Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cat Contemplations

We spent Christmas Day with Grandmommy in middle Georgia. There were only five of us, and three dogs, who were sequestered on the (heated) back porch when not being allowed out to frolic in the fenced-in backyard. There were no decorations—Grandmommy, who used to change out even her curtains for Christmas-themed ones, didn’t have so much as a wreath on the door—and the mood was unusually subdued. There was good food to eat, and plenty, as is normal for any Grandmommy visit, but the loss of both Daddy and Granddaddy sat with us at the table and sapped the already gray day of any holiday zest.

After lunch, my sweet sister-in-law, Isabelle, and I sat down to pour over the text of the children’s book I composed about the first adventures of a Russian kitten (I hope that we will produce an entire series centered on his character, but we’re just in the early stages now!) and decide on the number and contents of the illustrations she is creating to go with my story. Isabelle is a fantastic artist—she’s getting a Fine Arts degree from a school in Atlanta, and her ink drawings are among the best I’ve seen. And I am particular, really something of a snob when it comes to the visual arts. We’re considering self-publishing the book (high-quality—maybe contracting with a small but reputable company with some distribution contacts, or forming our own and establishing those connections for ourselves!) and selling through Amazon and independent booksellers, but I want to consider our options carefully over the next few months and approach this project from a solid business perspective so as to assure (insofar as it lies within our purview) success.

Thinking about the book and watching Isabelle and Nate with their dogs made me consider: While you can scare a cat, you can never intimidate one. A cat may regard you with deep suspicion and avoid you like the plague, or hiss and spit when you approach it, but it will never come cringing up to you, hugging the floor, and in the most abject “I am dirt and behold you are my master” fashion, piddle on the carpet to show its unworthiness. You will never see even the lowliest feline abase itself in such a way. In its regular interaction with its housemates, human and animal, if a cat pees on something outside its designated litterbox, it does so for reasons of incontinence, contempt, or pique, not humility. I also discovered today that I am apparently allergic to dogs (my nose ran constantly), whereas most cats do not affect me allergenwise.

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