In this chronicle:
- many, many kittens;
- my cat looking for his lost balls;
Dogs believe they are human; cats believe they are gods.Unknown
In this new series, I will introduce particular themes I have encountered during my travels. And we start with the most important of them all: cats.
If you are reading this, then you fully understand the fact that Internet was created to share cat memes and videos. In fact, it is highly likely that this world was created for cats to pur and snuggle their way through the multiverse. So it comes as no surprise that cats have been worshipped long before that feverdream-ish broadway show or the very first bongo.
Way before the advent of a rainbow-spewing, nyan-chanting cat, the ancient Egyptians believed that anyone who housed a cat would enjoy great fortune. I am pretty sure most of them still did not escape the tragic fate of death, so maybe the real fortune was all the (furry) friends we made along the way?
In more recent times, they were employed by numerous tradespeople as a means to combat the worst enemy of mankind: loneliness, but also, mice. It was truly humbling to see a merciful and adorable god descend down to this mortal realm to perform such holy yet practical miracles, and it only made us more devout!
And cats unhesitatedly accepted our admiration, because only the best treatments befit a god. Internet is merely a new tool for their theological expansion. And yes, you are being indoctrinated right now as well.
My Cat Obsession
Growing up in a place where a bike was a luxury, I had never seen, let alone had, any pet, other than the seasonal cricket that we would have to bury every fall in the tiny patch of dirt that had more cricket carcasses than actual dirt. Ever since my first touch of a toe bean at the sweet age of 17, I was a believer. Yes, not everyone has the luxury of petting a cat during youth, but better late than never, right?
Being a traveler, it is virtually impossible to keep a pet in my life, but fortunately, many of my ape-descended bretherens have been adopted by our feline overlords, so I can
be pampered pamper them in virtually every corner of this world. Few people can boast the achivement of harrassing cats on every inhabited continent in this world!
Our masters generally do not like to move, unless it is 3am and we are asleep. As a result, the sedentary life suits best a cozy, warm, sunny house. Do not disturb them! They are attending to their busy day-to-day life! Snoozing ain’t laughing matter, and neither is napping!
Of course, my fellow felines, when the time is right, do not forget to ask your loyal bipedal servants to give you a head scrub, preferrably with a toy, or two, or three, because you deserve it. Oh, and do not forget to trick them into the elusive option of a belly rub, just to pounce with all your might! Rwar! Scratch a forhead, push down a vase, oh the classics, never gets old!
At the end of the day, as a superior existence, you are still bound by the ritual: claim a bed. Can be the dog’s, can be the human’s, but it just can’t be your own. Okay? Got it? Without such a ritual, you shall fall from grace and be respected for 1.675% less, and if that does not make your tail swing from side to side in anger, then I don’t know what will.
Of course, as the mascot of the household, you are also responsible for arranging, and especially rearranging, items on the shelves, as well as the fillings of your subordinates’ sofas. You may be held for a short period of time for festive photos or repulsive tik tok dances. Just make your natural face of utter disgust, and it will all be fine.
Yet, some humble masters decided being the lord of everything is nice, but it is also enriching from time to time to take up a profession, and maybe have a purpose other than being the ultimate purpose yourself. I found some of these entrepreneurs in Morroco, mostly taking care of their own goods in the large souk.
In Japan, the cats usually take up roles as the greeters of shops, and statistically, they help boost commerce by at least 570%, depending on the size of their pawprints.
Meanwhile, some took up less capitalistic careers. Hate the way large corporations exploit the worker humans? The restaurants taking away your servants at night and you get less head pats? Why not keep the spirits calm with your supernatural senses and capabilities (you are still a god, duh) in graveyards, tombs, and haunted mansions?
A new emergence of cat-worshipping method is the cat cafe. Popular in Asia, they are as sacred to cat lovers as churches to Christians. Paying for the entrance is no different than donating a tenth of your income to the church. It is not only necessary, it is also the right thing to do. The cats, um, I mean, the clergy, have one job only: be fluffy and cute, and they are damn good at it.
I visited the same cat cafe in Seoul, twice, for some quality time, which is what I call feline-led daily mass. There is not a better life to be pampered, pet, played with, and fed, all because you are just too cute and fluffy. I can’t relate at all!
Cafes like this have been popping up around the world, and many other kinds have been attempted, like a hedgehog cafe I visited in Tokyo. However, doubtlessly not one god has the worldwide appeal and ease of pleasing as the mighty purring cats, so the vast majority are still made up of cat cafes.
“Free Range” Cats
Dear fellow gods, in many parts of the world that have not advanced to the level of completely isolating their human families into cages of concrete, you may find yourself allowed to roam around the vincinity, and even neighborhood. Do not fret, it is merely a further demonstration of our omnipotence, as you can see below.
Before solidifying your territories outside the adobe, first make sure everyone acknowledges your status inside the household. Make yourself as prominent as possible during any meal, and it usually will lead to offerings being made, intentionally or unintentionally. This is critial for reminding others of your superiority.
Also make sure you occupy the locale with the best vantage point. This is not only for lookouts for those pesky government micro-drones that the humans naively call “birds”, but also to ensure the phrase “view fit for a king” is applied accordingly to universal convention. Because we all know out of our 9 lives, 8 of them shall be spent lounging in beauty.
Since now you have a much larger territory to defend, you must make sure you patrol them many times a day, and deal with intruders accordingly. Scratch any new items your human has bought is a good start, and definitely take care of other animals, birds especially, in a swift and efficient manner. Present the trophy to your human so that they do not starve to death. That is not because we care deeply about them, but because if they pathetically perish, who else will be foolish and devout enough to scoop up our poop when we are done?
If you are a cat-lover, or just indifferent as who sits on the throne of the ever-so-controversial pet-admiration podium, then you should definitely consider eastern Mediterranean for your sake of affection. Even though I have only barely skimmed through the area with a few short trips, no place I have ever been presents itself to be so cat-friendly; and equally, the cats in other places have never been so interactive with strangers.
In the only two places I have been in these lands, cats have been roaming free in the streets since time immemorial. They have functionally blended themselves into the little towns, as if they don’t already own everything. Families “share” cats, and every cat is allowed to go as far as they please.
The communities support them with donated food and shelter, while the city provides large fountains that can quench the thirst of both the cats as well as the pigeons they pursue. No other place has made such a harmonious deal with our kings and queens, allowing them basic luxuries while affording them the ultimate freedom. I can say this is truly the cat heaven.
As a result, it is commonplace to walk the ancient alleyways of Dubrovnik and be accompanied by a curious cat, who was more than eager to know what you are up to. Or just realize they are sitting on the streets surveying your every move. If east Europe has the old grandma brigade watching over from the windows, then here the cats have taken over the Big Brother identity.
Here, there is not a person who is not a cat person. And in turn, they approach you assuming that you are a cat person, and that is what I call circle of life. I could sit down on the side of the city walls, and have two cats sitting alongside me just to watch the view together, assuming I already paid the fee of two head scratches.
Especially in old Dubrovnik, with its own churches ringing the bells of 14th century, with the old docks slowly falling asleep in the afternoon for the 800th year in a row, it is particularly difficult to find yourself not in the company of a purring kitty as you get transported back in time.
I normally don’t say things like this, but I truly believe Dubrovnik may just be one of the greatest destinations in the world if you have any space in the heart for our purring friends. This little city of numerous photogenic backdrop is, for the lack of a better word, “purrrfect”.
It is not surprising that with that many cats roaming around freely, certain, let’s say, acts of love, would take place regularly. Undoubtedly many of these Free-Range cat cities have free-range kittens too. If you are not that into cats, I get it, they can sometimes be annoying, stepping onto the keyboard when you are trying to type a rambling blog post about cats. However, it would take a serial killer to not like kittens, right?
So here I have many photos of a litter of kittens born in the ancient Arab castle of Rethymno, Greece, please enjoy them to your hearts content, given that your heart does not give in to their sheer adorableness first. You have been warned, dawwwwww danger incoming.
It is really hard to describe a kitten’s playfulness with words. There is this kind of purity, unspoiled curiosity combined with sheer willpower to explore, that everything else in the world lacks. A kitten may play with your fingers, a ball of yarn, or simply with the shadow of himself. With a perched pair of fluffy ears, he lets out a squeamish mew that somehow gets interpreted as a mighty roar in his little head, and then gets distracted by a passing butterfly. This kind of innocence can never be replicated by anything else, because only a being of true immaculateness can be this playful and carefree.
My dear Dutch friend, Kelly, one day suddenly messaged me: in her workplace in Shanghai, they picked up a little kitten of barely a few days old, abandoned by his mom. I hurried over and saw this little fluffball of utter cuteness, and my heart melted. I could not take care of him in my house, so the only thing I could do is to contribute some money to help them get things in order for Meatball. Yes, I finally managed to make one of my lifetime dreams come true: name something Meatball.
Days passed, and Meatball grew bigger and bigger, and I guess I have to change his name to 獅子頭/Lion’s Head, a kind of huge meatball commonly eaten in Shanghai region. His hobbies include napping, sleeping, and snoozing, but also he likes to roam around the giant horse training grounds Kelly works at, just to demand snuggles from the receptionists or the guards. He also has the serious duty of protecting the barn from rodent infestations, but he seems to be rather lax on that front. Who can blame him, though? Napping is already hard enough of a job!
Meow or Never
Cats are weird. They sleep when you want to play, but dash around at 3am as if it is a matter of life and death. They used to help us snag rats and mice, but now mostly serve as the largest contributor to new sofa purchases. Yet our admiration for them remains the same, not sure if it is because of their fluffy little faces with large watery eyes, or just because we have grown attached to their presence.
Scientists are still debating about the history of cats. For dogs, we see a clear line of domestication, but cats are a mystery. Some say we actively took them in and carefully raised generations of kitties, yet some say they just approached us one day, and asserted themselves. Whether the cats domesticated themselves or not, one thing is for certain: we have worshipped them for a while, and base on the number of cat memes, it shall continue to be the case for a very, very long time.
And maybe, just maybe, we simply have grown together for so long, it is hard for us to leave each other’s company. Maybe it is just a kind of destiny, that the toebeans and fingers shall remain united, per fate’s desire.
And maybe, just maybe, silently, subconsciously, innately, we love each other with every fiber of our being.
Maybe, just maybe. 😉