What if Cats had wings?

Gary the cat laying on the bed (image from: www.pexels.com)

Japan is famous for its rich heritage, fastest trains, and animes. Animes have become a way through which people outside Japan have come to expand their knowledge about the respective country on so many grounds. Via watching animes and Japanese cartoons, I have come to know about these facts: Japanese people love building wooden houses to limit the extent of the wreckage caused by the frequent tremors of earthquakes, Japanese people prefer watching golf and baseball mostly. Though, Sumo Wrestling remains the national sport there. I got to learn about the kimono, a traditional Japanese garment, for the first time while watching cartoons that originated in Japan.

A significant portion of my childhood was devoted to a black-and-white television screen as I would watch Shin-chan, the famous Japanese manga series, a lot. Watching Shin-chan was something special that now represents a whole different sphere of my childhood memories. I could spend hours and hours watching the episodes of the little kid, who is naughty but humorous. I still try to stay connected with the series, thanks to the internet. For me, only the mode of watching has changed, with the black-and-white television screen now evolving into a smartphone screen or a laptop screen.

So, the story of Shin-chan revolves around the Nohara family. A middle-class gentleman, named Hiroshi Nohara, is a serviceman and the sole breadwinner of the family. There is Misae Nohara, Hiroshi’s wife and the mother of the series’ protagonist, Shin-chan Nohara, and his little sister Himawari Nohara.

The setting, which I am currently penning down, reflects a picture of contemporary Japan, where Hiroshi buys a fish on his way home from the office. Upon reaching home, he hands over the fish to Misae, his wife, and goes on to take a soothing shower. Misae, busy with some other chores, decides to place the fish on the table in the dining room. She was contemplating putting that in the refrigerator, but the necessity of the other work made him leave the package carrying fish on the table.

Then a cat, fuzzy and somewhat cute, enters the scene. Sensing that the package containing the fish is unattended and unguarded, it makes a gigantic leap on the table and starts smelling the fish. The moment it picks that up with the help of its mouth, it survives a vicious thump on its backside. It was the vigilant Misae with her broom, punishing the perpetrator. Baffled and hurt by not only getting a smack but also losing its dinner at the decisive moment, the cat makes a swift escape through the way it entered in the first place. The Nohara family ends up being the winner of the bout.

Now, what if the cat had wings at that instance? It would probably fly into the room like a butterfly, achieve its memento (which is the fish in this case), and could have made a flying escape this time without even suffering the beating from the notorious Misae Nohara. In fact, it could have been a much more scary beast. Can you even imagine a cat with a pair of wings? It would have been the cat version of the mythological Pegasus.

Cats are generally simple and risk-averse creatures. If not a pet, they spend their life salvaging foods from the dustbins. Careless, free of all taxes and all burdens of this modern world, it walks on, waving its tail in a pleasing manner. Sometimes it feels as if it has come to this world with just one mission of stealing fish from houses in its domain. They might be a bit weird sometimes, but these cats are quick learners. Why am I saying so? Let me elaborate.

In 1898, there was a prominent psychologist in England. His name was Edward Thorndike. As suggested by his profession, he would carry on experiments that would make the understanding of psychology simpler to the common world. As such, he decided to gauge how a task becomes a habit in animals. He was keen on conducting a test and ended up using cats for the very purpose. The basic equipment of the experiment was just a puzzle box, which included a button. Pressing that would open the door for the caged cat to escape the said puzzle box. A bowl full of the cat’s favourite food was placed at a distance from the door so that the cat could make a run for it after escaping the puzzle box. In fact, the bowl, full of its favourite food, was a temptation to make the cat work harder consciously.

The cat was put into the box for the first time. It began to wander around and smell the box in an enthusiastic manner. After spending 160 seconds (two minutes) inside the box, the cat, somewhat unconsciously, pressed the exit button. And subsequently, the door became ajar. The cat made the escape and reached the bowl holding its favourite food.

But that was not it for the cat as Thorndike put the cat inside the puzzle box once again. This time, the researcher saw a drastic change. Having taken 160 seconds in its first attempt, the cat cleared the second round at the 30-second mark. In the third, fourth, and fifth attempts, it took 90, 16, and 15 seconds to make an exit from the puzzle box, respectively. In total, Thorndike ran his experiment 13 times with the same cat. And in the last five attempts, the cat garnered timestamps of 10, 8, 6, 6, 7 seconds, respectively. The end result was the epitome of the fact that the cat’s entering the puzzle box and escaping the same had now become a habit. In the same manner, Thorndike got success in showcasing that human habits are the results of the tasks they choose to perform daily. That said, the cats are quite a quick learner of things and useful creatures, no?

If they had wings, they would have learned to fly much quicker. Cats making their children learn how to fly—oh! it would be such a lively scenario. Do you know cats are meat-eaters? If you are frustrated with a bunch of rats in your house and you want to get rid of the brigade, I would recommend you not to buy rat killers. Instead, you could bring in a cat from your neighbourhood and enjoy the cat-and-mouse chase. It is, in fact, scientifically proven that cats need to consume meat to maintain a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system. It is a necessity for them, as it is for humans.

So, what if they had wings? they would have ended up seeing birds as their prey and catching them in the sky. If the temptation of witnessing a cat-and-bird chase is put aside, it would have definitely endangered the biodiversity of the Earth. And consequently, the food pyramid would soon perish, as would the life on this planet.

It would have been a spectacle but not something that would allow the world to survive. You are practically alive today because cats don’t have wings. So, take good care of your neighbourhood's kitty from today and please avoid throwing water, crackers or anything harmful at them! “Take respect and get respect” should be the policy in the human-animal relationship going forward.

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Hey, this is Jyotirmoy Halder, hoping to distract your thoughts and test your patience every Sunday here on “The Sunday Hazard”.

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Jyotirmoy Halder

Jyotirmoy Halder

Hey, this is Jyotirmoy Halder, hoping to distract your thoughts and test your patience every Sunday here on “The Sunday Hazard”.

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