1. I like cats because they’re furry. Our two cats’ coats feel quite different from each other: Cassie’s is utterly soft and fluffy – like fairy thistledown – while Sirius’s is smooth and silky. Stroking them is soothing and comforting. Feline security blankets.
2. I like cats because they’re quiet. I can quite see the attraction of dogs also – though I’ve never had one or known one very well – but the one thing I don’t like about them is their barking. Cats just sit peacefully there looking elegant and saying very little. Mostly.
3. I like cats because they’re beautiful. Ours are particularly beautiful, of course, which you don’t really see because black cats don’t photograph well. In photos they tend to look either featureless or rather sleek and evil. But they’re actually sootily glossy and also slender and dainty and streamlined. Unlike me.
4. I like cats because they’re sweet. Yes, I know this is an even sillier reason than some of my others. Yet when they unfurl and offer their fluffy tummies to be stroked – well, they’re cute. I’m vulnerable to cuteness because it’s such a long time since my children were babies and (sigh) I have no grandchildren.
5. I like cats because they’re calm. This is a slight bending of the truth because they actually jump even at not-very-loud noises; and, if a burglar arrived, he would never know they existed because they’d be panicking silently behind the sofa. There are also skittish times when they chase each other up and down the stairs and from chair to chair to table. But most of the time they sit and gaze around placidly or go to sleep. So relaxing to watch.
6. I like cats because they don’t worry. I would love not to do so. I know, oh how I know, that there’s no point in chewing over the past or agonising about the future. But it’s hard not to. Cats just exist in the present. They don’t like it when the window-cleaner arrives outside the living room with his clanking bucket – but they don’t sit counting the days till he comes back again. And do they search their consciences about that little mousey murder or those scratches on the kitchen cupboards? I think not.
7. I like cats because they purr. What a lovely sound.
8. I like cats because they allow themselves to be picked up and dandled like a baby or carried around or just fluffed as they pass by on some business or other. Burying one’s face in their velvety tummies is immensely pleasurable – ah, the smell of warm cat! And then they’re quite happy to be put down again. It’s a very tactile way of passing a few moments. And it’s touching how a creature will accept human contact and will trust us not to hurt it.
9. I like the individual bits of cats. Their little heads fit so nicely in a palm. Their tails are satisfying to twiddle between the fingers, like worry beads. Their small feet with those claws that could scratch you, but don’t. Their furry trousers, straight out of Beatrix Potter. Their mouths – from the front they look solemn and judicious but if you look at them from the side, they have a secret smile.
10. I like cats because they’re so easily made happy; so uncomplicated. They like warmth, food – particularly prawns – and a bit of stroking. That’s it. They’re not ambitious or jealous or clingy or proud or avaricious. They’re just themselves.