Doodle art by Laura Lee Donoho

Nicholas Wade comes to the defense of cats in John Tierney’s blog. He writes:

Cat-lovers, to arms, or at least to pen! A litany of unwarranted aspersions on our feline companions is to be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an otherwise objective publication.

Cats “are more attached to places than people” is the first calumny.

“Cats do not perform directed tasks,” is the second.

It gets worse. “Their actual utility is debatable, even as mousers.”

These deplorable judgments are part of the authors’ thesis that cats took a different route to domestication than did other domestic animals.


Science, in its very essence, judges facts, not love. When Science attempts to enter that unknowable realm, it fails. Those who know the love of a cat have the experiential knowledge no scientist can comprehend. That is, unless they have their own cat at home. I much prefer poets, writers and philosophers when it comes to explaining the cat. Take Mark Twain, for instance. He said this, of cats:

A home without a cat - and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat - may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?

Mark Twain

Pudd’nhead Wilson

Yes, our late Captain loved his Poppy best. He would not allow anyone to hold him on the shoulder except for his Poppy. Our home is still bereft of the meows, purrs and love of this magnificent cat and it always will be.

And yes, Captain kept the mice at bay.


Our late cat, Abbey was attached more to her people than her places, despite the notions of the scientists at the National Academy. Abbey was especially attached to our children and very protective of them. Our first winter at Fort Drum, New York was very hard on our health. We had moved from the tropical land of Panama to freezing New York and didn’t seem to have any immunity to the viruses that bore down on us.

Our daughter, Charlotte became very ill with a horrible sore throat and high fever. Abbey liked warmth, that is true but I don’t believe that was the reason she stayed so close to Charlotte. She kept vigil with her even after the fever broke and until Charlotte recovered. A few days later, Abbey fell ill. She became so sick we were afraid we would lose her. The vet didn’t know what was wrong with her and couldn’t tell us whether she had caught the virus from Charlotte but we knew that must have been the case. Abbey was an inside cat, despite the photo above. She recovered in a week and resumed her loving ways.

When our oldest daughter, Kate married, Abbey went with her and lived happily with Kate and her husband until she died of a stroke. She is still missed.


Then, there is Sabby.

We have had the privilege of sharing our many homes with him for sixteen years. He is a North Country cat, born in Watertown, New York and at one time our family was run by a triumvirate of cats, Captain, Sabby and Abbey. Sabby is the most possessive cat we have ever had. He is very intense but extremely loving. He’s also an incredibly intuitive and intelligent cat.

He uses his ability to “perform” to get our attention. Sabby likes to flip paper and paper box lids. He is ambidextrous at this activity and will perform this directed task every time it is requested. I suppose he does this because he chooses to but he also basks in the attention it gets him. Earlier in the year I had surgery and complications and spent twenty days in the hospital. When I returned home it was obvious that Sabby had missed me. He was definitely happy that I was home and wouldn’t leave my side. I awoke at night and discovered that he was staring at me and possibly checking my breathing.

I am Sabby’s pet.

He is very protective of me. He loves me. Scientists have no idea about the love domesticated cats can give.

Eighty million Americans do.

Sissy Willis does.

We who are the lucky ones,

we who love cats,

shall ne’er lack their love in return.

And gentlemen at the National Academy of Sciences

now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed

They know not cats.

Sorry, Will.


Ahh. There’s the Friday Ark for all of us who love and are loved by these magical creatures.