I had always considered myself a ‘dog person’, although when I delved into what the mainstream considers dog people to be, the ‘generally outgoing, extroverted, and easy to get along with’ descriptor did not entirely sound like me. So when I came across the description that ‘someone who values alone time and needs a lot of it, is more of a cat person’, it made much sense.
The fact that cats are independent, and tend to want or demand less physical attention from you than dogs, made further sense.
By then I had already been a cat owner for a few years and hence, the protagonist of today’s story is Luna, my cat. I dedicate this piece to her; ergo, she is my inspiration.
Luna is four human years old. In cat years’ terms that would place her in the mid-30s; hence she would be considered an adult but not as yet a senior cat. Derived from the Latin, Luna in Italian and Spanish means moon. I do not understand why my children decided to call her Luna; to me, she is not moonlike at all. It may be that she appeared half-moonlike to the children when they first brought her home as a kitten when she was a month and a half old. I was away from home on an international work trip and I did not get to see her till she was closer to two months of age. The reason why she was transitioned to the Mian abode while the putative patriarch was away, is a story for another day. Suffice it to say, it may have had something to do with the father being hesitant to keep any pet, especially since the kids were unwilling to show responsibility in taking care of the said pet, with the dad having to pick up the slack all the time. There was the prior experience of keeping ‘The Biscuit’ (also named by the kids), a frisky eight-week-old golden Labrador pup, and having to return him within a few months because of an unforeseen circumstance (aka destruction and mayhem of the patriarch’s prized garden/plants). That recent memory was invoked time and again, in the interim, to refrain from any new pet(s) being entrenched in the family.
Having said that, this story is really about Luna the pussy, so let’s focus on her. Luna is a Persian tortoiseshell-and-white (per the sub-species nomenclature) beauty. Like other Persians (cats), she is regal and pompous – more queen-like than moonlike.
Perhaps Queen or ‘Her Majesty’ would have been more appropriate names for her. Given the past dog/puppy The Biscuit, the future cat/kitten Her Majesty would have indicated better follow through on naming, I believe, despite species differences.
Luna has this confounding habit of either playing dead or hard to get. For the cat people out there: have you ever tried to pet your cat but every time you come near, it runs away? The same tends to happen on your second attempt, albeit your cat will watch you closely, daring you to approach, and the moment you do so, it will run away and even disappear under your bed or behind a sofa. Luna is no different. In fact, on the third attempt, she will likely lunge at you, leaving an angry red mark on your arm that was extended to pet her. However, once I am deep in my own work, focused on it as if my life depended on it, Luna magically appears out of nowhere and jumps onto my desk or lap, whatever she prefers then, and parks herself there as if that is her birthright. This is almost like me chasing something, or someone (can be in a dream), but the moment I stop chasing it, it comes to me. This law of reversed effort is intriguing and it has been described in several philosophical texts. It makes me wonder if Luna and other cats have read and understood those great philosophers and philosophies of eons ago. They are clever so I would not put it past them at all. What is more likely though? That those putatively wise humans from a long time ago closely observed cats, learned from them, and then waxed philosophically in the resultant prose or poetry.
Luna has that catlike detached curiosity about her. Why is that surprising or worth writing about you ask? You see, Luna takes that curiosity to the next level; where it might even kill her, hence she will be proving that idiom beyond doubt. She closely observes everything and everyone from the corner of her eye; be it alive or inanimate. She tricks you into thinking that she is bored by or disinterested in what she is observing. But that is just a façade. If the object of her dispassionate interest moves even a fraction of an inch, she would have minutely anticipated the next movement, and if in the mood she will pounce on the said object. For such potentialities, it may be safer to recall ‘hell hath no fury like a Luna scorned’.
How do I tell if my cat loves me? I think she does because I have dared to look into her eyes resembling limpid pools; with wide pupils that simply suck you in and drown you within.
And rather than me looking into her eyes, I get the feeling that it is really the opposite. That she is the one looking into and through me and reaching my innermost consciousness. At such moments I am convinced that Luna is the most sentient lifeform ever. Perhaps even more than me. Those early morning moments when it is just me and her awake, are indeed most precious. As I go about switching off lights, she follows me around the house. If I sit, she jumps onto my lap; or she lets me pick her up, without any reservations on her part. It is at those moments that she and I are truly one unit. Luna teaches me that solitude is okay and that there is no need to fear loneliness even. At such profound moments, I am quite sure that ‘the secret, hidden or inner lives of cats’ is the treatise I need to work on next.
While drafting an outline for this essay, I recalled one of the most famous cats of all time – Macavity the Mystery Cat. This is the fictional protagonist in T. S. Eliot’s 1939 poetry book ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. That book, and cat per se, was the inspiration for the famous Broadway musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber that debuted in 1981 and it remains a box office success since then. Below is an excerpt from the poem:
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity. … Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
There was a time when I would have considered Luna having a lot of those Macavity-like negative attributes per T.S. Eliot’s verses above. However, the converse is likely truer, i.e. I do not think Luna is deceitful or a monster of depravity; but suavity, yes. Nor is she a feline fiend. Now could it be that Macavity being a he, makes him all those nefarious things versus Luna being a she is not?
To conclude, the best description of my cat was found serendipitously in the likes of Urban Dictionary and Quora. I came across the question: what phrase exemplifies the most important person in your life – someone who would be your ride-or-die person? Interestingly, the answer listed there was Mi Luna (Spanish for my moon).
Although an ER physician, researcher, and innovator-intrapreneur at the Aga Khan University, Asad’s proclivity for writing is his means of creative exploration and expression. His articles on healthcare, education, innovation, children, humor, and popular culture have appeared in newspapers in the US and in Pakistan. Other than the fictional Biloongra series of bilingual books for children, he has authored 'An Itinerant Observer' a book of brief narratives first published in the US in 2014 which was reprinted by Bookgroup in Pakistan in 2020. His first non-fiction popular science book on low-cost creative innovation and entrepreneurship, 'MEDJACK', hit virtual and physical bookstands in 2021.