Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Attitude May Be Everything......

......but where does it come from exactly?????

Attitude is a huge part of developing a character from a story. In fiction, we must have a reason for our character's beliefs, fears, desires, etc. And we write the backstory to support it.

But exactly how much of what we are do you think comes from dna?

Take for instance the optimist versus the pessimist. Is it a learned behavoir or an inherited one. Nature versus nuture - the age-old argument. I think I have an answer to this one and it's because of my cat, Marie, that I've come to this conclusion. But first, a little backstory:

Marie and her brother Vinnie were part of a litter of feral kittens found under an air conditioning unit at my husband's job. Thank God he managed to give away the other six before he got home with the last two. They were about five weeks old, cute and fluffy, and mad as hell. They spent the vast majority of the first week hissing and spitting until they finally figured out that we had: a) indoor plumbing (litter box), b) opposible thumbs which open cat food, c) cool toys which we would drag around the floor, and d) warm laps to curl up in.

These kittens were so young when we got them that they literally came "off the teet" so to speak. They were nice and fat, like kittens should be, and in great overall health according to our vet. Now, I am of the belief that you do not attempt to feed cats at a certain time of the day, because 1) they will haunt you with their mewing if you try it and 2) a happy cat uses their litter box. So I've always subscribed to the theory that you leave a bowl of food out all the time. It's been that way since the beginning. Granted, I switched to the healthy weight management variety when bellies started to sag a bit, but the bowl is still out and has food 24-7.

So Marie is quite literally an animal that has never once known starvation or doing without, but she exihibits an interesting behavoir - she is the bowl monitor. If she can see an empty spot in the bowl (like in the center when they've all eaten from the middle and not the sides), she will raise absolute hell until you cover the spot. She will walk in front of you bawling, curve in between your legs trying to trip you and once, she even threw herself against the first door not wanting me to leave.

Apparently, for Marie, the bowl is always half full.

So my cat is a pessimist. I truly think that she believes if the bowl is not full when we leave the house that she may starve. Mind you, 9 times out of 10, when she pulls this stunt and you fill the bowl, she only looks at it then walks away. It's never about her wanting the food THEN, but she must be planning for something - a kitty apocalypse, maybe?

So what do you think: pessimism versus optimism - nature or nurture?


Anonymous said...

I can't comment right now on pessimism v optimism (it's too early to think that hard). But I have a feline drama queen who is absolutely positive that she is going to STARVE TO DEATH if her food isn't at least completely covering the bottom of her bowl. Sometimes, she fusses even if the bowl is full, but I think that's because she's decided the other cat spit in it and thus she needs FRESH.

Nice to know my cat isn't the only histrionic lady out there. ;=)

Pink Pelican

Jana DeLeon said...

ROFLOL, Pink - I never thought about the "tainted food" angle. That is toooooo funny!

Tori Lennox said...

I'm sometimes fairly pessimistic, but if my do that it pisses me off and I ask them why they can't be more positive. *g* Logical is NOT my middle name. LOL!

Sassy Sistah said...

Don't know the answer to the nature/nurture question - a bit of both - if I had to guess.

But your post made me laugh because my dearly, departed Felix was exactly the same way. A bare spot in the bowl? Time for kitty hysterics. I'd had him (and his brother) since they were born. He had NEVER been hungry a day in his life (and I subscribe to available food 24/7, as well) - but boy - that bowl better not have a bare spot. I miss him.

I posted a link to Killer Fiction, by the way. Hope some folks check it out. It's a terrific blog!

Jana DeLeon said...

tori - I tend to lend more towards pessimisn than optimism myself, although I am *trying* to get better. :)

LOL sassy - apparently it's just a "cat" thing! I'm glad to know I don't have the only crazy furball in the bunch. And thanks so much for adding the link! I'm really glad you're enjoying the new blog.

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