Mine Nayuka has gained much popularity through work such as ‘Arasa-chan,’ a four-panel comic that frankly depicts the romantic issues of age 30-ish women, as well as her regular column that sympathizes with the female audience of the same generation. She currently lives with a ten-year old Persian Chinchilla named ‘Pussy.’ A self-professed lover of ‘beautiful women and beautiful things,’ we interviewed Mine-san about the beauty and charm of cats.
A white and fluffy cat
– How did you first meet Pussy?
“My friends always told me that I looked like the kind of person who should own a white, fluffy cat. Moreover, I always used to fantasize about a situation in which a man presented me with a cat as a gift. So I coaxed my boyfriend at the time to get me a white, fluffy cat for my birthday. So that’s how Pussy came into my life.”
– Was it your first time to have a cat?
“I had wanted to own a cat since I was a little girl. My parents were cat lovers, too. Because they love cats so much, they told me that it would be too sad to deal with when it eventually dies. Therefore, it was out of the question. When I turned nineteen, however, I moved into an apartment that allowed cats. That when I got Pussy. I naturally liked taking care of animals because I used to have some goldfish. However, I think the cats are the best.”
– Is there a reason for your obsession with cats?
“I love cats just because I love beautiful things. I think cats are more beautiful and noble than dogs. I think my fondness for cats is similar to how some people obsess over dragons and unicorns. It is almost like the longing for an imaginary animal. That’s what I feel when I look at cats.”
– Have you made any new discoveries by living alongside Pussy?
“I thought we’d get along right away, but he was hiding for a while when he first came to live at my house. I would notice that his food was slowly disappearing, but I didn’t actually see him. It took about a month before he got used to me. And you know, cat pupils close vertically, right? I didn’t know that so I was shocked when I saw it for the first time. I actually took him to the vet right away because I thought he was ill (laughs). I took him to the vet again when his fur got hair balls because I didn’t know what to do. Even though he has long hair, he hates being brushed. These days I just cut those hair balls when I find them.”
A bossy roommate
– Please tell us about Pussy’s character.
“He always gets angry when we have guests. He’ll never get used to them, it seems. He doesn’t like being touched. Since he is my first cat, I thought that this was how all cats are. But after asking other cat owners, I realized that it’s rare for cats to be as violent as him. He gets friendly when I give him some distance or am doing nothing. But still, he won’t play with toys and he doesn’t sleep with me in bed.”
– So what kind of relationship have you and Pussy developed?
“He is my roommate and superior. I sense that he thinks something like, ‘Yeah I recognize you as a person, but I am better than you.’ – like he is my boss or something. I wouldn’t like it at all if I actually had to share a room with my boss (laughs).”
– Do you think that Pussy understands the things you say?
“Oh, I don’t know. When you read cat comics, you see cats monologuing about their feelings. Like they want to play or they are jealous of other cats. I always wonder how authors can know what cats are feeling. I have no idea whatsoever about what Pussy is thinking. When he gives me a threatening growl, I can tell that he is angry, but that’s about as far as I can get. I would never understand all the workings of his mind.”
– Because you have lived with the same cat for ten years, he must have met a lot of your friends and lovers. Can you gauge their personalities based on the way they communicate with Pussy?
“Hmm, I think most of my boyfriends were well-liked by Pussy. Most of them were cat lovers. I think cat lovers like to stay indoors, which matches my tastes. When someone says he is a dog person, I know that our values will never match. Dog lovers are all communicative and have many friends. I’m not good at dealing with that kind of person. The famous movie directer, the late Itami Jyuzo, was also a cat lover. He dismissed dog lovers in his essay titled ‘Women!’ (laughs). Cat lovers are sourpusses, they will go to extra trouble to deny dog lovers.”
The love of the noble and the beautiful – women and cats
– Do you think your own personality is cat-like?
“I think I am more of a dog. I like being at the bottom of the pyramid. I love being given orders to go get the bone. I like being bossed around. Some people think I am more of an arrogant cat-like person because I love beautiful and noble things – and I expect women to act as such. However, unless a woman looks good, they won’t be able to maintain their nobility. And I do love a proud, noble person. Another thing, I don’t like heartwarming photos of cats. I have no interest in them. So I found this twitter account called ‘SpaceCats,’ and I went, ‘Yes! This is what I’ve been looking for!’ I like cats that are so noble they can ‘conquer the galaxy.’ So, Pussy doesn’t have to be lovey-dovey or touchy-feely. She doesn’t have to come into my bed to snuggle. She doesn’t have to act like a bitch.”
– As much as you love and want to touch your cat, you also want to keep a comfortable distance in your relationship. Is this the same way you feel about people?
“Though I said I love beautiful women, that doesn’t mean I want to date them. While living life and having sex and all the daily things I can do with men, I just want to see beautiful women every now and then. That’s a good distance. Maybe I am deifying cats and beautiful women.”
– Have you ever felt like making a comic about a cat?
“Not for now. I wanted to have a cat in ‘Arasa-chan,’ but I couldn’t figure out how to treat it within the context. That was surprising to me. Particularly given my style of work, animal stories are kinda hard – since I can never end a story in a heartwarming way. If I ever depict a cat, it won’t show the ordinary life of a cat, but more like a major spectacle – like a war story or something. I don’t mind reading stories that are written from a cat’s perspective, like “I am a Cat” by Natsume Soseki, in which a cat observes the foolish lives of human beings.”
– What’s the best thing about living with a cat?
“It’s not that something got better since I started living with a cat, but rather, the first nineteen years of my life without a cat were not so good. I was missing the ‘cat factor’ in my life. Once there was a cat, I became a whole person. A cat is my object of faith. Some people say cats help them avoid loneliness, but cats can never erase that loneliness. People become unstable if they don’t have any faith. I guess anything could have done the job. However, considering my obsession for beautiful and noble things, a cat is what it took for me.”