, someone asked on an internet bulletin board, “Please don’t mention that cats can get this disease?” The reply was a swift one: “How would we ever know?”
Now I tend to feel the spaced-out cat is imagining the possibilities of living in the house across the street, where Kitty believes the cat food is pricier, more accessible, and best of all, there are no dogs.
In any event, all the above-mentioned phenomena might be why if I had to chose to be anyone or any being other than myself, I would really like to be a cat.
But perhaps not a house cat.
After all, if I was a cheetah, I could outrun a lion who only manages 50mph, a gazelle who tops out at 60, and a horse who can gallop a mere 55. Cheetahs, as the super turbo-powered of the feline world, have been known to run as fast at 80 mph.
When a cheetah reaches the end of their life, which is somewhere around the ten to twelve-year mark, they remain as fast as they were a decade earlier. No need for a walker for these beasts!
When I lived in Chicago, in the late Seventies, I would visit Brookfield Zoo, the toddler in tow, and together we would seek out the zookeeper who kept a cheetah as a pet.
He never explained what the zoo management types thought about him doing this. But he made his rounds, with the cat behaving the way any medium-sized dog might, following him into the golf cart that was used to go from one area to another. The cheetah appeared as happy as could be, just to be driven about in said cart at its ponderous 18 mph.
When Gabe and I found the zookeeper, he’d make his way to an area that was fenced in, and then the three of us would sit and pet the “kitty” while the animal purred like crazy.
Decades later, when my father passed away, my spouse and I took in the exhibit at the Chicago Natural History Museum featuring ancient Egyptian relics. We were both intrigued by many items in the display, which spread across two separate halls of the museum. But in addition to the mummies and the various hieroglyphics, paintings, and sculptures, we found a note on a papyrus scroll. The hieroglyphics were translated, and what came across was the fervent prayer to the Egyptian goddess Bast, to please restore the health of the family’s beloved cat. (The more things change…)
Now if some Power made me into a cat, I hope I would be as wonderful as the cats my husband and I have enjoyed over the years.
For several months in 1998, our Siamese cat Sophie stayed at my bedside while I slept and waited out a sickness to pass. Doing this meant she did not make the rounds with our elderly landlord Tony, which involved walking around the garden and helping him pull out the weeds from the iris and rose beds. Despite her love for Tony, Sophie knew I needed her more.
Several years later, when she was in the final stage of cancer, I stayed home from work to be with her. It only seemed fair. And one afternoon, she thrust her body with such force into my chest cavity, as if she could avoid dying if only she could simply merge into my heart. Right then and there, I broke down with needed tears.
I am an animal person. I love dogs and cats both. A dog is fun and makes their human buddy get out and walk around in the fresh air. They play games, and when you are sad, they do their best to cheer you up.
A cat is a bit different than that. But when a cat truly loves you, they know your soul.