Some reflections on concepts of time
I had an interesting conversation with a friend a couple of days ago about concepts of time. They vary a great deal by culture and by person. One concept of time with which many of us may be familiar is what I will call “cat time.”
You know cat time. Cat time is what the cat wants, when the cat wants it. Cat wants food: Right MEOW! Cat wants pet pets? Right MEOW! Cat wants laser pointer? RIGHT MEOW unless you want to lose a hand. Cats can be very clever in how they communicate with their humans as to what they want and when.
In the spring, when the birdies start to sing around 4 am, Loviefluffy insists that I get up with her to listen to the birdies. It is not enough that I open the window so she can smell the spring air and hear the birdies clearly (she never goes out, so fantasizing about eating the birds is all she will get, but that seems to suffice.) I must stay up and listen to the birdies with her. So I adjust my schedule to go to bed earlier and wake up at 4:15. I go on cat time.
Cats, when dealing with humans, can be notoriously impatient. But have you ever watched a cat stalk a mouse?
Watching a true predator do what she was born to do is a thing of beauty. The grace of a cat in pursuit of a mouse is something to behold. Loviefluffy is an excellent mouser, which is very important as I live in an old Victorian that will have mice from time to time no matter what.
I have seen her stalk a mouse for hours. She once got a mouse stuck on the top of a high bookshelf all night. Every few hours I’d wake up and go to see where she was, since she wasn’t sleeping at the foot of the bed as usual. Sure enough, she was absolutely still, watching the terrified mouse, who was also absolutely still. She was in a standoff with said mouse for ten solid hours. I never saw a corpse, so I think the mouse eventually got away. She slept the entire next day. But her determination and concentration while stalking her prey were impressive.
My now passed over the Rainbow Bridge cat Kieffer caught a mouse in our house in Conshohocken once. My ex, MR, did not particularly like Kieffer, but he was sufficiently happy with the mousing that he gave Kieffer a pet pet. Kieffer ran away from MR in shock - he was not used to getting pet pets from this non-Mommy authority figure who fed him consistently and told him to get off the kitchen counter. For days and days after, Kieffer spent eight hours a day, forty hours a week, (he was a union organizer’s cat - he knew about the eight hour day and the forty hour week!) on the full time job of sitting in stalking pose at the exact spot from which the mouse had emerged from behind the fridge. Their might be another. Catching one mouse is proof of concept: it can be done. The cat is willing to wait.
Cat time is a careful calculation of what they can get when. Treats from humans - easy. Techniques vary based on the human and the cat, but getting things from humans is a fine art perfected by cats since ancient Egypt and probably before. The most cuddly get the table scraps. The least cuddly eat the rats in the grain stores. The truly cuddly get worshiped as gods and goddesses, as it should be. (I recognize that my religious beliefs may get a bit confusing, at times. Cat worship is consistent.)
When dealing with their natural prey, the mouse, cats adjust their time frame to the nature of the hunt. They can always outlast a mouse: it’s what they were born to do. Even if they’re not hungry and won’t actually eat the mouse, it’s in their DNA to want to catch them.
Unless of course they don’t. I do know of cats who do not catch mice. People have asked to borrow my cat because she catches mice well, but she is not looking for freelance work at this time. We’ll let you know if that changes. Feel free to add your name to the waiting list in the comments.
Loviefluffy is not hungry as she is well fed, so she often just plays with a mouse. That gets sad to watch, so I have become somewhat expert at catching the mice and putting them outside to run free and not come back to this house. Should I add minor mouse catching, beginner level, to my resume and LinkedIn? I am quite good at it, but I only have one reference who neither writes nor speaks on the phone.
It is important to be flexible and discerning in figuring out what kind of time one is dealing with. Is this a “Right MEOW!” situation, or is this a long game, a mouse?
I was taught how to play a long game a long, long time ago, as a new union organizer. Every conversation with a worker, every flyer, every action, is leading up to a bigger victory. You can’t be disturbed by fluctuations. To survive emotionally, as well as to win, you can’t be put off by one bad conversation. There are workers who will vote no. We call them 4’s in a rating system of 1-4 where 1 is so supportive as to be on the organizing committee, 2 is you’d bet your life they’re voting yes, 3 is undecided and can be moved, 4 is not for it and you stop talking to them.
Don’t talk to 4s is a topic for another day, but one that I will address.
In times of crisis, it is extremely tempting to want relief Right MEOW! A great number of strategic mistakes are made in the pursuit of Right MEOW. Right MEOW may bring a short term decrease in discomfort, but it often seals off the path to long term victory, peace and stability.
So the next time you are tempted to demand that everything be sealed up in a neat little box with a catnip flavored ribbon Right MEOW! consider the cat and the mouse. Patience isn’t the way you feel, it’s the way you act. Watch your cat and tune into her instincts. She knows.
And if you get bored, have some of the dry food. Origen Six Fish, grain free, organic. It’s quite good really. So I’m told.
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