East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



No, not the old-musical-now-a-major-motion-picture-with-a-creepy-trailer Cats. I really mean the, you know, small killing machines that have domesticated humankind since the neolithic.
Cats, Felis domestica.

Yesterday, talking with a friend, I learned about an organization that works with cats, and that’s called Freddy’s Cathouse. I’m not swimming in gold, but I decided I’ll support them, because it’s a worthy cause, and comes with the recommendation of someone I trust. Also, I love the idea of being able to say I support a cathouse: Harry Flashman would be SO proud of me!
I’m also spreading the word, as you see – and I’ll try and see if there’s a badge I can place here in the sidebar for you to ignore.
I like cats.

One of the things that really surprised me, when I moved to the countryside, was the dismal way in which the natives treated the local feline population. Because dogs are good, one guy explained to me. They do hard work, protect the home, help during the hunting season, and find truffles. But cats? Ah! Lazy useless freeloaders, and evil.
I blame Tom & Jerry cartoons, or maybe the Catholic Church.

Maybe for this reason, cats have a hard time hereabouts, and when the news spread that there was a Sapiens that was willing to share his food (like, putting outside a bowl with the chicken bones and the kitchen leftovers), our courtyard turned into a sort of cat hangout.
The local population is quite large, because we are close to the river, and that’s where people come and drop unwanted kittens. Many cats survive, and go feral. And they know about the Mana Brothers’ household.
They pass by, check if there’s anything to eat, and they know there’s shelter if it’s raining, and cool shadow in the grass during the torrid summers. In winter, we place boxes outside under the porch, with old sweaters and blankets. The cats know what to do.

As part of a book bundle, I also got a copy of a book called The Cat Owner’s Manual, which is exactly what it says on the cover: a book about cat maintenance, covering everything from home installation to basic programming, to troubleshooting.
Now I spent most of my life around cats, but sometimes some good reference helps, and the tech manual look and feel of this book – that was written by veterinarians, not comedians – is quite funny.
But it is also the kind of book in which you learn how to do the the Heimlich Maneuver to your cat, or practice Artificial Respiration and CPR.

This is yet another one of those things that contribute to our aura of weirdness with the natives, but quite frankly, who cares?
The first year I moved here, we had a rat problem.
We don’t have anymore.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Cats

  1. I love my dog. He’s my running buddy and my writing companion, but I gotta admit, it’s our cats that have caught mice, helped me swat flies (while the dog quivers under the desk), and rooted lizards from under the sofa. Cats are awesome.


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