Lillian Jackson Braun, the late mystery writer, opined that ‘cats never strike a pose that isn’t photogenic’. I’m not sure about that. Take a look at this one.
I don’t think that it’s true even that all cats themselves are photogenic. After all, to be blunt, there are some odd-looking felines, to put it kindly. The four who live with me are beautiful, of course, so it’s difficult for me to judge peculiarity first-hand. What I believe, though, is that we, as pet-owners, see our animals as perfect. Except in my case, as I mentioned earlier: my cats are genuinely beautiful; it’s not my belief, it’s a simple fact. I can’t help it. There it is.
As wonderful as mine look, I admit that, physically, there are some irregularities about them. Tungsten has a damaged left eye. She’s had it for as long as I’ve known her. The pupil looks larger than the corresponding right one, but there is what seems to be a hole or tear in the iris, or perhaps some tissue lodged there. It has never bothered her. She has not pawed at that eye or blinked it so it appeared to be troubling her. She can see well, though I think certain qualities of vision such as close detail is sometimes difficult for her. And yet this imperfection does not detract from her attraction.
Josie is like a small iceberg. Does that mean she is less capable of affection? Not at all. She’ll drag her ponderous mass up to new visitors and welcome them as my official greeter. She is losing weight, quarter-ounce by quarter-ounce, but still looks like an ice cream cone walking point-end first. She also has a notch in her ear, perhaps from a fight very early in her life. And because of her shape, she sometimes needs help in, shall I say, cleanliness. Yet who wouldn’t want her company for a life-time?
Renn has a failing as delicate as Josie’s. His long hair once in a while picks up litter when he goes to the lavatory. I have to set my big boy down and perform some judicious trimming. I have to be careful because the hair disguises body parts which he still needs, however much the veterinarian has already cut back there. It’s a bothersome chore - more for him than me - which he endures better than he used to. For my part, I do it because it’s a small price to pay to keep him healthy and happy. But what would be too high a price?
Tucker has a bit of strabismus in one eye. His left one squints a bit, though the veterinary told me that there is nothing wrong with it. It makes him appear a bit shifty. But he is a sweet-natured sausage who wants only to have friends, play a bit and rest a lot. His horrific deformity - that little squishy eye - doesn’t make him less of a joy.
The truth is that we see our pets through rose coloured glasses. Or are we looking at them from an ivory tower? Either way, they don’t appear quite as they do to others. As well, we give them the compensation due to innocence. Cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, lizards, and every other animal that is loved as a pet, don’t care about looks. Perhaps they are snobs when it comes to smell, or something we can’t define. Perhaps they are as superficial as we are in their own way - though it doesn’t seem like it. We see that they will love a person based on how he behaves rather than how he looks. We take that into account. They love us regardless of our imperfections, and so we love them in the same way.
That’s the secret of their photogeniety. A cat could be as ugly as Medusa and as deformed as the Elephant Man, but he would be beautiful to us. Missing a leg, an eye, walking with a limp, deaf, needing help to use the litter-box; nothing seems to make them hideous to their owners. We see companions, friends, and in them is beauty, even though it may not look like it.