Cats, as we know, have small brains. Much of their limited capacity is utilised in ways the average amoeba would not find challenging. Take, for instance, phototaxis. The average vegetable is capable of phototaxis. And the average vegetable uses it for a useful purpose – photosynthesis. The average cat is also capable of phototaxis, but the purpose is highly maladaptive.

I am talking, of course, about the ability of the average cat to assess the quality of light reflected from its coat and, having done so, move to position itself precisely on a surface displaying exactly the opposite properties. My cat, for instance, is mostly white. This means he comes to rest on the darkest possible surface, ideally an item of my clothing, upon which he can then shed his hair liberally. Black cats, obviously, choose pale clothing to sit on.

Why this should be is a mystery. It would appear to be counter-productive given the average reaction of the average cat owner on discovering their clothing looking like it’s been caught in a pillow fight is not positive and friendly towards the offending cat. My theory is that cats are so unbelievably vain they care not for the opprobrium this behaviour attracts since their only concern is to set themselves off to best advantage.

There is another taxis that cats have refined to an art form, and this is fibretaxis. For there is no place, however obscure and protected, that one can place ones knitting that the average cat will not locate in order then to sit, lie or otherwise lounge squarely on the work in progress. No item of knitting is too small or insignificant. An inch or so of sock is as inviting as, for instance, the completed back of a large garment.

Here we have a typical example of the behaviour in action.

Feline fibretaxis

Reading from top left to bottom right we have the cat insinuating itself on the edge of the knitting (which has been placed on the kitchen table to be measured); total occupation is achieved with the entirety of the cat’s body (including tail) placed inside the boundaries of the knitted surface; any suggestion of removal is greeted with extreme contempt; the territory is defended with vigour.

Why? I ask myself. Why, why, why? I whimper as I nurse my slashed hands and attempt to remove white hairs from my green garment without getting it covered in red blood.

The cat merely looks inscrutable (he is, after all, an oriental breed) and I realise my question is in vain. He has about as much idea of why as a cabbage has of how, but without the advantage of tasting delicious boiled and covered with melted butter and freshly-ground black pepper.

9 Replies to “Fibretaxis”

  1. without the advantage of tasting delicious boiled and covered with melted butter and freshly-ground black pepper
    How do you know? Might be a good time for some culinary experimentation! Don’t be intimidated by rumors: I understand that there really is only one way to skin a cat.

  2. I admit I find the idea of shredded cat in a stir-fry with lashings of ginger (he has, after all, got ginger patches) very appealing. An oriental dish! Most appealing, though, is the thought of the shredding, which would require the use of a very large, very sharp knife.

  3. Good heavens, what has that cat been up to? He looks positively dissolute now. Have you been slipping him catnip? That drunken leer in the third photo!

  4. He certainly spends a lot of time “out” and returns tattered and smelling of perfume. However he is one of those irritating sort of cats that doesn’t like catnip. I would call that look a defiant sneer rather than a drunken leer.

  5. I am currently housesitting three cats and wondering if the owner would miss one, when she returns, if I tried out some recipe ideas.
    It is almost Independence Day here in the USA, and barbecues are traditional… Everything is good roasted on a spit over an open fire, right?

    (I do actually like these cats but not the way their free-floating fur insinuates itself into my nostrils.)

  6. I refer you to another example. Our black cat on my office chair which is covered in a faux suede in light tan…

  7. I see from the useful site How to Eat Cats that cat in a hot ginger sauce is highly recommended. As is cat soup. Stir-fry diesn’t appear to be mentioned.

    Gordon – qed. Sigh.

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