Cindy, the Piano Cat

November 24, 2010

Today, Cindy played her first notes on the piano. The result was not quite as sophisticated as the music of Nora, the piano cat from Philadelphia, who became a YouTube star four years ago. But everybody has to start small, even the most talented individuals need to increase their skills one step at a time by regular and methodical practice.

I doubt though, that Cindy will be practicing regularly on the piano. Her interests are rather in the field of outdoor activities like catching mice in the adjacent forest, climbing to the top of the highest trees and racing at top speed through the various pathways of the forest . These are disciplines, that she is practicing several hours a day and she has indeed reached a mastery that is unsurpassed by any other cat.

It is a gray and dreary November day here and it is drizzling, that means, it is uncomfortably cold and wet outside. The bad weather is the reason, that Cindy today was spending some time in my music studio.

After she tried the piano Cindy laid down in front of me as I was practicing guitar. Cindy likes to be touched and fondled on her belly. It therefore was not unexpected when she rolled over on her back and looked at me in appreciation till I put the guitar on the stand and kneeled down beside her. When I rubbed her belly she stretched the whole body and purred and put all her four paws upwards. After a few minutes I told her that I had to continue practicing and she was accepting it and laid down again beside my feet while I continued my practice routines.

For ten years the piano was my preferred instrument but one year ago I decided to refocus on the guitar because I want to make final and authoritative recordings of all my guitar compositions and this endeavor needs thorough preparation and consumes all my spare time and energy.

Cindy will most probably also not be a guitar cat. And none of her fellow cats will be. Wendy, Rosy, Min Ki and Sumo (alias Indi) are all not especially interested in music instruments. Lizzy produced occasionally some notes when she scratched across the guitar strings. Lizzy sadly died in June — and I miss her so much!

When I wrote before, that my cats are not interested in music instruments, I was not quite correct. Some cats love to lash out at the bell tree and the wind chimes and they are intrigued by the resulting sounds. And all cats like the bass drum! Inside the bass drum is a soft pillow (originally intended to dampen the sound) and the hole in the front head is just big enough so that they can climb in and spend some time on the pillow. Normally an AKG D12 mike would be mounted inside the drum but as the cats use the bass drum more often than anybody else I have removed it and only put it in when it is needed for recordings.

Cindy has a very good voice and a loud voice. When she comes home in the early morning just before daybreak she meows in front of my sleeping room door and scratches at the door and she never fails to wake me up. Sometimes I go up and let her in and she then cuddles in the blanket near my feet or preferably in the eiderdown if I use one. More often however Cindy meows and scratches in vain because I’m simply too tired and sleepy to go up. She usually stops after a minute and goes down to the kitchen to look if there is some dry food left in the cups and I fall asleep again, dreaming of sweet little cats and kittens.

Maybe we could start a cat gospel choir. I once conducted a gospel choir and though that enterprise ended ten years ago I still have all the materials and retained some knowledge.

Cindy is now more than two years old and she is still growing. She is bigger than Rosy and probably the strongest cat after Min Ki, though she fortunately has not realized that yet. I’m not sure that she would treat the weaker cats as respectful as she does now if she would be aware of her strength.

I recollect the memory of Cindy’s early youth, her life threatening sicknesses and the desperate efforts to keep her alive. It was worth the effort. She is a wild cat and an unruly and rambunctious cat, but Cindy and I have a special relation. I saved her life and she knows that.

I remember the scene clearly when I passed the abandoned farmhouse and she run after me, a desperately meowing tiny kitten. I put her into my bike basket to carry her home and she laid quietly there with closed eyes and didn’t move for the whole duration of this first and maybe also only bike ride of her life. She just wanted to survive, she wanted to be rescued from the abandoned farmhouse. She realized somehow that this was her only chance.

Rescuing a little kitten from certain death is not a big deal. Or I should better say, it will not be considered as a special achievement by most people. Should I be proud of it? Considering the fact, that Cindy is now a fierce predator who kills mice, birds, voles, squirrels, snakes and all kind of other animals, it was not an action that benefitted nature. Cindy by the way is not the first cat, that I saved, in 2002 I rescued Lizzy. Lizzy with only three paws was very limited in her hunting abilities and never did any ecological harm. May I mention, that I also rescued quite a few hedgehog babies and accommodated them over winter?

I’m not kidding myself, cats are an invasive species, cats are carnivores and murderous predators that kill for fun! Even the indoor cats cause considerable ecological damage because their food is processed in big meat factories, packaged in tin cans and shipped over long distances.

Cats on the other hand are also ambassadors of nature, they help us understand and appreciate our fellow animals. Cats are great teachers and the most efficient lobbyists for the animal kingdom. They teach us to respect and protect other creatures. If one considers how much cats have formed the attitudes and opinions of humans their ecological balance sheet is maybe not in the reds at all!

I really would like to make friends with dolphins, whales, bonobos or elephants. But that is very unlikely to happen. Bonobos are an endangered species and should be left alone, they are also not used to live together with humans. A bonobo would for sure not be happy with the climate here. Elephants would be great companions, they are maybe the most intelligent creatures on this planet and they are the most ethical ones. An elephant could live here, I would make a walk with him every day as I do now with my cats, I would talk with him and we would soon develop our personal language and we would be able to communicate our deepest thoughts.

It is an exciting idea, it is a great dream, yet it is unlikely to happen. There will not be an abandoned farmhouse and a little elephant calf running after me desperately trumpeting for help. An elephant friend would be wonderful but also very unpractical. An elephant could not lay down beside my feet in my music studio, as Cindy did today. Wales and dolphins by the way also couldn’t do that.

I think, I should be content with my cats!

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