MIDWAY: Cats and dogs

It was all quiet until a strange sound woke me up in the middle of the night. I got up, half-asleep, to discover a little cat meowing at the door. It was a lean-looking creature with twinkling eyes. As an avid animal lover, I jerked myself up and headed for the kitchen to fetch the poor thing an untimely dinner.

When I returned with a bowl of warm milk, it was right there, patiently awaiting its loving host. It lapped up the milk in no time, meowed with gratitude and leaped over the fence to disappear somewhere in the dark.

Every night after that encounter I lay waiting, expecting to spot my cute friend again. But it hasn’t shown up again. While I sit there anticipating my little friend to arrive every night, I wonder how cats have managed to get such a bad name in our society. Whilst their fierce canine rivals are chosen for domestication by lots of people, there are few takers for the squeaky felines. Aren’t these the same creatures that were worshipped by ancient Egyptians? How their fortunes have changed with the passage of time!

Ever since people began to associate cats with superstitious beliefs like witchcraft and sorcery, the cats’ popularity plunged. So much so that even the medieval popes turned against them.

The world today might be free of apartheid but cats (especially the benighted black variety) continue to suffer discrimination. They are linked with all kinds of evils and untoward occurrences like accidents and natural disasters. Many of my “educated” friends, who hold no other prejudice, think no better. They sit on the sidelines when one of these doomed-from-birth beasts crosses their path: Why not let someone else suffer the consequences of breaking an age-old taboo? Why take a risk?

For my part, I consider cats of all stripes and colours among the most graceful creatures on this planet. Their majestic poise on display during the “catwalk” never fails to amaze me.

There is even a degree of elegance about their unexpected meowing. Desmond Morris once said “Artists like cats; and the soldiers dogs.” A born misanthrope, no mulling which camp I belong.