A Cat Named Darwin
Bill Jordan's life changed forever the day a stray cat nesting under his bougainvillea bit him on the hand. A reformed biologist, Jordan had no particular love for animals and felt vaguely contemptuous of those who did — until the cat, beckoning with a wink and a yawn, led him on a journey to exotic lands, strange cultures, and fascinating discoveries. As their bond deepened and the cat's health began to fail, Jordan was forced into a commitment more devoted and sincere than any he had known before. Puzzling through his own feelings, he came to some remarkable conclusions: that those we love live in the synapses and molecules of memory, and that as long as we exist, they exist as part of our brain. It doesn't matter to our neurons whether the loved one is animal or human; the mechanism is the same. Even so, the two relationships are quite different: A cat is a creature with whom one shares solitude; with a human being, on the other hand, solitude generally means a failed relationship. And while communion with animals is usually considered inferior to communication with human beings, the truth is that the need for companionship is a human trait. In the absence of other companionship, the human mind will grow around any living thing like a vine. Bill Jordan learned that the first time your mind grows around a cat, you don’t realize you have fallen in love until it’s too late.