How Cats Appeal to Our Inner Masochist

A cat laying in the shade on cement

Original photo. “Cat at the Market.” June 2014.

Like most cat admirers, my adoration for felines is intense and mostly likely pathological in nature.

Why do we love cats? My current theory is that they tie in to our innate need for selective approval. It feeds the ego, to love something as temperamental as a homemade hollandaise. It is as Heather, the farmer’s market manager that greeted us today on our visit, so succinctly said about the market tabby, “This is Bruiser. If he likes your attention you should feel special, because he doesn’t like everyone’s attention.”

Dogs love everyone. They are bright and bouncy balls of energetic life. They wrap everyone around them in their zealousness. Come on! they say through tail wags and barks, let’s go out and play! Whereas a cat would rarely say such a thing, if they could talk. Cats judge and determine if you are worthy. Which seems absolutely bananas to a dog person — but the masochistic undertones are, in my opinion, an integral part of the appeal of cats.

It was a nice surprise to find a cat among the tomatoes. In fact, we found a small, vibrant orange cat hair resting on the surface of one ripe red fruit, and the boyfriend immediately declared that we had to buy it.

That is the kind of cat freaks we are – buying a cat-hair tomato.

We met Bruiser because all of the other local farmer’s markets were either closed for the day or not open for the season, and my produce basket had finally run dry. Thus the handling peppers and eyeing bargain baskets of tomatoes and strawberries while also counting the paw prints engraved in long-dried cement.

I bought the most produce from a pleasant woman named Alice, who valiantly weighed our selections three separate times on an apparently faulty scale. From her we purchased four lemons, three cucumbers, six tomatoes, and a heaping bag of string beans. Later we would snag a bag of spinach and white sweet corn from the stall next door, and even later than that, when we were starting to get hot and sticky, I treated us to some handmade vanilla ice cream and lemon sorbet — the former for him, the latter for me. We both bought an extra scoop that we could barely finish. But it was nice to pick at the shaggy ice with my spoon and talk about nothing.

We were easily the youngest people there, other than children forcibly detained by their parents. On of the shops was actually a diner with simple printed menus taped to the door, and when we peered through the curtains, you could see elderly couples sitting down to a meal. I wondered what their stories were as we passed by.

All in all, a nice day. We’ve already made plans to return.


Are you also a cook that likes cats? Or are you more of a dog person? Would you ever buy a cat-hair tomato? What do you think about businesses that own pets?