Cats And The New Normal

Poor thing, I thought, that swelling looks painful. It’s right where you don’t want it, where the sun don’t shine as they say. He’s skinny and ginger, a mouser I reckon (perhaps the occasional lizard when rodents are scarce). Too thin for a domestic cat, although he looks well on it. But that lump….it looks serious.

It’s not. He isn’t ill. He is, in fact, is very well. Very well indeed. He jumps, he positively bounds. He’s full of beans. He has, actually, balls, the balls he was born with, which explains the lump. So yes, he’s very well indeed. What would T.S Eliot have said? Was MaCavity neutered?

This cat’s illness is no worse than that occasional malaise and misfortune that goes with possessing a full set of genitalia, a condition with which those of us thus blessed are more than familiar. Growing up in England, I realise I’d never seen balls on a cat. A cat in my world was usually fat, ate processed food and had nothing to lick but its arse. Cats must have sat in suburban rooms watching all those documentaries on lions, tigers and other “big” cats with David Attenborough and thought, is this where our great heritage has led us? As another huge and majestic animal sinks its claws into a defenceless antelope, Tiddles thinks to himself: this the end of the line?

And yes, I know there are good reasons why cats are neutered. They go at it like rabbits (I’m not sure if this is a reference to favoured positions, elaborate courtship rituals or simply the drive to produce more and more other cats). But the modern domestic cat is a radically sanitised animal, a shadow of its wilder ancestors. It’s not “normal” but is rather a synthesised hybrid. Instead of prowling around for a mate, it eats dried biscuits from a plastic bowl and plays with mice because eating them has become largely superfluous.

Boris Johnson said in July that we’ll be back to “normal” by Christmas. “Normal”. A cat with its balls cut off. I can’t think of that word any other way now.

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