Purrfect Bonds

In Ancient Egypt, Egyptians knelt down before small creatures, treating them as gods as they smothered them with expensive trinkets and royal treats. In response, they would be granted ‘good luck,’ as the animals before them: cats, purred in deep pleasure. For 3000 years cats have been treasured by humans. Once seen as ‘magical beings’ descended from the Cat Goddess Bastet, cats in the modern world often find themselves in the modern family household. Aquatic Science Teacher, Marie Lamkin, explains how she, as an experienced cat owner, has always had a deep connection with cats.

“I never had a pet when growing up and I’m a cat person. Although I have a dog, the connection that I have with my cats is completely different. I’ve had numerous cats over the course of my adulthood. I have 4 cats right now, with most of them being rescued, which I do because they need a place to live in comfort. I have a 15 year old, who’s mother I took in because her past owners abandoned her when they moved. I also have a cat we rescued from the hood of my friend’s car. And most recently, I adopted a kitten from one of my students this year. My daughter is currently with another of my cats in college, but they’ll be returning to me in July. They’re a little rambunctious so my house will get chaotic again, but I love them and I look forward to having them in the house again. Cats have always been so significant throughout my adult life,” said Lamkin.

Similarly to how Egyptians viewed cats, Lamkin sees them through a lens of love. Lamkin relays how cats have made such an impact on her daily life.

Bagherra, Lamkin’s cat, sleeps soundly on her lap. Bagherra has been living comfortably with Lamkin ever since she received him from a friend.

“Cats are my companions. I do not think I’d be able to stay stable in my house without them. I never feel alone when a cat is around because they are there when you wake up, there when you go to bed, and when you get home from work. Last year, something really personal happened to me, and my cats offered their love to me. The softness of a cat was really soothing and comforting for me.  They know when you’re in distress or when you are sad. To me, I’m not giving them a home; they are my home. They are my family and so they’re a part of me,” stated Lamkin.

Media depicts cats in different perceptions that may differ from our own. In one such case, Garfield, the ginger cat is seen with a great desire to eat lasagna and of course, a pure hatred of mondays, rather than deep love for his owner Jon Arbuckle. Senior, Sarah Dawaseh, dives into the common misconceptions about cats, and how to build a relationship with one.

“I have two precious cats who are just silly guys. They make me so happy and I don’t know what I would do without them. I have seen them grow up over the years, which is such a fun process, but it takes a lot. There is a lot of training, cleaning, and petting. I would say cats are like any other pet except more independent. They are like my children, I know it is a bit cheesy but they are. I think hating cats is a huge red flag because some people simply do not respect cats boundaries, and do not know how to properly interact or care for them. I think everyone should take the chance to get to know a cat at some point. As long as you’re respectful, cats usually are lovey dovey and reciprocate. If you are not kind, then they can be stoic and distant. Cats have emotions too!,” said Dawaseh.

Actually, some cats serve as therapy animals, similarly to ‘comfort’ dogs, cats have a strong sense of instinctual empathy towards those who may need it. Many people who are suffering from trauma and other conditions can look towards animals like cats to pour their hearts into. Freshman Sophia Garrels has held a deep yearning for a cat for quite some time, as they carry a sense of calmness that is unmistakable. Garrels points out how personality between animals such as cats and dogs, are a myriad of differences.

Plum (Ivory Cat on the Left) and Bowser (Tabby Cat on the Right) groom one another. Dawaseh’s cats still act like kittens! (Courtesy to Sarah Dawaseh )

“I have always wanted a cat because they’re super homely and friendly, not that I do not appreciate my dogs, but they are very loud and I am not great with noise. It would be nice to have a change of pace and have a quieter home. I think cats have really good companionship, especially if you have mental health issues, as they can comfort you. You cannot really box all cats together because alike humans, cats are all different with their own personalities. Cats have their own unique traits that separates them from others. So each cat that enters your life will not always be the same. That is why I think ‘what’s better, cats or dogs?’ is a silly argument. I like both cats and dogs, as they are both special in their own individual way; although I do value a cat’s quiet presence slightly more,” stated Garrels.

Not all cat lovers can own a cat because of health, personal, or financial reasons. Biology teacher, Charlie Martin, is an all-around animal lover who enjoys cats, but cannot have one in his home.

“The truth is, I can’t have a cat because of litter boxes. I cannot stand the smell, clean it, or even be remotely around it. In my family we’re all big animal people, we have had many different animals over the years, including cats. We only have dogs right now, but I still like cats a lot; my past ones were pretty affectionate after all. Although I do not really like the maintenance that is involved with owning one, I think it is worth having a relationship with one. Honestly, I think people should just stick to what makes you happy, even if it’s only dogs or vice versa,” said Martin.

Animals have been used for benefits since the dawn of humanity. Whether it be for food, transportation, or physical power, humans have found purpose for many different creatures. Some people view Household pets, like cats, in a similar way. Martin believes that the core of this lies in people’s ability to make sense of everything around them–according to what they have grown up with.

“I think in more rural areas people see cats as more functional rather than as pets. My brother for example keeps cats around strictly to keep mice away. I know my grandad always saw dogs as just a functional creature, so he would not even take them to the vet. He believed that they simply served a purpose. From generation to generation it is changing, in my opinion, as a younger generation it is changing for the better. I think every generation sees their way as the right way. When I see animals I see too much of their personalities. I could not imagine treating my dogs as just a tool to do a job,” stated Martin.

Brax, a tabby cat with ‘white sock paws,’ basks in the sunlight. (Courtesy to Erin Boggs )

Sophomore Sophie Blackburn finalizes how people and cats, while very different, can have a beautiful bond with one another.

“People and cats can have a connection because they are reserved, and so if they are interacting with you, it means that they are choosing to be with you. Cats do not want to hangout all the time, sometimes they want to sunbathe or play with other cats. When they’re hanging out with you, it is so special,” said Blackburn.

Ultimately, cats may hold a sense of power. Similarly to how they were worshiped for their luck, they are now revered by many for their kind, cuddly, and loving nature. When one hears a purr, or a sweet sounding ‘meow’  it may be fitting to label it as a reassurance that a cat is there to make sure you’re ‘feline good.’