Out of all Wight's stories I think these have to be my favorite ones.
I'm a total sucker for cats, so I guess that makes me partisan. I enjoy watching neighborhood cats roam freely in "our" backyard. I never miss a chance to pet one if they allow me the honor. Hell, I might even be forced to do some jedi mind tricks from time to time in order to come to closer petting distances with them. Sometimes it works, too - provided there's enough time.
There is something otherworldly-like in those supremely selfish fur balls. Our cats were always on the porch, waiting, when we'd come back home from our longer trips. The times that I've witnessed cats "talk" have been spooky if not down right scary. This happens when they bitch mouth to other felines outside in the wee hours in complete darkness. But it could just as well happen in the broad daylight after they've eaten some grass etc. in order to flush all that hair out of their system once in a while.
The ominous sounds these felines are capable of producing is something you have to hear for yourself to believe it. Once, when I didn't at first even see our cat, he made these human-like sounds that I could have swore that my cat had just addressed me and started spewing me ultimatums like he was the devil himself. It felt quite possible worse when I actually saw him "speaking". No wonder cats and horror films/stories go together so well...
I must admit that sometimes I even borrow our neighbors cats for a short while by letting them wander inside the house if they want to. I make sure I never feed them though - intentionally or unintentionally - and I let them out the minute they express the desire to leave. When I was growing up we always had cats, so my love for cats is deep rooted. I miss the interaction. I miss having lost those moments for good when a purring cat is cuddled up next to you when you are sleeping or just lying on your bed or on the sofa.
I don't believe there can even exist an authority on cats, but I do claim to know a thing or two about what cats tend to like, what they tend to hate and what things in general motivate them and make them tick. Domesticated or not, cats want and need their freedom and (so-called) independence. Most, if not all, cats love to pick a fight. That's just part of their nature. Like most people I too suppose that helps to keep their killer instincts - and actual hunting skills - in check.
But on top of that, I do believe that they also just enjoy it for no particular reason. Like humans, cats are moody, unpredictable race. Instead of following the most direct imaginary line from point A to point B, they might execute a precision pre-emptive strike all of a sudden on the nearest innocent tree. And then continue on. Just for the hell of it. Just like a semi-weird (or just playful) person might.
In general cats do love to be petted but there's a fine line between getting empathy back and getting scratched. They probably don't intend to hurt you, but when a cat's claws are out, make no mistake: they are going to use them and you better hope you have quick reflexes. With practice one can learn to anticipate cat's mood swings. But only fail proof method is to leave the cat alone.
In a sense cats really are pretty rude and ungrateful assholes. While a well trained dog would never, or almost never, bite the hand that feeds, cats let you have it almost every time even when you've cohabited for years and years and know each other well. They also never forget to grant you with their patented evil look, either. When offended - rightly or wrongly - and If they could talk, they'd probably say something like this: "Well, I'll be damned sure to remember that one, you asshole! Just wait and see. Bud-dy
With cats you will always overstep your limits and you will always overstay your welcome. Because cats are moody. Just like people are moody. Only babies and dogs love you back unconditionally. With cats it's more or less always a love/hate -relationship. As it is with real human relationships as well. Dogs want to serve and protect you. Cats expect the same from you.
(Not that cats couldn't take care of themselves just fine. I've seen it happen too many times when foolish dogs come too close to cats who decide to have a showdown then and there. Some dogs are fast. All cats are faster. I can't tell which one takes less time: the time it takes for a cat to claw the dog's face, or the time it takes for the dog to run back to cover/to its master?)
Although I've always been somewhat allergic to cats, I can't help but still love their company. But long gone are the days when I could personally justify keeping a pet. It's one thing to eat animals, but it's another thing to argue an animal would prefer to live its whole life largely or solely indoors in any case.
I find animal shows particularly and the pet industry in general repulsive. I frequently have to question dog owners sanity when I see and hear about dogs who - by human design - have to suffer from pains and difficulties for our sake, for our own stupid vanity and/or self-inflicted "loneliness".
If you want a pet, you need to have an actual life style that allows having one. By and large it would mean moving to the country. You can't have all. And animals deserve better. Much better. It's that simple. If you are healthy enough to take care of a pet, you are healthy enough to move to the countryside as well.