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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cats I Have Known Part Two: Mittens

Cats like Mittens possess dignity so
self-assuredly, they are probably
unaware of having it
Of all the cats we have had, and we have had more than our share, you may be sure, my favorite was Mittens.

Mittens was polydactyl, which meant he had extra toes on his front paws, which stuck out like thumbs.  Since he was a tabby with white feet, the name Mittens was a natural.  Mittens was a very satisfactory cat for reasons I find hard to explain.  Perhaps it was because of all our cats, he was the most cat-like.  He had the sort of languid grace that our other cats - who tended to be on the rotund side - lacked.  Humans, with their posturing, blustering, and posing give the concept of dignity a bad name, but cats have the enviable sort of dignity, dignity without fear of losing dignity.  Cats of Mittens' sort do not worry about their self dignity; they possess it so self-assuredly they are probably unaware of having it.

I have only one story about Mittens, and it's not much of a story, but Mittens was a cat too dignified to lend himself to anecdotes.  We were dog-sitting for a friend of ours.  Our neighbor saw Mittens walking the fence between our yards and asked him, "Has that dog left your house yet?"  And Mittens replied in a plaintive yowl, "Nnaww."

Ernest Hemingway, I understand, also had a polydactyl cat, and Key West is littered - if you'll pardon the pun - with descendants of the original.  I've never been an enormous fan of Hemingway's, but knowing he had a six-toed cat makes me like him better.  Then I read his cat's name was Mr. Pleasure Puss, and I began to like him somewhat less.  But then I read the cat's name was actually Snowball, and I began to like him a little better again.  That's me and Hemingway: his estimation in my eyes goes up and down like a yo-yo.

But my feelings towards Mittens have never changed.  He was a good cat.  He died, evidently attacked by some larger critter.  It was not a nice way to die, but somehow I think Mittens would have preferred it to living into his dotage and finally being put to sleep.  So great was Mittens' dignity, he was no more aware of it, than of his extra toes.

1 comment:

  1. Our cat, Eli, is a polydactyl. He is a Maine Coon cat and I've never experienced another breed as confident and present as he is.