PhysicsLesson

CatPhysics
"I needed to no more than generally understand how the slope of my stance might influence my ability to respond …"

Since our new kitten Max arrived three weeks ago, he has slowly expanded to fill every square inch of The Villa. Wherever I go, he's already there, though often hidden until I pass, whereby he pounces, perhaps targeting the leather laces on my slippers, which long ago proved themselves capable of untying themselves, though they seem to welcome a cat claw's assistance. Each pounce seems a PhysicsLesson involving opposing forces, vectors, and gravity. Always gravity. Max, who weighs only a pound or two encased in fluffy fur, executes many pratfalls, none seeming to leave any lasting damage and none dissuading him from additional attempts to understand how the physical world surrounding him works. It's one PhysicsLesson after another from long before dawn until an hour or more after I've laid my own burden down in bed.

I woke a few nights ago to find him sleeping on my head, though I didn't immediately understanding that I'd been shanghaied into the role of lab rat in yet another PhysicsLesson.
How many cats can repose on a single pinhead? The tentative answer seems to be one, though the balance seems impermanent, requiring supplemental claw holds to maintain for very long. Max has transformed every cubic inch of The Villa into his physics lab, with The Muse and I, and every one of our possessions, inputs into endless fresh experiments. How many paw strokes does it take to empty the dry food bowl onto the kitchen floor? This experiment needed successive repetition to perhaps arrive at an average value. We never did discover the purpose of the question, though it seemed all-consuming in our budding researcher for a few days before apparently passing into the realm of known science requiring no further experimentation. Thank heavens.

The catnip-filled yellow fabric banana attached to a long string seems the object of greatest enduring interest. I threw out my shoulder lobbing that danged thing across the sitting room. Max stalks it, pounces on it, and sometimes performs full backflips with a twist attempting to track its trajectory. The string seems no less fascinating as it produces endless pounce-worthy waves which seem to confuse our young scientist. The string seems to need plenty of punishment, typically frantic clawing and even energetic biting, to keep it in line, which it has so far shown little interest in conforming to. Further, it slides and skips back toward me following every cast, a process we refer to as Kitty Fishing, a class of activity with dozens of PhysicsLessons imbedded in it.

I figure that Max, being six months old, must be about the equivalent of a three year old human. Three year old humans also engage in PhysicsLessons, though few advance to Max's level at their tender age. Max might look all soft and fuzzy, but he's already a fierce researcher, perfectly willing to claw and bite to discover his way in this world. He's currently mastering the fundamentals of flight. He stealthily slinks to a too-narrow space beside the kitchen garbage can to observe the magpies when they arrive to clean up his last night's leftovers from the deck. He, of course, fancies himself invisible when he stalks, a presumption which sometimes almost seems to hold true. He adjusts his slink angles hoping to improve his position, perhaps even conjuring up complicated formulas in his head. Tentative conclusions seem to be convening in his head as a result.

He seems much more at ease in his world than he appeared when he first arrived fresh from the shelter and mostly still feral. I hold no doubt that he's been learning. I recognize that I followed a similar route when learning my elemental physics and that a stadium filled with egghead Einsteins could not have helped me with my lessons. When I'd grown enough to start studying physicist physics, I found their work basically irrelevant, their formulas fine for what they might be worth, but worthless for informing me. I, like Max, never needed the precision, for my physics, then as well as now, focuses upon GlancingKnows. I needed to no more than generally understand how the slope of my stance might influence my ability to react, not a value carried to five significant decimal places, and I only sometimes ever need to appreciate that only a single cat could ever balance upon a single pinhead, especially if that pinhead is my own.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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