Why do we love our cats so much?

Reckonings column by Della Mallette, June 24 Grand Forks Gazette.

Why does a cat enjoy hours outside and then come in to use its litter box?

Why, when you let a cat out on a two-door balcony, does the cat scratch to come in at the door that DOESN’T have a special cat door?

A better question yet: why, after you clean your house because the realtor is bringing someone over, and you return a few hours later to see a gory, feathered mess at the door—somehow you just know that was what the realtor and company saw first?!

Okay, so now you know some of what’s happening at my house thanks to Frankie, Hycoo and Lucy. And most cat owners will have asked themselves these very same questions. And most cat owners shake their heads and will open the door, clean the litter box, and pick up the remains of the grouse, bird, rodent, whatever was lunch that day.

Because we love our cats.

We’ve had dogs over the years, and they’re wonderful too, in different ways. But if I feel the need for some canine companionship, I can go to the neighbour’s. They’ve got plenty.

Cats are in every nook and corner of our society, libraries being one of the most notable places. There are some libraries in Canada that have cats, but the most celebrated library feline in North America was Dewey Readmore Books of Spencer, Iowa. I found many others.

Researching library cats took me to an interesting website: ironfrog.com. The site belongs to filmmaker and comedian Gary Roma of Iron Frog Productions in Williamsburg, Mass.

The website actually has a map of where to find library cats. The Timberland Regional Library in Amanda Park, Wash. has four cats: Stella, Grayfur, Thunder, and Cloud. I don’t know if their predecessors were Lightning and Strike, but it’s a good bet.

I watched a TV news program recently that featured a library that went a step further: the local humane society set up an enclosure near the circulation desk, and patrons could “sign out” a cat, and take a book and their furry friend and find a quiet corner. Patrons find the cats therapeutic, and report leaving the library feeling much more relaxed.

Sometimes they leave with a kitty who needs a forever home.

Last week I sat for a spell in at a local coffee shop and found a story in the Province (thanks for the paper!) about a study conducted by Gail Myrick, an assistant professor at Indiana University and a researcher into media’s emotional effects.

Myrick recruited 7,000 people for a lengthy online questionnaire about when, where and why they watch cat videos.

No matter the personal variables, however, people reported feeling more energetic, happier and less stressed after watching a video of a cat—even when they felt guilty about it because they were supposed to be doing something else.

Many stores have cats, and I have to admit, it’s a bigger draw than a sale.

Offices have cats, too. It’s too bad our doors are constantly opening and some days we have too much traffic to keep a cat around.

In libraries, in offices, online—there’s no doubt about it, cats are, well, the cat’s meow.

But I’ll sign off now, it’s time to give my trio their Temptation treats. And I reckon they’ll want outside. And then they’ll want in the door without the cat flap, to come in to use the litter box.