Ten thoughts on cats

Last week one of my writing prompts was ten separate thoughts about cats. When I came up with this prompt I figured it would come across quite differently for cat lovers versus everyone else (and of course cats can refer to other things). Here’s what I wrote.


whiskers are the strangest things
thin and limber
when i find one thick and white on the ground
it doesn’t look like a hair, and it doesn’t feel like one
it doesn’t act like one
it’s springy and tensile, like a tiny magic wand,
containing the secret to super cat-senses

if you stare into a cat’s eyes
(if he lets you)
they are glossy orbs you can look into from an angle
like window glass
to try to see the thickness of the transparency
before it meets color

in college i knew a thin dark Asian guy with hair down to his shoulders
a beautiful lithe fellow, a skateboarder i think
“i don’t have heating,” he told me one winter
“i just let my cat sleep on my stomach”

paws flex and curve and bat
so tender and soft-looking, like the most perfect makeup brushes
until you press a pink paw pad
and see the translucent white claw emerge with
that evil hooked curve, like a hawk’s beak
a tiny instrument of death

before a yoga class in berkeley
the talk turned to cats
and how their hair gets everywhere
“i’m still finding hairs from my old cat,” a girl said
“and he died ten years ago”
she unrolled her mat and added
“i don’t even live in the same apartment”

a sleeping cat casts a powerful spell
that fuzzy circle breathing gently up and down
the twitch of a rounded paw
the slow rolling splay of a lazy belly
eyelids so heavy
sunbeam so warm

at a family dinner at hong fu restaurant
one of us made a cat noise
and someone else replied with their own
my cousin’s fiancé turned his head: “why does everyone in this family meow?”

my parents have always had a cat
my other cousin has two, and so does his wife
my sister has two
when i got married, we got two too

“it just happens,” we told him

underneath the cat’s sweet pink nose
above his velvety warm chin
there is a gaping maw of foul odor
called the cat’s mouth
abandon hope all that enter there

unfortunately, what enters there
all too frequently exits from there too
upon the carpet

family is a strange thing, when it comes to cats

snow leopard commands the mountain
heavy muscle
thick coat
long tail thick as my arm
broad paws grip icy rock

my little cow-cat commands the living-room chair
round body
fluffy fur
paranoid tail poofs at every sound
fearful claws grab upholstery with every movement

better not schedule a family reunion

is comfort’s
own sound