“That cat’s something I can’t explain,” Syd Barrett sings, and it seems that Syd refers to a definite human affair, to an era that is identified, with abandon, in one of the animals certainly not known for scrupulousness and understanding towards the neighbour. Syd is afraid, he feels that the situation is unclear, that all that purring and rubbing ask for something in return, his mind, his own life. Still, everyone dealt or owns and has owned a cat in their lives — as of 2017, the domestic cat was the second-most popular pet in the US by number of pets owned, after freshwater fish —, and perhaps the bombardment of feline pictures, especially on the social networks, is not just a symptom of the indifference of our time. It can’t be like this.
Although I own a cat too, and after so many years I’m still completely softened and fascinated by it, I’ve always suspected of those who even go so far as to venerate them, proposing little credible interpretations of their typical smartass characteristics. Always suspected of cat behaviorists like a Jackson Galaxy who uses television shows called My Cat from Hell to recommend drugs to the poor demoniacs and exorcise them with kibble — not so far from Medieval theories which claimed that they were cruel creatures in league with the Devil and witches.
While in ancient times they were adored — Egyptians worshiped cats as goddesses and even mummified them, and Romans celebrated their independence — medieval Europeans had some trouble with them. Historian Irina Metzler argues that the independent nature of cats caused anxiety for those kind of minds. In the early 15th century, Edward, the Duke of York, used to talk about them this way: “Their falseness and malice are well known. But one thing I dare well say that if any beast has the devil’s spirit in him, without doubt it is the cat, both the wild and the tame.”
Although today a certain intolerance towards the more independent natures would seem to be getting closer and closer to the medieval one, there are still no significant testimonies of cat burnings. And maybe this is why you can’t but admire the bizarre being of these creatures, their elegant ability to pass over everything and to adapt to every situations without blinking an eye. Their kind-of-ironic way to be surprised, just for a moment, of some behavior or behaviorist but, in the end, always returning on their own steps.