The feline, one of nature’s most fastidious creatures, has some weird and disgusting habits. We find it most surprising for such a neat creature, so obsessed with his good looks he spends more than half of his waking time grooming his pelt to within an inch of absolute perfection, that he could deign himself to stoop to such revolting behaviour as resting his august posterior on a pile of dirty laundry or planting his bewhiskered snout smack into a rotting fish-head. But maybe the cats consider us humans to be the wacky ones ? What’s wrong with appreciating a strong yet succulent aroma ? What’s weird about relishing in the fragrance called Eau de l’Homme ? Are you monkeys nose-blind or what ?
Truth to tell we perhaps are. We rarely use our noses for anything else than sniffing out dinner, a partner or danger. Even smelling at flowers has become a rarity these days when people are more obsessed with how their dens smell than appreciating a flower’s fragrance. We prefer artificial olfactory-habitat-enhancers because flowers go bad after a few days and you have to dispose of the bodies on a regular basis. But that leaves a feline mightily puzzled… to his sensitive little schnozzle all artificial junk reeks the same and usually contains a bewildering plethora of all kinds of stinks jumbled together in a miasma that might please a nose-blind simian but terrorizes the much better equipped animal. Cheap incense gets them running for cover too, I know that for a fact, but usually because it is too concentrated at first. After an hour or two the disgusted felines trot back towards their usual spots and only then do they seem to approve of the atmosphere. Lavender and Sandalwood do have soothing properties after all.
Last week the Mistress opened up a bag of dry food with fish as the main ingredient. Grumpy Man complained of the ensuing stench but if you think it had the cats running for their bowls with relish you’d better think again. The company that makes the stuff adds extra smell in order to attract the customers but usually it attracts only the simian customers. The feline ones won’t care because they know darned well how to distinguish fake from real. If they come anyway it’s because they hear foodstuffs rattling down into their bowls and it might for a change be edible, you never know if a cat gets lucky. They are however very very interested in whatever I’m chopping up on the kitchen counter. If it’s meat and it’s what the simians eat… it must be a cat’s ambrosia.
The dirty laundry though, that’s another story entirely. There a lot of people who consider it utmost disgusting when a beloved feline companion settles down into a pile of worn clothes, stench and all. A man’s socks, his shirt from a hot summer day… the simian faints at the faintest whiff but the feline takes a good deep sniff. And why would he do it ? The answer, and hold on to your garters ‘coz it’s a beaut, is… love. Not the smooch-smooch-I-love-you love, but the I-feel-so-comfortable-with-you and you’re-safety-to-me love. The cat likes familiarity. All day long he spends much effort to impart his own personal odour onto you and your garments. The result is not only that both you and your wardrobe will start smelling slightly like him (to his honker at least, you won’t notice a whiff) and that he starts to recognize your smell as something familiar, something of “home”. It also explains why a cat will always and immediately take up residence on regular visitors’ clothes and bags as soon as he spots them lying around in the house… he wants to make certain that everything will smell like him as soon as possible, and if he actually likes the stranger he wants to pick up some of his/her scent too. It’s all cat-politics you see: if you smell like mine you are mine. “Mine” if familiar. “Mine” is safe. And at the end of the day, when a tired feline friend blissfully immerses himself in the smell of you by sinking down into that pile of dirty laundry, you can hear a contented purr rising slowly from the debris. The Cat Is At Peace With The World.
Trust a cat to sniff out the danger, even in the tiniest amounts present. The other simian denizens of the House of Chaos know when the Mistress has been using Sherry to enhance a delicious sauce in today’s dinner: the cats won’t touch the leftovers. Alcohol is poison to the cats. Likewise they won’t touch chocolate and steer clear of anything that contains caffeine. A cat always checks out his food by elaborately sniffing at it and only when the olfactory warning system has been satisfied that there is no danger present will he settle down and start shoveling the grub. Of course he also likes to experience a good whiff and you can see him enjoying inhaling the wafts gently undulating from warm meat. Zorro can sit next to me on my desk when I’m eating springrolls and his furry little nose twitches with every movement my hand containing the roll makes. You can clearly see him savouring the scents, whiskers quivering with delight, and it just makes your heart melt how he looks when a titbit makes his way towards that furry snout of his. Still he can’t resist giving it the sniff-over treatment before ingesting the proffered morsel. You never know with simians.