Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cat People

No question what the theme for this post is.  Cat people.  This has been the pulse of my RP in SL for a long time, and likely will remain a pulse within me even after SL.  Neko seems so confined, and werecat is such a small niche, but it's one that I think can be just as interesting, if not more so than the werewolves.  My characters have had the ability to change, even if it wasn't particularly allowed in Midian.  Regardless, people still RPed with my feral neko and four legged leopard, and it was fun.  If I could find a sim that would allow such, I would try to RP it out in some manner to be sure.

But more so, and going more general, cat people can come in various species, such as the neko and werecat mentioned.  And they sometimes blend, depending how a person RPs their cat character.  For me, there are three potentials of the types I've played.  These, I'd call neko, werecat, and hybrid.

Neko is a catch all name for cat people in SL.  It wasn't the first name, but it was the one that stuck.  The old cats, from what I have read, often just called themselves cat persons, and had a general belief in the cat persona being a part of them, and not just merely something they put on for fashion or just a RP character.  It was their way and what felt natural for them in SL.  Some nekos have this or a similar belief, but not all.  After all, neko also originates from a Japanese style of playing 'cute'. And because this style is primarily female, some nekos originating from this trend consider that 'neko' should only refer to cat girls.  However, Japanese animation has had a few references to cat boys, or guys with features of a cat in some manner.  Black Cat's main character is one example, as Train Heartnet's eyes are often perceived as being like a cat's eyes, and his persona as a stray cat.  But, for the most part, the primarily human features given to most nekos gives the impression that what makes neko is mainly having cat ears and tail - and sometimes just down to being human with a cat-like style or some type of attitude, or 'cattitude', as some call it.  Yet, there are some nekos that are a bit more furry, for fuzzy, having short haired skins patterned in both the ways that house cats and the big cats of the wild have, such as tabby, calico, leopard, and tiger skins.

Werecat is much a mixed form as neko.  How to explain it, I would say has some dependence on the idea of shape shifting, or maybe having two parts to the persona of a neko or cat person of the more 'human' style and the 'feral'.  That is to be able to switch between such shapes and personalities considered human and something more animal or beast-like.  Werewolves are a common character, to which werecat has partial origins in, because they are so similar.  Not to mention the cat and dog play that goes on between the concept of werecats and werewolves being within the same environment.  The similarities, as I see it, and besides the shapeshifting ability, potential of being 'moon called' (that is, the moon or 'luna' having a particular power over the animal side, or the play on the 'madness' and concept of lunacy originating from the moon), the one important aspect that is shared is that of the human/animal nature.  In theological terms, the make up of 'human' has been envisioned in various ways as being of three parts - an 'angelic' or spiritual nature, the human cognitive creature, and the beastly/animal creature.  Sometimes, the idea has been mainly summed up that humanness is some in between, or part divine and part animal.  Thus, beliefs, and the more origin of the horrific aspect of were creatures is the idea of a human being overcome by the beast.  For the beast to be conjured up, not just in terms of mental state, but even that graphical state of being formed into an animal. Of course, not all looked at such as a curse, but the concept of being 'lowered' to the level of pure animal was one way in which people looked at this idea as a curse.  Some of the characters changed in various were-stories, such as the classic Wolfman, or the particular one highlighted above, Cat People, would agree that the change was a curse, and often ended in tagedy.  However, a more modern concept that gives were's and 'preternaturals' more leeway to be seen in a societal way is Patricia Briggs' novels about werewolves who's American leader is called the Marrok, and lives in Montana.  They have a sort of underworld feel, and the life is practically like mafia or gangs in general, but you still want to see the main characters as having strength, resilience and desire to live within human society and somehow co-exist.  However, controlling the beast can be hard, and those that can't have to be 'taken care of' and led to a tragic end.  In many ways, it's a play on social Darwinism as much as it is on theological concepts of what makes a human.  Science, philosophy, and theology all have a particular range within this particular form of cat people species, which is probably why were-creatures are prominent in much fantasy and science fiction (particularly the steampunk genre, in consideration to it's Victorian emphasis), and is becoming part of the more mainstream 'urban' fiction being published today.  Cat people of this nature tend to sway towards the big cats (leopard, tiger, jaguar, panther, lion, etc.)  and have a four legged counterpart to them.  They may have a primary form of human or neko in every day appearance.

The hybrid is just that.  As neko is such a generic term for cat people, both werecats and nekos can be called hybrids.  Hybrids in general encompass more than just nekos and werecats as well.  Werewolves, even if the 'purists' of this species of human-wolf concept don't want to admit it, the fact that they do have a human part, and either a wolf part and/or bestial bipedal mixture of both - , such features make them a hybrid by their very nature.  In my RP, I have seen fox (kitsune), coyote, snake/reptile, mouse and rat, and even just general dog (inu) hybrids.  The diversity of hybrids is incredible, and the types of stories that can develop from them is only limited to the imagination and creativity of those who RP or the authors that may choose to tell the stories of them.

At any rate, these are three general definitions that make up, or are used by cat people to describe themselves.  It's not an extensive, nor end all, be all definition, but these give some basics on the concept.  And being able to be immersed in the concept, and letting out the cattitude in my persona were a few of the reasons I have enjoyed playing and being a cat person on SL.  It is one reason I strive to find places where I can RP and, essentially, just 'be' in one of my various feline characters and forms.  A place open to accept this, I am open to accept them.  A place that doesn't, then, as the old phrase goes, I'll excutere pulverem de pedibus meis (Matt. 10: 14, see English text).

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