Cats are pretty peculiar animals. Cat personalities range from dog-like affectionate gregariousness to the high-catness of I-don’t-give-a-damn. Unlike socially-promiscuous dogs, who tend to be madly in love with any human they see, even a friendly cat is much more choosy, dashing off to hide under the bed if an undesirable steps inside the house. These are sweeping generalizations, of course, but since I’m more a cat person than a dog person and because this is my blog, I can sweep all I want.
I have three cats living with me: Tenka, Zak and Casper.
This is the indiscriminate Tenka, who drops and rolls on her back at every opportunity, exposing her belly for a rub. Nearly 14 pounds o’ feline love. She’s both a purr factory (loud and rumbly) and fur factory (I swear, she ejects fur like a porcupine does quills). As a mostly white cat, she especially likes to cozy up to people wearing dark clothes. Black pants are a favorite. Her main weirdness–refusing to eat unless I’m standing next to her.
This is Zak, our cautious former feral. My son and daughter-in-law discovered Zak and his litter-mates hiding with their feral mom outside their apartment. At the direction of a cat rescue group, Ryan & Dani tried to corral all the kittens, but only managed to catch Zak. After many months of complete skittishness around strangers, Zak is now very affectionate, and scary athletic. A big boy (also nearly 14 pounds), he can stretch up at least three feet and jump far higher than that. Many weirdnesses, such as liking to carry his cat toys around like a dog would, tapping his water with his paw before drinking it (a feral cat trick) and burrowing under covers like a rat terrier.
At 13.5 years old, Casper is the old man of the bunch. He was a stray (found under the deck at my sister’s house), but not particularly feral. He tolerates people, but doesn’t like them very much. Luckily, he puts up with twice-daily insulin shots for his diabetes. But once when I tried to shave off some matted fur, he snagged my hand with a claw, hitting a vein and some nerves. Lots of blood and my pinky is still numb. Casper as a whole is just plain weird.
There is another kind of weird that only tangentially relates to cats, which is where the science part of this post comes in. I was reading this morning about quantum entanglement, which relates to the infamous Schrödinger’s Cat. Quantum entanglement involves objects which are linked in such a way that they cannot be measured or described unless all the linked objects are measured/described.
In the case of Schrödinger’s thought experiment, a cat in hidden in a box is linked to the state of a subatomic particle. One state (say, positively charged) means the cat is alive. The other state (say, negatively charged) means the cat is dead. Since you can’t check the charge of the particle until you open the box, you won’t know until then whether the cat is alive or dead.
Einstein considered this sort of supposition weird, and he didn’t like it, at least as it applied to physics. He felt that the weirdness of entanglements just meant the theory was incomplete (hence his compulsion to find a unified theory of physics). A colleague of his, Bohr, was just fine with weird ambiguities. Luckily they never came to blows over the disagreement.
Physics is full of cool terms like “quantum entanglements.” There are the names of quarks–up, down, beauty, strange. There’s photon, vortex and ergs. Just shows that physicists have a sense of humor.
And by the way…I never let my cats hide in a box with questionable subatomic particles. It just isn’t worth the risk.