July 8th is International Cat Day, a day to give the furry members of your family extra attention; a tuna treat, a new toy or some extra cuddling.
Cats have now overtaken dogs as the most popular pet. They are quiet, sleep a lot and are not aggressive unless they are provoked. They wash themselves and weigh less than dogs so make better bed companions. Cats and humans have been coinciding since the ancient Egyptians discovered that it was cats that ate the rats that ate the grain that lay in the granary, and kitty became a hero. Cat statues and cat hieroglyphics date back thousands of years.
Cats faced a lot of discrimination during the Middle Ages when they were associated with witches, devils and evil. Thankfully that fad faded and cats are part of the culture. Even the big ones. Lions are heroes in films and books and tigers are used to attract customers for breakfast cereals and car products. And what child has not had some item stamped with Hello Kitty? This familiar nameless and mouthless feline figure markets everything from beach towels to laptops and earns about five million dollars a year for the Sanrio company of Japan.
Here in Costa Rica cats fall into the working class or the leisure class. Felix and Luigi live and labor at El Establo which sells pet food and supplies and has its own veterinarian. Felix is an old hand, er, paw at demonstrating the products. “Felix likes it,” says manager José Lizano showing a new cat food to a customer who, seeing that it has passed the Felix test, buys it. Most of all Felix likes to test out the dog beds to see if they are comfortable enough. Luigi is still young. He was brought in by a customer hoping to find a new home for him but everyone liked the gray tiger striper so he stayed and by following Felix around the store learned on the job.
Daisy and Blanca live in a video store and entertainment center. And what could be more entertaining than watching Daisy chase a mouse or Blanca knocking videos off the shelves. Their job is to keep the store rodent free and be available for customers to pet while making their selections. Both arrived as kittens and are spayed and quite at home in the store.
Pepe is also a working cat in a leather workshop. The gray and white cat is a new addition but does his job restricting the rodent population. Rodent control is a popular job for cats. Most farms keep kitties who also add to hygiene by lapping up any spilled milk in the dairy barn.
You don’t argue with Lamborghini, a huge brindle who did not want his picture taken. He is mostly just a pet at La Vete, a warehouse for animal feed and supplies but you can bet that no rats or mice will chance running into this miniature lion. He was a street kitten when the staff found him four years ago. Another cat, Cleo has a choice job as a model at another branch of El Establo. She shows off cat collars with bells as she struts up the carpeted kitty climber.
We all know some leisure cats who spend their days sleeping, eating and grooming. This type admittedly causes more work for their owners who daily clean up piles of cat hair and battle to keep the cat off the table when there’s food around. But that’s a small price to pay for the lordly feeling when a small defenseless creature curls up in your lap and purrs.
So Happy International Cat Day to all our cats, and if you don’t have one, you can adopt one at an animal shelter or through an animal rescue group. And while kittens are playful and fun to watch, an older cat is also a joy and a perfect companion for those who work and want to come home to a pet.