by Thom Waters
One must start with basics when talking of cats,
Such things as their hunting slow birds and gray rats;
And others like stalking adventure at nights,
Or cruising the alleys, just catching the sights.
And any discussion that's thorough and true
Must mention among other things that they do;
A personal program of careful hygiene,
Reflecting concern for the way that they're seen.
Now personal health and appearance are such
That no cat is guilty of washing too much;
Fine Persians and young cats, Toms and the rest,
Are alll dedicated to looking their best.
It should also be noted when talking of traits
That every cat has at least two or three mates,
Which largely explains why they look so content,
And lie 'round the house when their energy's spent.
Not all cats are pretty or handsome and some
Are lacking the speed that just naturally comes,
To a few who are gifted and move with a grace
That sets them apart from the rest of their race.
They're a crafty, conniving, and sharp thinking group
Who take pride in knowing the ways of a snoop;
They hide in the shadows and love a good roof,
And critics condemn them for being aloof.
Not one is the same as his friend down the street,
Or his rival with whom he prefers not to eat;
They're happy to be with folks gentle and kind,
But to others they're careful to pay little mind.
They're a dignified bunch, and it's never their way
To be seen chasing cars or joggers all day;
They won't fetch a stick or a ball if it's thrown,
And they don't need to sniff rear-ends not their own.
We're talking of Alleys, of Persians, and Toms,
Of small cats in cities and others on farms;
We're talking of Tabbys, both Silvers and Reds,
And cats that strut proudly with high, lofty heads.
We're talking of Randolph, of Kitty, and Mike,
Of Booful, of Bumpkins, and even old Spike;
Of Phoebe who owns such a fine pedigree,
And of Gus who was born on a ship out to sea.
They're all to degrees touched with madness some say,
Whether given to hunting or sleeping all day;
And, too, one can note that their beds always change,
That they nap in all places peculiar and strange.
On ledges of windows with paws to the screen,
On shelves among books where they're hard to be seen;
On fences in cities not heeding the wires,
And under old cars on the tops of the tires.
They're a group that's been schooled in the oddest of ways,
And they don't measure life by the length of their days;
And the essence of everything bitter and sweet
Is the joke that they pull on the dog down the street.
There might be some fiction in what has been said,
About what they've done in the stories you've read;
But whatever the lies, it will always be true
That no person knows what a cat just might do.
Study them, follow them, read what you can,
Feed them, and love them, and show them your hand;
And keep from conclusions that say they're no good,
That really a cat's just a rogue and a hood.
There's a distance they keep for reasons not known,
But whatever the reasons, they're always their own;
And to think that you own one is just a wrong thought,
You'll spend time and money, and look what you've got.
A hard time is likely, a swish of the tail,
And a look to suggest that your love would just fail;
As if you had beaten and kicked them all day,
It can be a tough price that cat lovers pay.
Still, no cat's a lazy, old broken-down bum,
Though down through the years such opinions have come,
From people completely unschooled in their ways,
Who claim that they sleep away most of their days.
It's just wise to remember that no cat's a fool,
And they're careful with love as a general rule;
To some they can be most delightful and warm,
Or dreadfully cold like a harsh Winter storm.
And here's where we'll leave it, one final thought,
That a cat's most inclined, believe it or not,
To keep to himself despite all that you do,
And whatever you think, it's most likely not true,
They live in a world that's distinctly their own,
To us fascinating, though mostly unknown;
And watching them walk the streets up and down,
Reminds us that cats are all about town.
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