Those little metal pet rabies tags you attach to your dog or cat’s collar are much more than jingling baubles. Rather, they are shining insignia that represent one of humankind’s great victories over a centuries-old scourge.
The annals of recorded medical history are dotted with numerous spectacularly terrifying diseases and pandemics. Some of the most notable include:
The Antonine Plague of 165 A.D., which killed some 5 million people and decimated the Roman army. It is believed to have been a smallpox or measles epidemic, brought back to Italy by soldiers returning from Mesopotamia.
Bubonic Plague—better known as the Black Death of the Middle Ages—a deadly bacterial infection, spread by fleas and rats, that ravaged three continents and took an estimated 200 million lives.
The Flu Pandemic of 1918, which was a perversely lethal strain of influenza that tore across the globe and struck down an estimated 50 million otherwise healthy, robust young adults.
HIV/AIDS, which has racked up a combined death toll of 36 million worldwide since it appeared on the scene in 1981.
“So first, your memory I’ll jog,
And say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.” ~ T.S. Eliot, ‘The Ad-dressing of Cats’ from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Perhaps it is due to a defect in my character, but the company of animals has for me often been preferable to that of human beings. Not that I am any sort of misanthrope. I like people, and get along well with practically all of them. It’s just that I find the complex machinations of the human mind—how to read it, how to respond to it, what to make of it—quite exhausting at times. Whereas the instincts, behaviors, and personalities of most animals lie much more at the surface, readily accessible if not always understood. Their innocence is profoundly appealing, and thus dealing with them is just easier for someone like me.
So yes, I love animals, all of them. I daresay, they tend to love me back most of the time. And how could it be otherwise?—given that my namesake saint is most famous for his inspiring rapport with birds and every other beast.
What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing of the origin and destiny of cats? — Henry David Thoreau
The beginning of the relationship between humans and Felis silvestris catus is lost to time. It goes back at least 10,000 years—before even the inhabitants of ancient Egypt “tamed” those early housecats.
And that relationship has always been much more than just a convenient, mutually beneficial domestic arrangement between Man and Animal. Something about the eyes, the attitude, the motion of a cat opens doors into a world beyond the human experience that is exquisitely sensuous and mysterious, even magical.
Because of their own capacity for “seeing beyond” and delving into the mysterious, artists have always been attracted to cats as worthy subjects of their art: drawing, painting, and sculpting them in countless ways to reveal at least a little of that ineffable mystery which surrounds them like an aura. And, of course, for centuries poets have not been able to resist writing about them. Continue reading “For Fans of Felines, Five Famous Poems”
Below is a guest blog article by our social media editor, Frank Weaver, who just returned from a trip to the Balkan region of Eastern Europe.
If you are an animal lover, one of the first things you will notice when traveling through the Republic of Croatia is the large number of stray cats you encounter wherever you go. Especially in big cities, but also in small towns, they are everywhere!
While there are cat sanctuaries and rescue shelters to be found here and there in Croatia, they are few and far between, and no doubt their funding is marginal. That being said, such organizations would in some degree be serving a need that may not really exist. In this country, the human and feline tribes seem to cohabit independently yet connected in a kind of perfect symbiosis. These cats belong to no one, yet belong to everyone. Continue reading “Cats of Croatia”
Why paint a cat? It is art already.
— Wieland Grant
From the time of the ancient Egyptians, through the classical period and the Middle Ages, and right up to the present day, the common house cat (Felis catus) has been a constant object of attraction, mystery, and fascination for humanity. And throughout history, artists and craftspeople have expressed that fascination in every form of art—in sculpture, mosaics, drawings, paintings, and more.