Cat Mythology : Most lower complex animals, invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles probably have an ‘as is’ worldview and accept whatever comes their way – go with the flow. But once you consider relatively taller and more complex animals, such as birds and mammals, then the complexity of the brain becomes such that to a greater or lesser extent intelligence and the ability to think and think things out have to be considered.
Those of you who have companion animals, or even those of you who have just observed animals from a distance, may wonder what these animals look like and may even think about life, the universe and everything. That is, each animal must have some kind of personal worldview; perspective or point of view may be forever beyond our understanding – usually but not always.
I chose the cat in this particular case because I have owned a cat for most of my life. This essay could easily be a dog or a horse or any other pet mammal.
So what is a cat? Can we identify with them? Can they identify with us? Well, pet cats are fun; curious; adaptable; selfish; they dream; they love variety although they can also be creatures of habit; they can ‘think’ things out and make decisions; they have vocal language and body language; they show emotion; they have memory and therefore somewhat have a sense of history; they have the same sense organs as we do; they have their own likes and dislikes whether it is food; a place to sleep, where they want or don’t want to be scratched or rubbed or caressed; and in short, every cat has a very unique personality.
Cats are of course very self-absorbed, maybe a little more than the average adult human, but certainly similar to human babies and toddlers whose worldviews are very selfish with almost 24/7 gimmies, gimmies, gimmies; I want, I want, I want. Cats, at least those who come into contact with humans have gimmicks/I want them, and like babies/toddlers, the ‘nuisance’ factor can often be extreme.
In short, cats really do look like miniature versions of humans despite being furry, especially babies/toddlers. But, how close is that version really?
For starters, and perhaps like all animals, cats may have a worldview similar to being at the center of everything – be-all-and-all-and-all – and that the whole environment in which the cat is located is there. to provide all the cat needs.
From a domestic cat’s point of view, the world owes its life! How else can a cat see something? A person’s self-perception tends to revolve around ‘I am the center of the universe’ because you are most closely tied in your worldview to yourself and not so closely attached to anything else.
Therefore, whatever it is, a self-centered worldview must be subservient. Of course cats often find out the hard way that that part of external reality has a different opinion. It never seems to change the cat’s world view that he is a ‘top dog’* and deserves all the best that goes with it – which may not be the ‘best’ nature can give but cats don’t know it.
Cats certainly have no understanding, perhaps like toddlers, of being on the road, underfoot, in danger of being stepped on or occupied, while helping themselves to whatever part of household geography suits them. One can deduce from their selfish behavior (from our point of view), their worldview must be one of ‘supreme being’ and ‘special-ranked’, and such a worldview will last at least until the moment their tail is stepped on. or they get knocked off the chaise longue! They may still see themselves as supreme beings – their world view of you is now somewhat changed.
The average head of household and cat owner might somewhat argue or have an excuse that ‘I pay the bills, so I decide and what I say goes’! Cats may be able to understand ‘head of the household’ in feline society, as in all animal societies, all cats are not equal – there is a hierarchy and just one cat will be the ‘top dog’. But nothing in the cat worldview has anything to do with money or bills or economics or finances.
Everything is a free lunch, be it sunlight or electric/gas/wood heating that you, the owner, pay for. Even if the cat goes out and catches and eats the mouse, the cat’s lunch is still free as far as the food you put in his food bowl is concerned. So the bit about ‘I’m the boss because I pay the bills’ has no meaning or significance to cats because the concept of ‘bills’ is foreign.
Cats have no mythology about shopping. Post-Christmas sales and weekly specials in supermarkets are foreign concepts. So is the almost supreme abstraction for humans – time. Birthdays are non-events with no realization when they occur and without relevance in any event.
Ditto all the other special points in time like the holidays we humans are obsessed with. Cats are not used to staying up late on New Year’s Eve. That’s of no consequence. Weekends are no different from weekdays.
Similarly, cats don’t seem to have a world view of tomorrow or the future (though they do have memories of the past). It doesn’t save for a rainy day. I’ve never seen a cat hide a few pellets of dry cat food for a future emergency or a midnight snack. A cat is very ‘now’ oriented. A cat may not have a concept of death, much less an afterlife. I’ve always tended to have two cats at once for theoretical reasons they have a friendship when I’m not around.
Thus, a cat will eventually go to that huge ‘trash box in the sky’ and thus the surviving cat (at least temporarily) will be without its companion cat ‘friend’. However I never noticed a noticeable change in the behavior of the surviving cats. The deaths and transfers of other animals seem to have some relevance to me throwing empty cans into the recycling bin. Now if I throw away the cat’s favorite chaise longue it might elicit more reactions!
It’s hard to teach any cat that hasn’t been embedded in its little gray cell. I mean, you don’t tend to keep watch cats, spy cats, or cats that sit, stop on command in the corner, beg and play catch and throw, etc. when the owner says so. The cat worldview is quite alien to such a concept, although there is a slight difference between cat IQ and dog IQ. Maybe that’s why the saying ‘dogs have masters; the cat has a slave!
These are some of the significant differences between the mythological worldviews of cats relative to humans (or even dogs, who are known to ‘grief’ over the death of a companion dog or owner. If I die, my feline loyalty will shift quickly-smartly to the next human to feed it). .
I noted above that cats dream and why not. I judge this because often when they are fast asleep I often see their feet and mouth twitching as if in response to something going on inside their head. I assume it is not the abstraction that occupies this assumed dream state. It may be related to visions of chasing and eating fat mice and fat birds that can’t fly! There’s no way to say for sure, but that’s what I suspect. If they dream, they dream of practical things related to cats.
I’ve never been under the impression that cats contemplate anything at any time except practical matters that have a direct bearing on the here and now. A clear example is that every cat always finds itself on the wrong side of the door, and you are expected to correct the situation as often as necessary – which is very often the case.
No wonder people put cat covers on! After all, things like philosophy and religion and art and mathematics and something abstract are not only not considered and immediately dismissed, cats may not even be able to understand such things in order for them to be rendered irrelevant to cats. world view. There is no creativity in their little gray cells. I highly doubt whether any cat has thought about whether he has free will or not.
My cat doesn’t respond to cat art, such as the cat image on the calendar. Music soothes beasts but with one small exception, all my cats are oblivious to whatever type of music CD I’m playing, be it classical or jazz, country & western or film scores; vocal or instrumental.
The exception to that was that I once had a cat that would react to a whistle in a song emanating from the speakers. However, cats may therefore never have to endure the upsetting experience of having an annoying song playing endlessly, over and over in their heads!
If cats had a human frame of mind, they might imagine something like: In the beginning, the big cat gods, call it Bastet (also spelled Bast, Baast, Ubasti and Baset) after the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, were created not just domestic cats, but all of them. an indispensable part of their world. At first Bastet created a sandbox that was always pure; always full bowls of food and water, and lots of birds and mice for the cats to chase, catch and eat.
That’s of course according to cat mythology, if cats have a human imagination. Actually no. No cat imagines a complete mythology about the origin and evolution of cats. If cats have a mythological worldview beyond self-concept and the present, then it might center on what is man’s strange best friend. And I’m 99% sure that while such human activities may be interesting, they are equally incomprehensible.
Translated, whatever mythology our domestic feline friends create that explains their worldview to their satisfaction, it will bear little resemblance to actual human activities on behalf of animals, such as the concept of money to pay for the goods and services they receive.
Cats have no concept of livestock (slaughtered as pet food), biological evolution (which provides birds and mice and the ability of cats to chase, catch, and snack on them), infrastructure that provides them with fresh water (and other goodies) that end up as products. end in their water bowl, etc.
So while I don’t know what mythological worldview my cats have (and they may not be exactly the same – every cat’s worldview will be partially unique) it’s wrong.
However, we can speculate; take scenarios that are an integral part of their world, natural or otherwise, and try to figure out how they see and interpret things through their eyes.
So what goes through a cat’s mind when it doesn’t immediately take care of me; now – when it is not needed immediately to fulfill various biological needs and functions? The cat just sat, awake, alert, observing, but what was he thinking? Does it have to be lost in thought at all?
Maybe I didn’t suspect. In fact, they most likely don’t observe just for the sake of observing – always looking for something to chase and eat (which may just be ingrained in their brain), or for something that might chase and eat them.
I mean, my cat is attracted to birds; I’m also interested in birds – but for a completely different reason. On the other hand, my cats are attracted to a clean litter box, but what comes to their mind when every time they go to the litter box it is still pristine, even though it wasn’t in the condition it was some time ago for obvious reasons? Do they associate the ‘then but now pure’ phenomenon with the cat god or with me or neither?
Cat food appears on demand in the bowls they eat in, but they have no understanding of the chain of events between manufacture, distribution, the need for money to buy, transport, open, and pour the food into the bowl. So how did they explain the food that had somehow magically appeared before them?
Do they have a food bowl mythology? Or, perhaps it is a phenomenon that exists, and they think of it no more than a fish contemplating the nature of the water it enters. For some reason, I find it really hard to imagine my cat lost in thought wondering about all of it. why and why is related to the food they consume.
Well, we have some ideas on what cat worldview mythology is (me; now), and no (nothing abstract) but you, the owner, are not an abstraction. How do you fit into your animal mythology?
Cats should have a field day in regards to creating a mythology that explains the strange habits of the creatures they share their environment with – humans. For example, my cat sees me getting dressed every morning – I wear fur. Since cats don’t need to dress, this behavior must be very strange to them. The same goes for making the bed or washing the dishes.
The cats must have been terrified by my habit of intentionally getting wet through the shower or tub every day. What activity can repel a cat more than that? Yuck! How do cats describe where they live and all the things in it? I know where it all came from, but how do they explain it all? Did they even bother to try to explain it? Part of it all is my personal computer (PC).
They see me typing on this PC but I’m sure they don’t understand what this PC device is or why I peck it instead of paying attention to them. When I’m out of the house, shopping, or going to the club for a cold beer, do they wonder where and why? Are they worried that I might not come back, because otherwise they’ll find themselves in pretty pickles.
Or, is the fact that I am far from important and of no consequence and does not give rise to speculation? Since they didn’t seem agitated when I left, I suspect they had no understanding of the possibility that I wouldn’t return, instead being run over by the proverbial bus.
So have my cats developed viewpoints, worldview mythologies to explain birds (a natural part of their environment), litter boxes (not so natural), and PCs (not at all natural)? I suspect they don’t. These things are only and need no mythological interpretation to explain them.
Cats like to lie down and lie down and soak up the warmth of the sun. How do they explain this sunlight and warmth since perhaps they know nothing about stellar astrophysics, nuclear fusion, photons, etc.? Could it be, if so, our cats conclude that originally the big cat god Bastet created the Sun to give them pleasure and warmth, but, Bastet hid the Sun periodically (at night) so as not to really spoil us cats? Maybe I didn’t suspect.
The Sun’s warmth may be (like water to fish) – they may not even make the connection between the Sun, sunlight, and the warmth that gives them.
Conclusion & Summary: So what is the domestic cat worldview mythology? Well, if the cat could talk, it might say something like this: “This is all about me; it’s all about now; everything else is normal and if it doesn’t affect me now, it’s irrelevant.” The more I think about it, the more I draw parallels between cats being immortal toddlers (me; now; the others are fair, though interesting and worth exploring), but at least without the tantrums!
* The observation or standing joke is that a dog thinks to himself that ‘my man feeds me and plays with me and looks after me, therefore he must be a god’. The cat thought that ‘my human feeds me and plays with me and takes care of me, therefore I must become a god!’ There is an awful lot of relevance in that observation IMHO.