Henrietta Hay Column July 31, 2009

Mercury the Wonder Cat has been a little restless lately. After all, on my birthday several months ago, I had a party. He had his ninth birthday last month, and all he got was a trip to the vet for his annual physical. 

So it seems only fair to give him some space in the column. 

Mercury has many friends in the community. So many people that I see ask about him. I want to reassure you all that he is healthy, and as handsome as ever. 

At his last annual check-up with the vet, she pronounced him “perfect.”

I think that may be putting it a little strongly, but my friend Terry might agree. She selected him and calls him His Honor, the most beautiful cat in the world. 

And he seems quite content as he continues to exist peacefully in “his” apartment in the Commons. He is a lover, not a fighter. 

Cats, even as humans, do mature a bit as they approach middle age. Or at least they should. Frankly, I can’t see much difference. He is still the gentle, loving, well-behaved cat he has been since the day he came to live with me. He is a great companion and a pleasure to live with.  He is very affectionate and loves to be petted. He usually greets visitors by rolling over on his back to have his tummy rubbed. And he is very partial to being stroked under his chin.  

Merc still considers himself above ordinary toys, but he has learned to play ball. (Can your cat do that?) He will lie on one side and when I roll a tennis ball to him, he will bat it back – sometimes. 

We all know that cats can tell time. When I settle in — silently — to watch the Rachel Madddow show, he emerges, yawning and stretching, from his sleeping spot, and jumps up on my lap to watch TV. Then around 9:00, when he thinks I have been watching long enough, he goes and sits in the bedroom door. 

He sleeps with me in whatever location on the bed suits his fancy, and is not overly concerned with my convenience.  

Most experts say that cats sleep 90 percent to 95 percent of the time. This is probably true. Mercury has many daytime sleeping spots, but his favorite is my unmade bed, which does bad things to my reputation as a housekeeper.   

He does, however, allow his sleep to be disturbed by the R.A.s (Resident Assistants).

He loves them all and they rub him and mutter cat talk to him. 

Mercury is not the only cat living at the Commons, but the cats do not associate socially. 

The Queen Mother is Samantha, a Siamese. I think she has been here the longest. Tina and Mitzy get to ride around the halls and get acquainted in cat carriages. Cleo doesn’t like her new house very much, but she is learning to accept it. 

A couple of my baby boomer friends have interesting cats. Little Mother is a feral cat who is being civilized — slowly. In a former life, Ollie was a dog named Rex. Ollie the cat thinks he is a dog.

Maya really is a dog. She is a lively little black dog that lives here and loves people. She goes walking on her leash several times a day and always stops in the lobby to speak to everyone. She seems to get along well with the cats, probably because she never sees them. 

Merc has a lot of ancestors. Actual members of the cat family emerged on our planet about 40 million years ago. 

As early as 3500 B.C., Egyptians were domesticating wildcats from Africa. The cat’s first name in Egypt was Myeo or Mau. Early Egyptians believed that the glow from a cat’s eyes held captive the light of the sun. 

So this little creature sleeping on my lap has had a long history. His body is so perfect. He can run at a speed of 30 miles an hour. He can jump or down amazing heights with complete grace. His sight and hearing are far superior to that of humans. 

Robertson Davies wrote: “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.” 

Mercury the Wonder Cat says, “Hello”. 


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