A fox Family has moved into our neighborhood, only about six houses away. The people, on whose property he is camped, think that Mrs. Fox is always home with the only kit, an almost teenager by now, who typically just lays around the house doing nothing. That means Mr. Fox is responsible for feeding the whole family and that requires a lot of work. Mr. Fox has to be on the go all the time and that brings him by our house at least twice a day.
At first, we were thrilled but Precious Mae is very upset, and that bothers us. This is her home too, and she doesn’t like strangers barging in. When the strangers are people, our friends, we tell her she will just have to suck it up because all our friends are safe. We thought that the fox would be safe too – after all, they are about the same size and I would always bet on a cat over a same sized dog – but Precious Mae is too afraid to trust us on this. And maybe she is right, several days ago, Mr. Fox jumped up on the deck railing so he could look into the house, and last Friday, the fox pooped on our welcome mat making it clear that he regards this as his territory. Precious Mae now spends a good portion of her day, hiding under the dining table, staring out the open door.
The point that I want to make is that these two souls, or beings, if you prefer, are individuals. Our previous cat, Spike, would have behaved entirely differently and a different fox would also. I am reading a book about octopuses, and octopuses are further from foxes, or cats, than our imagination can take us. Whenever we meet aliens in a science fiction movie, they are, roughly, humanoid with a head on top, then the body with the legs attached; but octopuses have the body on top, and their head is attached to their legs, octopuses’ blood is blue – because they use copper to hold the oxygen in their blood rather than iron like us – they have three hearts, and part of their brain is in each of their legs. Still, Sy Montgomery, the author of The Soul of an Octopus, makes the point that each octopus she encounters is an individual, just like the fox, or one of our cats, and each one has a different personality.
As an aside, I really recommend The Soul of an Octopus. We all know that octopuses are smart but they are really smart. For example, they can unscrew the cap from a jar, take out their food, and screw the cap back on. They remember different people as individuals and interact with each one differently and they can multitask. One of the most amazing things about octopuses is that they grow very fast and learn very fast because they only live for about three to five years. If you are interested in animals or SCUBA diving, check this book out. End aside