There is a clear winner in this household after Lunel died. Our other cat, Shiraz, was victim of bullying by Lunel. She accepted her lower status by retreating to rooms Lunel deemed unworthy occupying. Most of those rooms were unoccupied by humans as well. Therefore Shiraz was mostly invisible to us humans. After Lunel died, and even in the last few months when Lunel was clearly too old to respond to Shiraz’s presence, she started reclaiming the house, seeking our company. So at last, at the respectable age of fifteen, she can finally sit on our laps as much as she wants. Or at least as much as the humans allow her to.
The doorbell rang. Not an uncommon sound these days, as shopping online became the norm in this household again. Sinterklaas’ gift bag for Daughter needs to be filled on December fifth and therefore the past few weeks, anticipating on a surge in online orders and thus delivery delays, the past few weeks the doorbell rang on a daily basis. I’m still waiting for the last of the packages to arrive. I got up from my desk, walked downstairs and found a package in the door. The package was small enough to fit through the mailbox, but certainly bigger than what I ordered. I grabbed the package and opened the door. I saw the delivery man walking back to his van, his back towards me. After closing the door I looked at the name on the package. It’s addressed to me. Sent from an unknown place in Paris. I put the package on the dining table. I had a meeting to prepare, so opening it had to wait.
Just before dinner I had the time to open the package. I ripped open the cardboard and found a book inside, wrapped in brown paper. I removed the paper and saw this.
A beautiful book with fourty drawings inside. My French is rusty, so I was glad to find the English translation of Rilke’s text to introduce the drawings. The drawings are from Balthus and tell the story of how he found a cat, Mitsou. The boy took him in, traveled with him and then lost him. It dawned on me that a reader of this blog sent me this gift, because only a reader of this blog would know about the passing of dear Lunel. And I know of one particular reader that has been shopping in France, from his home in Canada.
My favorite image in the book is of the cat presenting a mouse to Balthus. It reminds me of all the mice Lunel brought home in Enschede. It also reminds me of the cats that I knew before Lunel that brought mice to my parents’ home. In my interpretation of cats, this brutal act of presenting humans a living gift is the only way cats acknowledge our effort to feed them and keep them warm. And we humans don’t even appreciate it.
A wonderful gift to turn to whenever I want to reminisce the weird relationships I’ve had with cats.
We have a rule in our household. A fairly simple one. Cats are not allowed on the dinner table. As is the case with all rules in life, it is prone to variations in interpretation. In this case there is a very specific distinction of interpretation between the species. The human interpretation is something like this:
Cats are not allowed on the dinner table in any way. Not to take a short cut, not for taking a nap, and especially not for left-over snooping.Human interpretation of the no cats on dinner table rule.
The cats in our household are very much aware of human interpretation of this rule. Yet, their interpretation is a bit different
Cats are not allowed on the dinner table when humans are watching.Cat interpretation of the no cats on the dinner table rule
The cat interpretation of this rule is the one that is mostly followed in this household. I don’t want to be inter-species role defining, but in this case I think saying cats will be cats is allowed. So whenever I approach the kitchen and the dinner table I often hear a cat jump off of it (or the kitchen counter, same rule, same interpretations).
And in some cases the cats find a loophole: