Caturday Tails

Holly, Pereque & Orlando,
Who Walked, Fell & Picked

How could a cat walk 200 miles and find her way back home? How many lives are left, after surviving a five-store fall? How much of picking stocks can be assigned to chance? Such were the questions we’ve asked last week, through the tales of three cats.
We’ll never know what drove Holly to spend two months walking back or how she knew what direction to take. Neither can we explain how Pereque fell onto a spiked fence but didn’t have any organ pierced. But if Orlando can beat professional investment wizards, what’s left to us?
Just an excuse to talk about cats, you may say, and who are we to begin arguing to the contrary. Except that it may give us pause to appreciate the mystery of these creatures, going to astonishing lengths to remain loyal to us. As to whether we even deserve such attention, we leave it to you to decide.
What made a four-year-old tortoiseshell, who disappeared in Daytona Beach, last November, to walk to the point of rendering her back paws to a nail-less, raw-flesh pulp, all the way to West Palm Beach, some 200 miles away? As an indoor cat, probabilities can’t even begin to explain it, and yet she made it.
The proof that Holly’s the same cat was an implanted chip, which has been useful for identifying lost pets. (Never mind that, at this point, there’s no reason for these chips to come without some sort of GPS too) In any event,  it’s doubtful their human companions wouldn’t recognize her after two months.
Explanations range from a little known but innate sense of direction that felines are supposed to have, to their excellent vision, which allows them to mark landmarks as they go. But since she traveled to Daytona Beach inside a R.V., the fact remains that she hardly had any chance to see those landmarks to begin with.
We’re not going into the ‘why’ did she do it, because we don’t believe in the cliche of calling cats callous self-serving individuals. Also, it goes without saying that despite domestication, they remain pretty close to a wild state, so possible nemesis along the way may have thought twice before messing around with such a fearless, albeit small and cute, predator.
Lastly, if you research similar cases, you’d find that there are dozens of previous examples of cats and other pets going to incredible odds and risks, just to be reunited with their human companions. Many never made it, of course. But we can think of only a handful of humans who would even consider it, given the circumstances.

The survivor of this week’s High Rise Syndrome is a three-year-old New York City local hero, and his prospects of fully recovery are excellent. We know now more than ever about what cats do when falling and just before reaching terminal velocity, and their rate of success surviving puts even the drunkest of humans to shame.
That’s because their secret is in relaxing their bodies so much as to counter the effects of gravity. We say only barely conscious people achieve that sort of relaxation, and even then, in most cases, it’s not enough: where Pereque had no compromised organ or bone after his fall, we’re sure we’d be pulverized by now if we’d attempted to do the same.
Evolution has taught felines a complex set of moves choreographed when most creatures are busy feeling terribly afraid of dying. While the rest of us would desperately move frantically our arms, to no recognizable benefit, cats probably have time to enjoy the rapidly descending panorama. And live, if not to tell, then to enjoy another purr.
Cats and pets and people falling or jumping from high rises is, of course, a common occurrence in cities, and ours truly is perhaps the one with the most. But regardless whether there was intention behind it or simply an accident, often to survive is not qualitatively significant comparing to the other option.
Bodies can be mangled, brains can be impaired for life, and our days, as we used to know them, may never repeat. So, it may be something to consider if not before, then while you’re trying to calm yourself on your accelerating way down, and happen to remember what you read here. For Pereque, though, that was not it and ASPCA is looking for a home for him. Interested?

Lacking of better things to do was not an excuse for The Observer, of London, to kill time last year. One of their most interesting ways of doing it was an unusual experiment: give a panel of stock-picking professionals and a cat a little under $8,000 to be invested in a portfolio of five companies listed on the FTSE.
The investment wizards went about their job, making bold choices and picking winners up to September, when they had generated some $770 in profit. The poor feline, hahaha, was following far behind, at only $460. Things seemed to be tracking the pseudo-natural order of things, human superiority and all that.
By the way, Orlando was selecting stocks by throwing his favorite toy mouse on a grid of numbers allocated to different companies. Perhaps the so-called professionals should try the same. In a stunning turnaround, by the last quarter, his portfolio had increased by an average of 4.2%, beating them all by a difference of almost $580.
Look who’s laughing now. Certainly not Orlando, who couldn’t care less about the whole charade. Probably neither those who make a living picking stocks for investors, using other people’s money. Can you imagine if the word spreads out? Oh, actually it already did, but they’re still making a killing, specially on the back of those who haven’t yet read the memo.
The ‘random walk hypothesis’ is a thesis first explained by economist Burton Malkiel in his A Random Walk Down Wall Street book. It goes something like this: all you read, all the studies you hire people to develop, all the time you spend monitoring stock prices is all but wasted. Or rather, it is wasted.
At the end of the day, according to Burkiel, share prices are utterly unpredictable and you’re more likely to make some dough out of, say, creating better ways to spend your time, than throwing cash into stocks. Which, of course, is no deterrent to fortunes gained and fortunes lost at that place you wouldn’t find a cat around: the markets.
So, if you had any doubts about how quickly you could turn your weekend into something you didn’t know before, congratulations: you’ve just won the few minutes spent reading this in pure, crystalline, and intriguing knowledge. Now, do Holly, Pereque and Orlando a favor, and take a walk to forget all about it, will ya?
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Please, type CATS on the search field and you’ll be overwhelmed by how much time we’ve spent writing about them. Enjoy it.

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