The Semiotics of Cat Swatting

Cats, it appears, are always being batted at by broom-wielding matrons in old cartoons and fairy tale illustrations.  They have presumably done something to deserve it, or else the matrons in question, cheated of careers in hockey or golf, are re-capturing the glory of young girlhood at the expense of their domestic animals.  Roughly sketched, those always seemed to me the two interpretive possibilities. 

Now, however, I stumble on a third.  No sooner have I picked up the broom and begun sweeping the kitchen floor in the evening than our cat, from whatever corner she was dozing in, infallibly appears and puts herself directly in the way.  She has not, to my knowledge, been naughty; and I never cared for golf or hockey.  Nonetheless, I am instantly transformed into a crotchety matron (patron?) launching kitty from the kitchen.

This happens too often to be mere coincidence, and so I wonder if the old image of the cat getting batted with a broom is not, after all, a symbol of household transgression receiving its just reward, or of swatter’s regret for missed chances at sports stardom.  Maybe, instead, it’s a revelation of some unguessed perversity of feline nature: Maybe cats just like a good spanking now and then.

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3 Comments

Filed under Levity

3 responses to “The Semiotics of Cat Swatting

  1. In the 20th we came to associate the feline with the shoebox, but it appears that with the broom you have discovered a new binary for this century. This could be worrying to felines, who pride themselves on their well-kept secrets. Your resident cat’s lack of congeniality may in fact be recognition of your discerning gaze.

  2. Ian Wolcott

    Schrodinger, step aside.

  3. Housekeeper, broom, and cat (together): When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

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