Chances are you saw the news item last week about the cat that rescued a little boy from an attacking dog. It shows a side of cat behavior that often surprises people, but which is actually not all that uncommon. Cats are loyal, and even protective of those they consider family, and there are many instances of cats coming to the rescue. In Homer’s Odyssey, Gwen Cooper’s memoir about her blind cat, Homer attacks a man who breaks into her apartment and threatens her. Cats have alerted their families when fires break out in their homes and saved owners suffering medical emergencies. Cats can be as devoted and heroic as the next critter. Maybe more.
Well, some of them. Not my cats.
My cats are funny, often affectionate, and they insist on being involved in many of my daily activities. Courageous they are not. The other day, Sparkle was eating lunch and I made the unfortunate choice of using that moment to test the carbon monoxide alarm. With the first shrill beep, she vanished, her food abandoned without a second thought. Binga will happily greet any strangers who come to our door and instantly make friends. But once the dog walker showed up with a stray pooch she had found wandering in the middle of the street and left it in my care for an hour. Binga was deathly afraid of it. Did I mention that this dog probably weighed less than four pounds? Let’s not even talk about Boodie, who disappears under the bed or behind the desk at the sound of the vacuum cleaner. Or the doorbell. Or for just about any loud noise or strange happening. My cats are unapologetic, unabashed cowards.
My soul cat, Harlot, was no better than these three. She expected me to protect her, not the other way around. On top of that, she had lousy taste in men, and the worse a guy was for me, the more she kissed up to him.
What about when I’m sick? Do my cats alert the paramedics, or at least my fiancé? Nope. They avoid me like they think I’m going to give them whatever illness I have. Granted, part of this stems from my being fussy, noisy and decidedly unpleasant to be around when I’m sick, but still. They aren’t even drawn to me when I have a fever – and cats are normally heat-seeking creatures. They just don’t care – so long as I am able to crawl out of bed and give them breakfast and dinner.
So I am embarrassed to admit that although there are cat heroes in the world, and sometimes they make the news, mine fall far short of this ideal. But then, maybe they haven’t been put to a real test. There was that one time Sparkle showed a surprising moment of courage when she tried to protect Binga at the vet’s office. And while Binga ignores my physical ailments, she is in tune to any emotional turmoil. And even if my cats will never be lauded across the internet or on the evening news for a daring act, they do save me from boredom on a daily basis. It’s not newsworthy, but it does count for something.