Thursday, June 19, 2008

Falling (or dancing?) under the heading of “Why Didn’t I Think of That?”

Yesterday I received a new discount book catalog in the mail. Oh, I love these catalogs. I skim through them at least a dozen times, until the new one arrives a few weeks later. I circle the books I would like to get – about a dozen, usually. I rarely send for them, but it’s fun to dream. (In fact, I am a catalog-aholic, but that is another story. In self-defense, I have been known to throw catalogs away before I open the cover. I’ve launched an offensive by registering on the Catalog Choice site at because the number of catalogs I receive in one year would easily overwhelm a municipal landfill.)
Veering back from the above tangent to the main point, a book on the front cover of my beloved discount catalog caught my eye. The title: Dancing with Cats. The description: “…thousands of people are rediscovering the ancient practice of cat dancing, tapping into this remarkable method of channeling exuberating, healing feline energy, and at the same time bonding with their pets.”
Hmm. The description begs the question, if cat dancing is an ancient practice, why has there been no mention of it before? Is it a secret cult? Or are the authors making fun of other ancient practices? In fact, I have heard of dancing cats – in Minamata, Japan, where mercury poisoning caused the cats to twirl in the streets before they dropped over dead.
My cat would not appreciate cat dancing. My cat, admittedly, is atypical. He does not like to be touched and many times, insists on a five-foot buffer between himself and any human, even those he lives with. (We suspect he may be autistic, actually, if not mildly brain damaged. He has no feline coordination whatsoever.) If I were to attempt to dance with him, I’m fairly certain my face would be shredded soon after the first twirl. It would not be a bonding experience, unless by bonding, they mean “your cat will hate you forever.” By its description, this book is filled with “amazing” photographs of “prancing humans and airborne felines.” Yes, airborne. Another feat which my cat will never master – landing on his four feet.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of William Wegman and his Weimaraners, posed in unnatural positions for the benefit of toddlers learning the alphabet, or costumed in dresses finer than my own.
But the main question this book begs is: is it Photoshop, or is it true cat dancing? If it is, in fact, true cat dancing, what if your cat doesn’t know how? What if he has four left paws? Should you force your cat to watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers videos until he masters Fred’s effortless glide? What if your cat prefers to dance with his own species? Are there cat dance instructors out there? Is this book a cover for the authors’ true professions – dance instructors? Perhaps the human side of the biz has been a bit slow and they need a new gimmick.
In any case, it’s $4.95 I will not be spending. Though it’s tempting.

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