Thursday, July 31, 2014

Purring Prrroudly

I recently referenced something called the cat tribe in another blog, which a confused commenter asked me about. I had hoped that readers would be able to pick it up from context, but I can see how to non-cat tribe folks it would make no sense, and I'd like to clarify so I can keep referencing it in my writing.

So what is cat tribe? When I used that phrase in my other blog, I meant a broad selection of people I have encountered in my life, many of whom are good friends of mine, who strongly identify with the cat archetype and have feline characteristics. They way we move, think, act, and relate all show up in feline ways. We might walk right by someone we love and care about without acknowledging them if we are focused on something else. We might start walking to get food and change our minds to taking a bath on the way.

We also use cat language to explain things and meow at each other to communicate. For example, when I receive a text message from a cat tribe friend, I could say that they meowed me. Or if I was going to call her, I could say, I need to meow at so-and-so. In person we sometimes meow and purr and hiss to express our emotions, which is mutually understood. One time a friend put a bottle of juice in my fridge and wrote MEOW on the cap to indicate that it was hers.

As I was coming home from an otherworldly retreat last week (Witchcamp! More on that soon!) I was walking through the Safeway of the nearest city with two friends. After wandering down the ice cream aisle and losing them, I meowed to find them. This is a regular practice that I do with cat tribe friends, meowing to locate each other in a crowd. It is hard to mistake this for anything else, as might be possible with a name.

I was raised around a lot of cats and kittens, so I picked up many of my feline characteristics by immersion. I have been told, at as young as age 14, that I make sudden physical movements which are both graceful and awkward at the same time; they are cat-like. I like to rub up against people. I am an anarchist, as all cats are. Autonomy and freedom are very important to me. I don't do well with superimposed rules that I didn't agree to. Kittens are one of the most therapeutic beings for me to be around, and far, FAR, cuter than the strange chimp nymphs my own species replicates itself as.

Most of the cat folks I know identify as women, but thinking of my male cat friend as a tomcat really helps me understand where he is coming from and accept him more--as well as know how to relate and set boundaries. Queens don't hesitate to swipe a tom even as they are flirting, and toms don't seem to take it personally. On the other hand, gender construction is not a limitation for cats. Toms are just as sensual and erotic as any human woman is encouraged to be, and queens can be vicious, buff rat killers. It's very fluid for them--which is why we humans often have to look at their genitals before assigning a "correct" pronoun. Maybe they have a lot to teach us about how we think of gender.

Actually, cats have a lot to teach us about everything. I have a book called The Way of the Cat that basically suggests treating your cat(s) as your guru, and I think the author is spot on. If anyone can help me be more enlightened, it is probably my cats. They practice openheartness, playful presence, and nonattachment.

I hope this has clarified what the cat tribe is. If you are one of us, please add anything I have missed or that is different about your experience in the comments. Meee-Yow!

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