I was reading Tony Hillerman's Skeleton Man -- a recent acquisition from the library book sale -- when I came across the following description of Jim Chee's relationship with a stray cat:
"Only when snow began did it move in to spend the nights, still keeping a cautious distance from Chee. Thus they lived together, Chee serving as food provider, Cat operating as feline watchdog,bolting in with a clatter when a coyote ( or any visitor) approached the trailer. Otherwise they ignored each other.
"The relationship perfectly fit Chee's Navajo traditionalism. Natural harmony required all species, be they human, hamster, hummingbird, snake, or scorpion, to respect each other's roles in the natural world. He saw no more justification in pretending to "own" a pet than he did in human slavery. Both violated the harmony of the system and thus were immoral."
This struck a chord with me, especially pertaining to the kittehs. Sometime, especially when they're thumping and bumping around the house in the middle of the night or when I come upon them staring at something invisible to me, I feel that we are two very different types of beings, who simply happen to occupy the same house. Our paths intersect now and then and if I didn't keep the food bowl full and the litter box clean, they'd be displeased. But they are so very much their own selves and independent of people.
The dogs seem to be emotionally dependent on us to a certain extent-- especially the Border Collie Dan whose life work involves keeping an eye on John.
The cats, on the other hand, enjoy being around us some of the time -- especially when it's cold. But they make it clear that they have their own lives to lead . . .
I've always felt that having cats in the house is much like living with semi-tamed wild animals. My pleasure comes from watching them.