I came upon Kit Carson up on the kitchen table, his face buried in my teacup.
Cats don't drink tea, I told him reprovingly, but he kept drinking and paid me no mind. I guess some cats do drink tea, then. I found a clean cup and poured myself some more.
I know a dog who likes breakfast cereal and another one who eats cantaloupe every day --his human companion buys the melons for him, in and out of season. That must add up over the course of a year, but she is so besotted she doesn't care. I knew a dog who ate an entire chocolate rabbit, and a dachshund who swallowed a corncob whole. I imagine I'll be hearing from some veterinarians about all this, but really, none of it was my idea. I only report what I have seen.
On this, a lazy writing day, the vision of Kit in the teacup reminded me of a psalm I wrote in 2005. I revise it considerably here, reflecting upon an
ancient world that, with one important exception, did not dote on its domestic animals as we do today.
A Psalm of Cats and Dogs
O God, why are there no cats in scripture?
And why no kindly dogs?
The ancient writers scorn your dogs;
they will not let them in the house.
But you have made the dog of love,
the same way you created me;
You have given him a loyal spirit:
he is truer than I have ever been.
In youth he glories in his strength
and smells with interest all that you have made.
He holds back his mouth from biting your servant;
he lies on the rug and bites a bone instead.
From room to room he follows me,
securing the perimeter of his house,
and barks away the intruder.
In age, he walks slowly, and sometimes not at all,
Only wags his tail to signal joy at our approach.
He sighs in sleep, his old legs move together,
as if to run, in dreams a puppy still.
O Praise God for this faithful friend!
Make us half as good as he esteems us,
And give us grace to care for him with courage
when the end of his days is upon him.
And O God, my God, what happened to all the cats?
In all your word we do not see a single one,
when right next door Egyptians cats were worshipped,
bejeweled, wrapped and scented when they died,
then laid out in tombs as elegant as those
Egyptians occupied themselves.
Cat-headed Bast, daughter and protector of the sun,
protector of women in childbirth, blessed
the fecund valley of the Nile. Upon her
fruits and grain and grapes for wine depended
for their growth, and everyone who loved her
danced in her worship, sinuous as she.
Oh. I think I know now why we have no cats in scripture:
your priests, O God, ever made nervous by
too much pleasure in any one place, put them
outside for the night, and we never got them back.
That's all right, Lord.
I know it was not your doing.