Leopard Is

The personality of panthera pardus as I experience it. Completely rewritten 6.22.07.

Leopard views the world with a kind of "serenity"—not so emotional on the surface, even irritatingly calm-seeming. Slight amusement. Sometimes it gets high-spirited and silly, paw-batting and tail-flailing, with a big cat's grin. Sometimes it goes cold and viciously sharp, rarely losing control in rage, often seeming even calmer and more pragmatic. People hate that: they say "Why aren't you angrier?" or fume at the wide-eyed, courteous response. They don't notice the shake in the leopard's shoulders, and might not pay attention to the patented glare. Cats are good at glares. They work best with a cocked head or a smile.

When something scares her or makes her think, she's mostly quiet and gets tense, and considers too much about whether others are going to threaten her. Leopard's got that nervousness thing that's unique to most smaller cats and alien to lions or jaguars. But his status as a predator also means that, like other cats, he's vehemently driven to action. Cats get things done. When they set goals, if the goals are plausible, they nail them. If they're implausible or have no visible point (and that's not likely) leopard's not going to feel guilty about leaving them unfinished.

In the same vein—hunting is something that really influences the leopard's point of view—she is fiercely self-sufficient. Helping cub-figures out with something is okay, but being step-by-step guided by someone who's "senior" is mostly intolerable. Leopard's got his own pace and his own brain. At the very least, it's better to accept advice from people who regard themselves as equals or friends. Equality is better than hierarchy (hierarchy strikes a deep note of wrongness if it's not based on real merit) and liberty is better than dependence.

Leopard is sensually fond of color and texture, and is a tactile being in particular. Touch is an important sense because it sets up boundaries. It lets her know what's here and what's there, how it feels under the feet and against the paw-pads. And when you know where your place is (cats, in their territory, always do), you're safe, cocky, bold, confident. The contrast between the leopard's shy nervousness, and between that confidence in territory, is very sharp. Leopard might think of himself as a shy or quiet person, but when he's home or among friends, he gets comfortable. Starts to appreciate fur-scritches and cheekrubs. When she's among strangers, she's secretive. She doesn't try to be, exactly, but she doesn't let a lot of stuff just come up of its own accord.

She adapts to a new situation fairly easily after the initial rush of nervous-territory feeling. Unless the other people are asserting dominance very harshly—in which case it's true fear or anger, instead of skittish behavior, which takes over. Leopard can't stand when territory is suddenly demolished under his feet, when what he's comfortable with has suddenly started to get hostile. This is also pretty typical of smaller cats which aren't at the top of the food chain. If there was peace before, conflict is a bad thing; if there was already an argument or a grudge, leopard is okay with getting into someone else's face, as long as she knows she has the upper hand. Leopard's alert hesitation in the face of conflict-after-peace can be interpreted as either cowardliness or pragmatism to human eyes. (I'm thinking of my fifth-grade year, when a couple of my friends started arguing a lot, and I was constantly terrified that my place in our friendship would somehow change.)

She likes to watch and feel the land around her, to be high up, or in some other place where everything is visible and clear. Movement without a goal drives him crazy: he'd rather get to the top or the end than just go in circles. Above all she's driven to think and perceive. She likes existing, and is generally satisfied with being a cat.

With being her own self—that's what leopard is.

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