Of Cats and Men

What’s not to love right?

My Cat and I, Jasper Dean

The two things that are, and one day will be, most important to me feature heavily in this book of short stories by Nina de Gramont.  I picked this book up, 1. because I wanted to attend Wilmington for my MFA and 2. because with a title like that I knew there would have to be a short story written squarely about me, and my cat, Jasper.  While what I found dealt mainly with the Cape Cod area and all of the women were befuddled and in transition (much like me actually) only a few of the stories really struck a cord the way a good story should.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t like this book, I did.  I only loved a few of the stories though.  I think my favorite story was “Human Contact” because it most depicted me.  I’m going to be honest, I can be quite the narcissistic a-hole and so a story that closely resembles my life will always be my favorite.  In “Human Contact” the heroine is in love with a man, who ends up moving and changing lifestyles from guitar-playing-swooner to ranch-hand.  She can’t cope with his new-found, flannel, man-hood and she moves cross country, first with a dog who she saves from the ranch and then, with a cat.  Throughout the story, the dog plays a pivotal role, but it is the cat who finishes the story strong.  It is the cat that saves her from her rut of a man she may love right now, but not forever.  Is is always the cat who saves, is it not?

Obviously, the reigning King.

The rest of the stories range in topics.  I think most people will pick up this book and think it’s a niche book, or a “gimic” because it centers around men and cats.  But, how many books have you read that centered around men?  Isn’t their a whole genre titled: romance, or chick lit, that centers around the man-hunt.  Or, in the case of the romance, a death and kiss you back to health?  But, most of this book can be felt very deeply.  It does center around almost only, actually maybe only female main characters who are coping in some way; some with the birth of their children, others with the loss of their loved one, one woman even the murder of her husband right before her eyes.  They all range in emotional intensity, and story-telling.  A few, I was very wrapped up in and sat at the coffee shop way past my whip cream and coffee was slurped from its plastic cup.  (One included a woman who wore her husband’s shoes to his funeral – what a great story piece, it gives me full imagination to dive right into both of these characters; the husband and the widow).  Then, there were other stories I had to concentrate all my might on just to finish.  Sometimes it’s just not enough being a woman, reading another woman character – sometimes a deeper level of understanding is needed and I didn’t always get that in every short story.  It is a quick read though, especially for a cat lady.

Jasper Muffin

If you are the following kind of person, I urge you to re-evaluate your life and think of yourself from now on as a cat lady, and also read this book.

  1. You prefer porches. (If you’re asking yourself, “to…” then you don’t understand what I’m saying).
  2. You do not like to be in bed alone and/or you have a fear of ghosts (even though your dad sleeps across the hall from you in his creaky bed, with the creepy picture of your grandmother on the bed side table…nobody? Just me? Oh, okay…)
  3. You are always donning a warm blanket when laying on the couch.
  4. You read. (This can by Stephen King, to Peanuts, to Charles Darwin, to Nora Roberts.  Nora Roberts is obviously a dead-ringer though).
  5. Your friends have started realizing you may not marry.  Or you have Emily Dickinson syndrome which means you stay mainly in your room (or an attic) at a desk writing poetry…
  6. You have big hair. It explains itself really.

And then, while googling around with the search, “of cat and men” I found a few gems.  I think my favorite discovery was this one. It claims that the bond between cat lady and cat is real.  If my life could be explained in a short website article – it would be this one.  Let me help you all out: I’m a Capricorn – who’s archetype is the “grandmother,”  I refuse to spend the night at most people’s houses if my cat can’t tag along, and I let him cuddle my head while I sleep.  He eats only the best food, is perfectly manicured, and looks like a mixture of a slinking tiger and a wild mole rat.  (I wish I could claim he looked like a naked mole rat, but I haven’t shaved his luxurious stripes).  Literally, he will run through our kitchen window one day when he speeds down the stairs, disrupts all my mother’s rug laying, and synchronized flowered carpets and runs smack dab into his window perch (can be found at most pet stores), barely missing the glass of the window, and the birds he’s most hoping to chomp on.

Jasper in his favorite place: atop the fridge in the water box.

So, obviously, the thing I liked most about Gramont’s book was her use of cats in every story.  I’m not sure men played such a strong role in every story, but cats never took the background.  From one cat lady to another, I can definitely appreciate a book about the Egyptians Gods.

Did you know:

    • Egyptians who killed cats, accidental or not were always punished by death.
    • In Egyptian mourning rituals, when a cat died in the home, all the people living there would shave their eyebrows.

I found all of this information from this lovely website. You can decide if you personally want to believe in the significance of Cat-God’s in ancient Egypt on your own.

My favorite show that had a cat: Binka (BBC).  Followed closely behind by Catdog because it had a catchy tune and put an end to the argument of which is better, a cat or dog, forever.  It did this by allowing cat to come first in the name, with dog a close second.  (I like dogs, but nothing can replace my spoiled, aloof, mysterious, violent cat).

Here’s my favorite cat video.  (This video was brought to me by CK, who has a sick obsession with Inception, even though he would never admit his secret love of Leo).

WARNING: If you click the videos to the side, under “suggestions,” you will spend two hours with cats, and your own snarky giggles.

7 thoughts on “Of Cats and Men

  1. Jennifer O. (@litendeavors) says:

    When I was living at home with my parents, we had two catds: Sara and Silver. We used to live off a farm road, a few minutes out of our small town of 10,000. A tractor had recently run over my younger puppy, leaving my older dog lonely and restless. One evening it was literally pouring cats and dogs–lightning lit up the sky–it was one of those gorgeous, scary nights. I looked out the bathroom window to see if I could find Rusty, who would wander around all five acres out of boredom, and I saw him a few feet from the window, with something in his mouth. He put it on the ground and softly nudged it and then nuzzled it. I ran outside, thinking it was a rat, or rabbit, something that probably had diseases. Instead it was a newborn cat from a litter belonging to a neighbor about a mile off. Rusty wasn’t going to tolerate loneliness. He needed a friend. That became our little cat, SIlver.

    After leaving home, I was never able to summon that love for cats again. I’m not sure why. But I do love my Border collie to bits.

    I love to read short stories, but it’s always hit or miss with me, and sometimes I’m not able to pinpoint what is missing that made me just not love it.

    • Cassie says:

      And yet, I love this story. I also love Border Collies – bahh such good talks. Thanks for sharing those memories with me! They were wonderful. You need to write a book Jennifer!

  2. bea mannes says:

    I loved this blog!, and I also love cats, even your cat, which is difficult to love. Cats are what all of us humans wish we could be all the time, or at least some of the time; aloof, lazy, crazy, independent, and detached. They come not when called, they love when it suits them, and they eat only what they want, not what you give them. As for CK’s video, loved it!, but it scared me too!

    • Cassie says:

      Thanks lovely lady.

      When I bought him, the shelter had named him “Gaston” because he was so hansome. I changed his name, obviously, but it’s apparent he remembers that because he’s very stuffy.

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