This post provides no answer to the question it poses. The only definitive answer would come from a highly intelligent, very evolved cat. Since that won’t occur for tens of thousands of years, if ever, can we play with possible likelihoods? After all, we and cats understand each other well enough for some kind of communication to take place, for some kind of bridge or affection to exist between us, some kind of attraction. I like to think we can.
Cat is willing to regard all manner of things in the mirror: the ceiling lamp, the counter before it, things in the room, less often other cats and, reluctantly, the human holding it. But if it eyes itself, it is at the outset and seemingly by accident. It may notice its paws dangling over my arm. Perhaps, its chest. But if it meets its own eyes, there is a brief intensity, a question asked, recognition, then its eyes avert and it refuses to acknowledge its reflection again. Why?
Dogs, if they notice themselves at all, have a fleeting interest, then find other things more appealing: things with scent. Birds, on the other hand, are fascinated by their image. I once had a love bird who would fly to the mirror and hover in place, watching herself fly. She did this often. But cats… ?
Is the perception of self a terrifying thing? Until its first encounter with its mirror image, for a cat, self is always within and looking out. Does being outside looking back so disturb its reality it recoils, turns away, denies?
And doesn’t that behavior mirror our own when we must face ourselves and confront some startling truth? Our reality is upended, our way of looking at things permanently altered if we acknowledge what we see. Do we recoil, turn away, deny?
Oh! And isn’t drawing parallels a nice way to enter the heart of our protagonist?
I know this is an odd post, but as a writer I frequently look at odd things from an odd perspective.