Do Cats Know What We Think Is Cute?

I swear — sometimes I think our cats know what’s cute.

Or, to be more precise: I don’t think our cats have the faintest concept of “cuteness.” But they know what gets our attention. They know that when they do the tuck-and-roll, the upside-down gaze, the crossed paws, the stretched-out paws, the nuzzle-nibble, the squirming on the back, the paw over the nose, the showing off of the belly with the paws in the air, the paws wrapped around our hand — it gets our attention. It gets us to give them skritches, and make cooing noises. It gets us to put down our devices or stop watching TV, and focus the full firehose of our attention on them. They know that when they do certain particular cat-like things, it gets our positive attention — more so than when they just sit there.

Comet especially. Talisker, I think, doesn’t care that much what we think of her — but Comet is an attention hog, and she knows how to go through her paces to get the attention she craves.

Yes, you heard me:

I’m saying felinity is performative.

Comet upside down gaze

Comet upside down gaze with paws in air

Talisker belly

More nuclear cuteness and performance of felinity after the jump. [Read more…]

Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon – Pics of the Cat Bath!

SSA Week logo

My mini-blogathon for Secular Students Week is almost over!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

Two more donations have come in since the last round of cat pics — so as promised, here are more cat photos! I’m feeling generous, so you get the full five-photo series of The Cat Bath!

cat bath 1

cat bath 2

cat bath 3

cat bath 4

cat bath 5

Remember — each donation, no matter how small, gets a new cat picture!

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon – More Cat Pics, With Snuggling And Bonus Yawn!

SSA Week logo

I’m doing a mini-blogathon today for Secular Students Week!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

Two more donations have come in since the last round of cat pics — so as promised, here are two more cat photo! With a bonus one this time, just because. In this series, you’ve got the head resting on the fuzzy belleh; you’ve got the upside-down gaze; AND you’ve got the yawn! It’s the whole package, people!

comet and talisker snuggling plus head resting on fuzzy bely

comet and talisker snuggling plus upside down gaze

comet and talisker snuggling plus yawn

Remember — each donation, no matter how small, gets a new cat picture!

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon – Another Cat Photo!

SSA Week logo

I’m doing a mini-blogathon today for Secular Students Week!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

Another donation has come in since the last round of cat pics — so as promised, here’s another cat photo! Here is Comet, giving the adoring upside-down gaze. Comet loves you so much — and she especially loves it when you support the Secular Student Alliance!

Comet upside down

Remember — each donation, no matter how small, gets a new cat picture!

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon – More Cat Pictures!

SSA Week logo

I’m doing a mini-blogathon today for Secular Students Week!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

Two more donations have come in since the last round of cat pics — so as promised, here are two cat photos, this time with Comet and Talisker snuggling.

Comet and Talisker snuggling 1

Comet and Talisker snuggling 2

More donations will almost certainly get more snuggle shots. They are some of the snuggliest cats that ever snuggled.

Remember — each donation, no matter how small, gets a new cat picture!

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon! Episode 5: If atheism were true, why do cats have pretty stripes on them?

SSA Week logo

I’m doing a mini-blogathon today for Secular Students Week!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

This hour’s post: If atheism were true, why do cats have pretty stripes on them?

A reader sent me this picture a few months ago. They didn’t know where it came from, but they thought — very much correctly — that it would spark my interest.

if atheism were true why do cats have pretty stripes on them

It’s a flyer with Christian propaganda. The readable part reads thus (it’s cropped, so not all of it is readable):

…doctrine of evolution, was enough to spawn a Hitler, a Stalin, a Margaret Sanger, the horror of Columbine, etc. Imagine what evil will come of atheism if it is allowed to blossom in society! It is foolish as well as sinful to attribute the beauty, order, design, intelligence, conscience, etc. of the universe to a mere “nothingness.” If atheism were true, why do cats have pretty stripes on them? Why do the millions of insect species have such startling beauty? Why does man feel guilty when he sins? Why does anyone have a will? Where did personality come from? On top of all this, it is considered (of course!) scientifically impossible for nothing to create anything, much less, for nothing to create everything!

There’s a lot here to unpack. But I’m going to go straight to the heart of the matter: If atheism were true, why do cats have pretty stripes on them?

Well, the obvious answers are obvious. Cats have stripes on them because of evolution: cats with stripes are harder to see in tall grass, making it easier for them both to hunt and to evade being hunted. The stripes on cats are pretty because of both evolution and cultural training. Human brains evolved to find certain kinds of images pleasant, especially images with balances of regularity and irregularity (such as cat stripes); then different cultures and sub-cultures have different standards of beauty, so if we’re brought up to think of certain kinds of images as pretty (such as cat stripes), and to have pleasant associations with them (such as pleasant experiences of petting or playing with cats that have stripes), we’re more likely to see those images as pretty.

But that’s evading the key issue here. The real reason cats have pretty stripes is that Talisker is a cat — and Talisker has all the stripes. All of them! It stands to reason: Talisker is our stripey baby; Talisker has all the stripes — and this means all the stripes. Every stripe. Therefore, cats have pretty stripes as a natural consequence of Talisker having all the stripes. My logic is unassailable. Check and mate!

Talisker yawning and looking fierce

I’ve explained this before, people. I really expect you to keep up.

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Greta’s Secular Students Week Blogathon – Cat Pictures!

SSA Week logo

I’m doing a mini-blogathon today for Secular Students Week!

This week is Secular Students Week, when people around the Internet are celebrating the fantastic work the Secular Student Alliance is doing to empower students. Their goal is to get 500 donations now through June 17th: if they do, they’ll receive a $20,000 challenge grant! Help them keep up their amazing work by giving this week. A gift of $5, $10, or $20 will go a long way towards helping them reach this goal and empower secular students: please give today!

In today’s mini-blogathon, I’ll post a new blog post once an hour, from now (a little after 9:00 am Pacific time) until 5:00 pm Pacific time. In addition, for every donation that’s made today via my blogathon, I’ll post a new cat photo!

The first two donations have come in — so as promised, here are two cat photos! Plus a bonus photo of the two cats snuggling.

Comet close-up

Talisker

Comet resting chin on Talisker's back

Remember — each donation, no matter how small, gets a new cat picture!

Once again — please support the Secular Student Alliance! Help them get their challenge grant of $20,000 by reaching their goal of 500 donations now through June 17th. Even small donations help. Please support them today!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Houdini, 2011-2015

I have some very sad, very sudden bad news. Our cat Houdini died early Wednesday morning, completely unexpectedly, from heart failure. It happened very fast: she seemed totally fine on Monday; Tuesday morning she wasn’t eating and we took her to the vet; she seemed ill but stable Tuesday evening; and early Wednesday morning she went into a rapid decline and died within an hour. The vet thinks she may have had some sort of congenital heart problem: apparently this can happen with cats, they can have heart problems that don’t show any symptoms until they suddenly give out.

Ingrid and I are pretty wrecked. Houdini was a very young cat, just three years old, and this came out of nowhere. We do feel fortunate that we were able to give her a good life, even though it was a short one, and we feel fortunate that she didn’t suffer for very long. But we are having a very hard time with this. We’ve lost cats before, but it’s been a long time since either of us has lost a cat this suddenly or this young.

I know the usual thing in these situations is to post pictures. But I can’t face that right now. I’ll do it when I can. If you want to see pictures of her, you can do a search for “Houdini” on this blog. (Houdini was the tortoiseshell.) If you feel so inspired, donations in her name can be made to the San Francisco SPCA. Thanks.

I’ve Looked At Cats From Both Sides Now

I need a break from the serious topics for a day or two. Here are some cat pictures.

Cats are so weird multi-faceted. One minute, they’re ridiculously snuggly-wuggly, like a Hallmark card. (I love how the tabbies in this one look like conjoined twins, joined at the butt. Also I love Comet’s paws on Houdini’s back.)

all three cats snuggly

And then a minute later, they look like the Clanton Gang.

all three cats suspicious and scary

Houdini especially. Those eyes are like daggers. Back away… slowly… hands in the air… leave the tuna on the floor…