WILLIAM THE CAT

I am not a fan of cats.

They leave excrement in my orchard and pee on my windfall apples.

But, I have a grudging respect for William the cat. He is white, sleek – turning to a little tubbiness as he ages – but will kill anything smaller than he. That characteristic would be psychotic in a human being, but defines a cat.

I’ve never seen him pee on my apples or crap in my garden, so he is – in that catlike manner – returning my respect. Or so I like to think. If I am realistic he probably regards me as an occasional source of food and gruffly masculine tummy rubs but is indifferent to my opinion of him. He has repeatedly tried to get into my house after one successful raid. We are now engaged in a cat and man game, which he believes he will win. He is seeking to wear me down with persistence, but I have owned many dogs who knew more about persistence than any creature living or dead when it came to precise feeding and walking times, so he will be disappointed.

For some reason he has a liking for my garage and is often locked in for long periods of time. We have a thriving community of field mice to keep him entertained, but I think it may be an attempt to show me how easy my garage is. Logically, that ties in with his belief that my house will one day be his.

He has no remorse, no sense of guilt when some small creature is struggling in his jaws, little understanding or sympathy with anything living and zero interest in anything with which he has played and which has now stopped moving.

So, why do I respect William the cat?

Because he is being a cat.

It’s what cats do. He has no choice.

I respect human beings who tell the truth, help others, attempt to raise mankind from the gutter and try to behave in a kindly manner to their neighbours for a similar, but perhaps not the same, reason.

Not all humans behave like that. Some of William is built into our DNA and we occasionally behave badly towards our fellows.

The difference is that we have a choice. We can think rationally about whether it is a good idea to kill people smaller, weaker, less intelligent than, or different from, ourselves.

There are exceptions, of course. The sociopathic or psychotic personality may have no choice, but we do.

My previous post was about Truth and this is a (sort of) continuation. My belief is that there is nothing to be gained by being unpleasant or violent to strangers and that it is a part of our journey to the status of rational beings for us to be kind to people – do unto others and all that.

Of course, if they attack you with a machete then one should adopt the William attitude and either run away or get a bigger machete.

My own journey through life tells me that most people harbour few truly evil thoughts towards others. Occasionally, hatred will spring up in the fight for sex, resources or survival (perceived or real) but unless there is a continuing need for the above then it often dies away and people (mostly) play nice, or at least become tolerant.

So, as William wanders past with something furry clamped in his jaws I wonder how I would feel trapped in behaviours I cannot control, without choice and destined to repeat the same patterns, again and again.

Got to stop now. It’s 12.30pm, time for my Ploughman’s Lunch, a short walk, the BBC News, a nap at 1.27pm for exactly 21 minutes and a quick chase around the garden looking for small rodents or baby birds to eat.

Unless William has been there before me.

That’s the problem with writing, and usually with living: one has to get into character.

 

 

About J.D.Hughes

Fiction writer. New, quite scary, Supernatural Horror Mystery AND SOON THE SONG, just released (March 2014). Internationally acclaimed Supernatural Thriller, NORTHMAN, on Amazon and three dark short stories BOMBER, ISSUE 49 and THE 500 on Amazon and Smashwords. New novel to be published November 2014 (if the ghosts don't interfere!)
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28 Responses to WILLIAM THE CAT

  1. Brian says:

    Fascinating treatise. Willaim here is more developed and better described than the characters of several stories I’ve read. My rivalry is with the family dog, except she plays dumb.

  2. J.D.Hughes says:

    Hello Brian, thanks for stopping by and your comments. You know your dog well when you say she ‘plays’ dumb. One only has to ask who is feeding whom!

  3. MarkG says:

    This is an awesome post, JD. My respect for you increases the more I read you and the metaphor of William the Cat is a brilliant choice. I hate bloody cats but I’m almost liking William in a perverse way! Why don’t you make William posts a regular feature of your blog?

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Sounds like a good idea, Mark. William’s behaviour is endlessly fascinating and as you point out the contrast with human behaviour is open to metaphor. I just wish I could be as patient with writing as William is with stalking a blue tit!

  4. Mike says:

    I wish I could write a post as good as that it’s a talent that’s for sure how do you do it can someone learn content is king this is we’re I fail big time thanks for the tweet

  5. JJ says:

    Enjoyed your vicious feline! Also enjoyed your use of metaphor. Great post.

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Cheers JJ.

      I wonder if William can be classed as vicious? If he is behaving naturally for a cat then other cats would think he was doing his thing (if cats think along those lines). Of course, his behaviour looks vicious to us humans because there are no ‘clean’ weapons of mass destruction involved, just nature red in tooth and claw. What do you think?

  6. Susan Pound says:

    Enjoyed your post.
    Cats will be cats. That’s why I’ve told my husband that he shouldn’t put up birdfeeders (even if the view is better) where the cat likes to sit outdoors. It’s not fair to invite the birds for lunch, if it’s quite like they will BE the lunch.

    Exactly 21 minutes?

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Welcome, Susan. Glad you enjoyed William! As I write, he is looking through the window with a fairly pompous expression. There are wood pigeons on the roof and I think he expects the provision of a ladder.

      ‘Cats will be cats’ explains all. I quite agree that birds should not be lured into becoming involuntary cat food. I’m sure you know as an owner that cats are quite capable of killing unaided. Like humans, but without choice in the matter.

      21 minutes? I lied. Sometimes it’s 22. Not only cats have behavioural patterns ;)

  7. Raani York says:

    Oh, I think I just fell in love with your description of William. It’s a great blog post – even more since I’m a huge cat fan; sorry… I am a fan of cats in a huge kind of way… LOL – But I guess you know what I mean. – I will continue reading your blog – I do like your writing style!

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      I rather like the idea of a huge cat, Raani! Thank you so much for your kind comments.

      William is a force of nature and usually diverts me from actually writing – which I believe is his intention as an agent of the devil. But as the devil has the best tunes, so does William have the most diverting behaviours, so I can journey to the dark side once in a while :)
      JD

  8. Roxie says:

    not a bad piece from a self-described loather of cats…means you must be a decent writer, eh? hehehe ;)

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Welcome, Roxie and thank you for your post! I have a confession. William the cat ghost writes the blog for me, so I will pass your comments on. He will be insufferable for days.

      Personally, I am not a fan of his writing style – too catocentric and with a tendency to anthropomorphosism, but he is cheap, although incapable of using a keyboard with any degree of accuracy :)

  9. J.D.Hughes says:

    True. I indavertently left an Oxford English Dictionary in the shed, so I have to assume that is from whence his apparent scholarship came! I will leave a Chinese dictionary and see if Mandarin appears in his lexicon.

  10. George Maltese says:

    Just read “Issue 49″ really liked it Mr Hughes, looking forward to reading more of your works.
    The cat looks nasty, I am a lover of dogs. The picture of the cat is great.
    Have a good one Mr. H

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Thank you for your kind comments about “Issue 49″, George, and welcome to my blog. I hope you like the others, too!

      I’ve been a dog owner since a boy, so I understand your preference. William is not my cat, but a local opportunist who believes – as all cats do – that the world was made for him. I’m currently dogless, so he has my attention for the moment; I find his behaviour intriguing, but I will let him know you were impressed with his picture, if not him personally!

      If you post again, which I hope you will, please call me JD – we’re all friends here.

  11. Pingback: THE CASE OF THE MISSING NOVEL | J.D. HUGHES

  12. ~Sia McKye~ says:

    “if they attack you with a machete then one should adopt the William attitude and either run away or get a bigger machete”

    Gotta say, I like William’s style. The person whose house he will eventually sleep curled up on the sofa, isn’t bad either. :-)

    Sia McKye’s Thoughts…OVER COFFEE

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      On behalf of William, thank you, Sia, and on my behalf, welcome to my humble blog.

      William never sleeps; there are always small creatures to be murdered. Fortunately, I have avoided the same habit, but repeatedly eject a field mouse (the same one, I think) from the kitchen with a few hard words and the promise of an occasional brazil nut :)

  13. dmculpepper says:

    Hi there J.D.,
    What a wonderful post.
    “Because he is being a cat. It’s what cats do. He has no choice.”
    A neighborhood here in San Jose, CA has become the new hunting ground for local coyotes. I read a story in the newspaper of a family whose cherished cat was found gutted in the neighbor’s front yard (with only the fur left on its paws). While I felt sorry for their loss, it wasn’t as if the neighborhood kids had tortured it to death. Death of a cat (that is not kept indoors) by coyote or wolf or raccoon, etc. is a very natural occurrence. Your words above describe many creatures out there.
    “The difference is that we have a choice. We can think rationally about whether it is a good idea to kill people smaller, weaker, less intelligent than, or different from, ourselves.”
    Yes, we do. I just wish more humans would make the right choice!
    Cheers!

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Good to see you here, my friend and thanks for your comments!

      Yesterday, off the coast of Fife, Scotland, a pod of pilot whales did their thing and tried to walk on the land. They became stranded, of course. Volunteers from many miles away turned up to refloat them and point them out into the North Sea. William would have waited until they were dead and yippee, here come dinner! On second thoughts, perhaps he would have ignored them since they were unmoving and didn’t trigger his instinctual urge to kill.

      When people do things like this it warms the cockles of my cynical old heart. But, I am always saddened when that same glorious, human instinct to help weaker creatures or creatures in distress is not extended to other humans. It make me wonder if some people are unaware that they have a choice.

  14. Jeff Faria says:

    I like your blog a lot, J.D. This was a sound analogy. The cat has earned respect by being what he was designed to be. What are we meant to be? If we are meant to be creatures of meaning and value, why do we settle for so much less? And if our lives in fact HAVE no intrinsic meaning, whose fault is that, really? Yeah – there’s no escaping it, is there?

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Welcome and thanks, Jeff, I can return the compliment about yours (I have lurked there a few times)!

      The old question – involving philosophy, theology and many more ‘osophys and ‘ologys – is, as you say, what are we meant to be? Humans, unlike cats, are contradictory in behaviour. The man who helps the homeless turns out to be a serial killer; the lovely woman with a kind heart and a fondness for puppies marries Adolph Hitler. Angels and demons in one persona. Perhaps that’s the way the exam goes, if we believe that animals are mechanical devices and only humans have a divine spark.

      As you say, there is no escaping from what we are, but deciding exactly what that is remains the conundrum. Perhaps it’s why writers write and artist paint: it’s the only way to touch the infinite and get some answers, no matter how flawed.

      • Jeff Faria says:

        Hemingway said, ‘First, write one true thing.’ (Or something like that.) It’s a toxic world, and it’s so poisoned that people can’t recognize truth. How could they if they’ve never seen it – even inside themselves? Yet, they look for it anyway. Maybe we’re made that way. They settle for a lot of substitutes, a lot of halfway measures. Once in awhile something real and lasting does show up, and it shocks folks, at least at first. It’s too rare, we’re not prepared, we have no mechanism to cope. We try to take the shocking thing and make it ‘safe’ and acceptable in this flawed world. Maybe we tune out its most significant meaning. We’re all saturated with message and starved for meaning. The great stuff is ‘inspired’. It has something – a spirit, something from beyond – in it, or it was shaped by that unknown quantity. I know a lot of writers who are following the rules and turning out a product, ’cause it’s actually a good time (business-wise) to be a writer. But once in a while there’s someone who’s got something by the tail and is writing or painting or whatever because he knows if he doesn’t, the damn thing will get away and he may never see it again. That’s the guy you look for.

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        This reminds me of a conversation I had with a young friend of mine on the subject of originality. He maintained every idea was the product of every idea that went before. I maintained that occasionally ideas come along that have another dimension and are not simply an aggregation of past ideas. That would be your ‘spirit from beyond’.

        Like you, I read a lot of worthy work that is lacking something despite being perfectly edited and well-written. There is a sense of deja-vu in many novels and I think that is what both you and my young friend are talking about. There are a lot of novels out there but few have any actual meaning and are made insipid by fear of doing something differently. Your Hemingway quote should be drummed into all fiction writers before any attempt is made to write a single word.

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