COLUMNISTS

Cat's tail is just content to go along for the ride

Justin Isherwood
In farm circles it is said a calico cat is a required element of the homestead, as a charm against barn fires. The rule being if you have a barn you ought have a calico cat.

Everybody knows, cats have nine lives. Give or take, nine lives. This the statistical cat average, nine lives. Yet to include cat isotopes such as calico and tiger stripe as may or may not have nine...give or take...lives.

In farm circles it is said a calico cat is a required element of the homestead, as a charm against barn fires. The rule being if you have a barn you ought have a calico cat. Never mind calico is a recessive gene harbored in what appears an otherwise ordinary cat, this alone is not enough to prevent a barn fire. Same thing happens with freckles and red hair, both recessive genes, whether they prevent barn fire is unresearched.

I will not go into the research portfolio as whether red hair and/or freckles are preventive of anything. If I have heard an opposite theory that red hair can cause a barn fire. Personal research indicates this is probably false and racist, if I am of the opinion that red hair and/or freckles deserve their own race.

I am offended every time an application asks for my racial identity. The standard notches being Hispanic, American Indian, Negro/black, Asian and White. I am not white. More orange than white.

Cats come in two parts, their body and their tail. These parts are actually two separate creatures haphazardly welded together for the amusement of the rest of creation. The cat may have a soul but the tail does not and doesn’t care. A cat is the result of two immiscible animals in one piece.

The observation of this is to watch a cat at repose or asleep. The body of the cat is observed to be still, in fact asleep, the tail is not. A clear indication two distinct and separate biologies are involved.

When I see a cat in repose I envy that cat. To lay in some sunny portal, soaking up the rays with all the lush elegance of Cleopatra, and all the while that tail twitching, twining and totally care-free.

One can, of course, take the theological view of the cat...never mind cats are not mentioned in the Bible. Theologically the soul is a big-deal organ, what the cat well represents, the cat being the mortal end, the tail being the soul. The Bible doesn’t go into this because human beings don’t have tails, of whose fault you can draw your own conclusions.

Theology teaches the soul isn’t a body part, rather an essence, that on death vaporizes to ascend unto heaven like good vapors ought. When it comes to the cat the soul has more concrete purpose. Both attached and separate, as is the tail of the cat. Whether the cat’s tail is immortal is another question. What ‘s so wrong with being mortal. It’s not a sin to die and stay dead.

As for the cat’s tail being its soul mate, what I have observed is it is comforting to have a tail. The tail seems the most direct method to deal with anxiety, stress, crisis, financial worries, term papers, the price of corn, winter starting. Things you don’t have to worry about if you have a tail, let the tail do the worrying.

Our house cat named Willow is a stalker of gophers, mice, birds (finches suffered most). The bird feeder was a popular site for our cat to have at it. The cat patiently poised, ready to pounce, stealthily creeping, silently waiting, not a muscle of that cat is moving. Except that tail. This the strange thing about that classic predator pose, the cat all tense, about to take supper and that tail entirely disinterested in the murder. There is the only conclusion, two different animals are involved.

When I see a cat in repose I envy that cat. To lay in some sunny portal, soaking up the rays with all the lush elegance of Cleopatra, and all the while that tail twitching, twining and totally care-free. The cat may be crabby, feeling abused, under-paid, but the tail is content. The tail is joyous.

When science finally gets around to doing some serious redesign of the human being, the second thing I want is a tail. I want what cats have. That separate life form attached that doesn’t care what I want, instead is just content to go along for the ride. What a soul is supposed to do. No sweat, no worries, just like a tail.

Justin Isherwood

Justin Isherwood of Plover is a fifth-generation farmer and the author of Book of Plough,Christmas Stones & The Story Chair, and Farm Kid: Tales of Growing Up in Rural America.