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Letter: And Now, a Few Good Words About Cats

As I indicated in a previous Letter to the Editor, I missed seeing a number of copies of Port News for a few months because of illness. Then it took me nearly two weeks to catch up with all the issues I missed.

I read with particular interest by Linda Portney Goldstein titled “Manorhaven Tackles Cat Problem: Village Plans to Ban the Feeding of Wild Cats,” dated Aug. 11, 2011. The proposed fine for feeding wild cats was steep: $100 for the first offense and $500 or more for “serial feeders.” Ms. Portney Goldstein reported that cat feeding receptacles were found near the unused former quarters of Thypin Steel.

I recall that some 25 years ago, Thypin Steel began tearing down wooden pilings that extended into Manhasset Bay. Company officials suspected that hordes of rats made their homes in those wooden pilings. Thus, company officials put out a call to round up all available cats to solve the rat problem. Animal shelters and pounds were obliged to let all their cats loose to go after the rodents. That plan worked to a very high degree.

Back during the 14th century, in about 1346-55, the bubonic plague or “Black Death” leveled Europe’s population by at least a third. What caused the plague? Why, rats who spread the disease. Subsequently, government officials from all over the continent called for all available cats to solve the very serious rodent problem. The plan worked.

We must remember that our feline friends have played a key role in human history. Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great 18th century English lexicographer, in defining the word “cat” emphasized that cats were extremely useful in ridding cities and towns of rats and mice. Cats were regarded as sacred animals in ancient Egypt. Carvings thousands of years old were found in Egypt. They were associated with the goddess “Pasht.”

How many cats are kept as pets in the United States today? At least 50 million. Cat food and cat paraphernalia make up a billion plus dollar industry in the U.S. We are told that when your cat sits in your lap and is petted, the blood pressure in most adults goes down. The moral of this essay is: “Don’t sell cats short.”

Cats don’t speak, of course, but they still employ easily readable body language. When a cat stares at his owner lovingly, we may ask, “What does a cat think about all day?” Only two entitles can tell us the answer: God and the cat himself.

Robert Obojski