Why do we love cats? The indispensable Encyclopedia of New Zealand has some learned, if obvious, answers. But today, I thought I'd offer a set of less mainstream reasons.
I also thought I'd provide illustrations - lots of them. In their own persuasive way, they answer the question I posed.
We love cats because of that look they give us, you know, when we're looking at them. It's a look of grudging patience and edgy indulgence, a look that's a little off to the side. It's well performed here by cover-cat James (of whom we will see more later).
This look is often seen first thing in the morning, when any cat a) wants food, b) wants to love you, and c) wants to be left alone to sleep a while longer. Oh, the unresolvable conflict. This is Bella's morning face.
This is Loki; such mystery.
We love how ornamental our cats are. And well they know it, going by how often they pose on the most conspicuous platform in the room. This is Luca, alongside the other succulents.
We love those faces full of character, such as Miss Minnie's.
There's the special spotless, uncamouflageable beauty of a white cat - like Macie.
Then there's that most admirable of feline traits, inherent dignity. Boss is all grace and grandeur.
Chairman Meow is all elegance.
Ed possesses effortless charisma.
Silky greets the day with the most decorous of yawns.
Mac chases flies with athletic artistry.
We love the way cats sleep - usually contained and concentrated, but sometimes with inhibitions and vanity kicked away. Sandy is a regal sleeper.
Billie appreciates luxury.
Here's Sandy again, in possession of the whole couch.
A big part of a cat's magnetism is its air of cool command, even in less-than-elegant settings. You can tell from Sally's expression that she'd never be caught dead in with the socks.
Riley rules from the fruit bowl.
Cats are so discerning about what they'll eat, and so scrupulous about dental care. This is Rasafeh.
Cats also have excellent reading habits. Here, Einstein stays up to date with important news developments.
Is this Moon Landing's wave hello, or goodbye? Or merely his Paw of Command? Whatever it is, it's another reason to love him. Also, don't you love that cats seem to lend themselves to names like Moon Landing?
As promised, another view of cover-cat James. This is pretty lovable, though I can't decide on a word for it. Upward Cat?
We cat owners love how a cat will seek out the sun, roast itself in it, and become even more worthy of a cuddle as a result. This is Silky again, groggy with heat.
Cats have lovable quirks. This is Bhutas, and her owner says: "Whenever Bhutas is mad at us being late, we often arrive home to some kind of punishment. Most of the time it is our kitchen mat dragged out of place into the corner or down the hall ... He then lies on the floor expecting pats." Bhutas' eyes are extraordinary too.
We love the luxuriance of a longhair like Tinsel.
When two cats are together, the adorableness quotient rockets. This is Miesha and Nellie playing yin and yang.
And when four cats are together, the adorableness quotient is shattered and defibrillators are required. This shelf-full of cute comprises Alicia, Leo, Albert and Stefan.
The question shouldn't be "why do we love cats?" but "how couldn't we love cats?" When we see the face of a beautiful, well-loved, peaceful cat, it just makes (most of) us feel good, as though we're programmed to connect with them and they're programmed to raise our spirits. Isabella melts your heart.
Mimi lifts your mood.
Phoebe cancels all your regrets.
Bosley makes you forget your troubles.
Stanley makes you want to give up your job and become an artist.
Finally, 18-year-old Oliver makes you want to smile for the rest of the day. Well, he has that effect on me, anyway.
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