Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Feline Piety?

Aka walking

Aka, my in-laws' cat, is definitely getting to be an old man. He is at least fifteen years old, which more than puts him in the "venerable" category as cats are concerned. He has aged a lot particularly during the past year. Though he is still a lovable wad of red fluff, he is getting to be a bag of bones. It's no wonder, too, since his teeth are mostly gone, and my in-laws have a hard time getting him to eat anything. His once-resonant meow is now a barely-audible croak, and his purr is little more than a slight hiss. The tip of his nose has grown down over his nostrils, partly blocking them and giving him a permanent case of the sniffles. Affectionate as ever, he still makes a beeline for anyone he can see nearby, wrapping himself around their legs to enforce his mandatory petting rule. Now, however, that beeline is rather slow and stiff, so he has to rely on the cooperation of his "victims".

Even so, he is still the Great Red Master of His Domain, and Tora, our own cat, still clearly respects that.

I once described how, when Tora was a kitten, Aka would not tolerate his being in a higher position. If Tora climbed up into a tree or onto a chunk of wood, His Royal Redness would immediately follow after the young upstart and jostle him off. Guess what? Somehow he still does. In fact, on those rare occasions when my in-laws let Aka outside, if he sees Tora he'll quite often stride purposefully toward him, cuff him one on the head, and then swagger away, waving his tail like a flag of victory.

You have to understand that Tora is MUCH younger and fitter than Aka. He moves fast, and while he is very affectionate, he can also be extremely aggressive. A skilled hunter, he has already bagged a good many mice as well as a few birds (not to mention untold numbers of bugs, which are hard to count since they usually end up swallowed). He is also more than capable of holding his own against the unneutered male cats in our neighborhood. However, while he has no problem with going into Aka's domain and swiping his food, he still shows no resistance whatsoever to his adoptive older brother. When His Royal Redness comes trudging slowly and stiffly toward him to give him his customary swat on the head, Tora simply squats down and takes it, offering nothing in reply but an irritated twitching of the ears.

It's kind of touching, actually. Aka and Tora are displaying the Japanese traditions of knowing one's place and respecting one's elders. These are customs which seem to be fading fast in modern Japan. It used to be that one's elders were treated with worshipful respect. Unfortunately, many if not most of the grandparents of Japan, determined to give their grandchildren a happier life than they had themselves as children in the bleak aftermath of the war, are confusing love with indulgence and thus sowing disaster. It's little wonder that a lot of young people nowadays view their elders as walking expense accounts at best and damned nuisances at worst. Not among the feline members of our family, however. Creaky, old furbag though he is, Aka still demands respect, and Tora gives it to him.

Tora by the door
Tora, the "good adoptive younger brother"?

(Now, don't even start on my relationship with my in-laws!)

6 Comments:

  • Ooohhhh.... the old cat looks so.... how should I put, like a wise grandpa :D

    By Blogger Selba, at 8:03 PM  

  • Mwahaha =P I like Selba's term abt the old cat being a "wise grandpa"!

    By Anonymous angele, at 3:55 AM  

  • I seem to remember you had a book about cats, something to do with a hundred ways to do unusual things to your cat, I can't remember exactly, but it was very funny.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 8:31 AM  

  • Aka and Tora are displaying the Japanese traditions of knowing one's place and respecting one's elders..?\
    Good metaphor!
    Should the Author ought to learn from them?

    By Anonymous Spirit, at 1:21 PM  

  • my first cat, baby, lived to be 18. some can live to be 21. both are extremely beautiful. i love Tora's big eyes... and her coat is just gorgeous.

    Aka... well, he looks like a sweety.

    isn't it something how cats act different in different countries. i would have never said such, but these bahraini cats are totally different than american cats, and i'm not kidding you in the slightest!

    interesting.

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 11:01 PM  

  • What a sweet post, MM. You took time to observe and understand the felines. Awesome!

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 5:43 PM  

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