The title of this post is a well known phrase. Sir Patrick Moore said it, as have many people before him including Jean Cocteau, who said it in a different way. Ruth, regular contributor, quoted another version: “A house is not a home without a cat”. The question I ask myself is, what exactly is going on? What does this phrase really mean?
Firstly, a good half of the population of the USA would not agree with it because they don’t keep a cat companion. Or perhaps some do agree but are unable to keep a cat.
Secondly, what about the dog? Is there a similar phrase for the dog companion? Or is he and other animals excluded?
I don’t know of any work on this phrase but even if there was some out there on the internet I would rather try and figure it out on my own and put my own spin on it. Of course, I welcome the comments and ideas of visitors.
My Personal Theory
The word “soul” is usually used in relation to people and animals, but normally people. For me, it means the spirit of the person, which is the core of the person’s being and which lives on after death.
In relation to a house it probably refers to the spirit in the house. In this context I think “spirit” means that the house has a sense of life, joy, completeness and balance. I think the “balance” or wholeness of a house is important.
The domestic cat is a wonderful representative of nature. She is a top predator and supremely agile. A cat adds a dimension to the feeling within a house, without which the house is missing something. But what is it missing?
My personal view is that our cat companion connects us with nature and in doing so makes us whole. Due to our so called intelligence we have a tendency to distance ourselves almost casually and inadvertently from nature. Yet nature is our mother and father. We are part of it. If we distance ourselves from it we are orphans, lost, chasing something that we don’t understand. The blame for this is probably technology.
The male of the human species runs the world and he likes to create new technology, which leads us away from nature, the natural organic world.
A cat companion reminds us that we are part of nature, that we are a species of animal and that we can and should live in harmony with other animals.
The cat brings the spirit of the animal world into our homes, keeps us connected with our roots, which if we go back far enough is nature.
Now, that is my theory and it might be a very personal one. I don’t know if it is mumbo jumbo or not. I feel it is correct. We should trust our feelings.
If I am correct, it doesn’t really matter if a person lives with a cat or a dog; there is the same benefit. Although the cat will ground a person better because a dog will treat a person as a master, which is unhealthy, I think. People need to be a little bit more humble. Cats help us be humble. Dogs might assist in our gradual distancing from nature.
If you are religious and believe in a God, I think it is fair to say that humankind is becoming more secular, which I think it a symptom of our gradual distancing from nature.