Friday, January 29, 2010

But none of my cats are all like that

Cecil, you're my final hope
Of finding out the true Straight Dope
For I have been reading of Schrödinger's cat
But none of my cats are at all like that.
This unusual animal (so it is said)
Is simultaneously alive and dead!
The story of Schrödinger's cat (an epic poem), Randy F., Chicago

Halfway up the stairs isn't up and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery, it isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts run round my head.
It isn't really anywhere, it's somewhere else instead.
A.A. Milne

An Australian ex-cat
The very idea of Schrödinger's cat makes my head hurt.

If you don't know about Schrödinger's cat and want to, you can read about it here. Similarly , if you don't want to know, you may not read about it here. Both these states may exist simultaneously although at any one time, only one will appear to be true.

Sometimes I think about Schrödinger's cat - generally when I wish I had a cat. In fact, I think my cat IS Schrödinger's cat - simultaneously here and not here, but mostly not here. And that is because I don't have a cat.

And in the new Apple-speak - there's a reason for that. It is almost impossible to have a cat in Manhattan and to lead a normal life. Simultaneously, that is. Unless your apartment is below the third or fourth floor you can only safely keep a cat if you don't open your windows or if you install special cat-proof guards on them.

This is because Manhattan cats have the High-Rise Syndrome. The cat is likely to fall many stories to its death. They focus their attention on something moving and lose all sense of distance, try to paw it, and then the cat is cactus. A true Schrödinger's cat in a fifty percent sorta way.

I've actually seen a cat fall from a window. Fortunately it was from a third floor apartment. I was standing outside a Barnes and Noble store on 86th Street, waiting for a friend. There were a few of us standing there. And suddenly a cat came hurtling down, breaking its fall on the shoulder of a man standing near me. It lived but was injured.

Few people outside Manhattan seem to know about falling cats. Recently I posted on my status thingy on FaceBook, that I was avoiding flying cats, and a FaceBook friend seemed to think it was a huge joke. "You can have a never-ending stream of kitties," he commented.

I wonder what would happen if a person was hit by a cat falling say 26 floors. Would it be fatal for the human as well as the cat? It is perhaps this thought that keeps me from getting one.

I'd like a pet though. Last week I stopped by the ASPCA on my way to the gym. I just wanted to look at the cats - I was thinking of photographing one for an assignment I have in my photography course - I have to photograph an animal.

I didn't tell the person at reception that this was my aim. I always get a guilty feeling when in the presence of animal lovers and this guilty feeling makes me feel I'd better lie. I feel that animal lovers are somehow morally superior and that I am a lesser person as I regard animals as less than human. If I were a Catholic I'd think animal lovers were saints.

So I just asked could I look at the cats. The-person-at-reception said I needed photo ID with my address on and would have to fill out a form. I filled out the form and had photo ID but nothing showing an address. The reception person went through my answers, asking for elaboration on a number of points. I'd missed a question. Cat-like, she pounced on it. How noisy was my apartment? Loud, not so loud, a bit loud, sometimes slightly loud and so on.

As you have no photo ID I'll need to escort you, she told me. While I was wondering about the relevance of the noise level in my apartment to my "just looking" at cats, we took a tour of the adopt-a-cat section.

What IS it about animal lovers? Even if I DID want to adopt a cat, there'd be no way I'd measure up. New York cats are known to attend art classes and New York dogs have their own hotels. I'd have to promise to take the cat on play dates and sleep-overs. I'd need kitty litter and where would I put it? I hate kitty litter. What if the cat jumped on the kitchen counter-top? I hate cats near food. These are the sort of things I make myself think about whenever I get the urge to be a cat owner. Works every time.

Perhaps you could look at the dogs, my guide suggested when we'd looked at all the cats. Sure why not, I thought. Do dogs suffer from High-rise Syndrome I wondered. There were lots of sad dogs, all very large. German Shepherds, Great Danes, huge bitsers.

I can't imagine keeping a dog in an apartment. As for following it around in the street waiting to scoop up its poo ... No way would I get a dog. Our neighbours in our apartment building have one. He looks like a Border Collie. Sometimes he barks. I like it when he barks because if I am on the phone to Australia, an activity that is becoming increasingly rare now that I have been dumped by the lunch crowd, the Australian person will say what's that noise and I will say, that's a dog and they'll act all surprised and disbelieving. I get a kind of sick enjoyment, shattering their well-founded illusions about life in New York.

After surveying the dogs, I left the ASPCA as I knew I would - petless. I don't know what I'll photograph for my assignment.

But getting back to Schrödinger's cat - this is the thing (as they say ad infinitum in New York). Did Mr Schrödinger's really have a cat. Or did he only THINK he did?

My money's on him having both of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fer Chrissakes, don't open that box! But then again, you aren't really a cat person Kate. Or a dog person. Nor am I a home animal lover. They're worse'n kids.
Ah hell, open the bloody box.

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