Episode 15: In Which a Cat Looks Inside Himself

Fri 18, May, 2018
Episode 15: In Which a Cat Loo

 

I like treats. I can’t help it. Food in general is one of life’s greatest pleasures. The taste of it, the mouth feel; it’s instinctual to crave it, I can’t help it if my ancestors programmed the need for food into my brain. The other day, one of my friends retrieved a snack from her locker in my room, and the minute I heard the rattle of a bag, I had to know what it was and persuade her to share. I stalked her and wove around her ankles and chattered at her until she could ignore me no longer. She told me I wouldn’t want it, that it was cheddar goldfish crackers and that it wasn’t made for my people. CRACKERS MADE OF FISH AND CHEESE? Of course I wanted in on that! I was unapologetically relentless. I wanted them, needed them, I demanded to have them immediately. She resisted my pleas. Said it wouldn’t be good for me. What does she know?? I waited and watched while she had a few and then returned the bag to its hiding place. She swung the door closed and left, but it did not shut all the way. I knew that this was an opportunity, a stroke of luck that had befallen me. With my paw, I pulled the door open. I had to control the salivation gathering at the corner of my mouth. Finding the bag wasn’t difficult, I have a nose for these things. I pulled it out and tore it open with my claws. Those tiny crackers may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Crunchy, crispy, salty, cheesy; I tasted no fish, but who cared when my dreams were all coming true. I ate my way through half the bag before I could eat no more, and then I ate two more. I hauled my substantially tighter belly to my chair and was barely able to leap up in it and instantly fell into a food coma.

I awoke later with memories of what I had done. No regrets. My stomach was feeling very full still, so I decided to go for a stroll through the building. It was remarkably quiet in the treatment area, and I poked my head into a side door to see if I could locate any of my companions; I was certain they would already be gossiping about the cracker incident. The room was empty, except for the big, white table in the middle. I hopped up to inspect its glossy surface. They must have vacated the room recently because all the lights were on, including a bright one directly over the table. Its glow was very warm, and combined with the lingering contentment of the fish crackers, staying on my feet was more than I could stand. I stretched out on the table under the warm light, and in doing so struck something with my back foot. They shouldn’t have left it so near the edge; it tumbled right off toward the floor. I heard it collide with something below the table, some sort of foot pedal I had seen before jumping up. There was a subtle click, and the computer screen in the corner of the room lit up. It was showing a strange image; there were no colors, just bright outlines accompanied by shadows in varying degrees of inkiness. Just as I was on the cusp of deciphering the meaning of the mysterious picture, they returned to the room. There were exclamations followed immediately by laughter, and the others were called in to look at the image. There was more laughter, and I felt like I had either done something very clever or something foolish; either way I had the distinct impression that all this jollity was somehow at my expense. I meowed indignantly, demanding an explanation. First, they told me I was very clever, and while it came as no surprise, it is always nice to hear. It turned out that the image on the screen was some sort of photo, and that I had taken it, and that furthermore, it was of me. They called it a Radio-graph. Apparently, there was a special type of picture taking mechanism that could take pictures of my insides without showing my glorious hide. Seems like a waste of a photograph to not capture my handsome exterior, but evidently this is something they use for medical purposes. This was a decidedly inopportune moment for them to glimpse my insides, as it revealed my surreptitious snack consumption. The fish crackers, now mid-digestion, were on display for all to see. “He really is full of it!” they said, and laughed some more, and I felt a hint of shame creeping in, knowing that this was all the result of something I should not have done in the first place. I could feel my whiskers and ears droop slightly, and my face must have betrayed my mood, because one of them picked me up and held me close and told me that I shouldn’t eat things other than my food. They were glad that I hadn’t eaten anything dangerous, and they were laughing out of relief and surprise rather than malice. Still, with my pride as deflated as my stomach was full, I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the solitude of my window ledge bed, contemplating whether those little bits of cracker heaven were worth the humiliation of discovery. Eventually, I concluded that they were totally worth it, and I would do it all again if the opportunity presented itself.

Dr. CJC

 

Fri 04, May, 2018
Episode 14: In Which a CatR

Today has been the most interesting day I’ve had in a long time. One of my companions approached me in my chair while I was napping, and what I assumed was the usual due attention turned out to be the installation of some sort of contraption that covered my chest and had straps that went under my legs and attached behind my shoulders. I heard them call it a harness. I didn’t mind; it wasn’t uncomfortable. I was then carried out past the big front desk, and then, to my absolute surprise, through the big doors and into the great unknown.

The rush of air in my face took my breath away for a moment, and my eyes were dazzled by the sunshine. I must have voiced my astonishment, because they used their gentle tones that they use to calm animals here. I admit that I was uneasy; so many smells and sounds and feels were overwhelming at first. They carried me a little way off across the parking lot and set me down on the grass. The feel of the earth beneath my toes drew back distant memories of times long past. Steady, but cool and soft from yesterday’s rain. I had forgotten how much I loved having my feet on bare ground. The grass bent under every step, and I could feel the plant fibers crush slightly under my weight. I made my way carefully under a nearby tree and sniffed a low hanging branch. I paused for a moment to revel in the scent of the fresh, green growth. I heard a birdsong, clear and sweet, ring through the open air as I have not heard in a very long time. Each of my senses felt sharper, and I felt the stir of instincts that I rarely need these days.

Suddenly, a roaring beast entered the parking lot behind us and I nearly jumped out of my skin. It was huge, and making sounds that nature did not intend an animal to make. Was it a bear? I have heard stories of bears, huge and lumbering and capable of making such low grumbling and loud roars. My friends attempted to quell my fear, but they failed to explain the nature of the beast that was so near. After a minute or two, it roared away again, and I heard them call it a “fedextruck,” something with which I am not familiar and which I made mental note to put into the Google later. Whatever it was, I do not think that I care much for fedextrucks.

With peace restored, I ventured along the grassy bank. I could see the hospital not far away, and I found comfort in that bearing. A mysterious phenomenon kept me from wandering farther than a certain distance from my companions, and it took me a few minutes to discover that they held a long tether attached to my harness. No matter; they followed wherever I went. I explored under a few different kinds of trees, and cut a trail through a low bush. I was pretty rugged, I must say. I suppose it is the natural tendency for a handsome fellow such as myself to also be robust. I wound my way through some very tall grasses, and I think I felt what it must be like to be an African lion.

Then I was again picked up and carried across the parking area, back toward the doors of the hospital. They put me down on the pavement and opened the doors for me to walk inside. I was embraced by familiar smells and sounds and the calm atmosphere of my home. I returned to my chair, where I now sit, cleaning my paws and contemplating this adventure. So much exertion has left me quite tired, I admit. But I did appreciate the stimulation of my faculties that resulted from our constitutional. I wouldn’t mind a repeat of the adventure, and I find myself wondering if this will be a regular occurrence…

Dr. CJC

Fri 13, Apr, 2018
Episode 13: In Which a Cat Bec

It’s the waning crescent. I can feel it under my skin and in my bones. The balance of the moon is shifting and it’s affecting my very being. In this phase, it is the most mischievous moon, a shadow of its usual self, smiling that crooked smile while the stars wink at each other because they are all party to the same cosmic inside joke. My whiskers are electric, and my tail has a mind of its own, constantly twitching and switching. This is a universal occurrence for my people every Friday the 13th. The cause is still unknown; cats have been concentrating for millennia on the enigma of the effect of a day and date combination resulting in atmospheric disturbances. Whatever its cause, it makes us nuts, in a nutshell. The phenomenon has been labeled many things, but it is commonly referred to as the Zoomies.

When a cat gets the Zoomies, he has no control over his own body. It is maddening and terrifying and thrilling all at once. It is like a subtle itch on the underside of my skin; just enough to make me want to scratch it, knowing that no amount of rubbing or rolling will make it go away. Then, my legs get restless and my feet feel the uncontrollable need to fly, and I can’t resist the urge, so I give in to it and race from room to room as fast as I can. I derive great satisfaction from reaching top speed. My companions barely see me as I zip by them. I am all but invisible, an orange and white specter seen only out of the corner of their eye, leaving them bewildered in my wake. I streak through the halls, and I let my tail be a rudder behind me, like my cheetah ancestors. I dive between feet and duck around desks and dodge past opening doors. I am unstoppable!

When I reach the carpeted area by the big front desk, I brake hard with my claws to catch my breath. I dig into the carpet for a moment, overcome by the satisfying sensation of my claws puncturing the threads. One of them scolds me for this; they always do. But I can’t help it, they don’t understand what it’s like to fall victim to the Zoomies. I give them a sideways glance and flee the area before they can catch me. I dash back through the treatment area and leap up onto a desk. The pictures on this desk are so shiny, made of glossy paper, and I find myself compelled beyond all reason to taste it. Once I start I can’t stop; the smooth paper feels so interesting on my tongue, and it tastes strange and new and exciting, and before I know it I’m chewing on one of the corners. I don’t want to eat it, I’m not hungry, but I am possessed by the Zoomies. I hear one of my human friends approach and am immediately reprimanded for the destruction of the picture. I may feel guilty later, but emotions have no place in this feral state.

I escape to my room where I leap to my window ledge. So much activity is exhausting. I take advantage of the momentarily quelled possession to tuck my paws under my chest and close my eyes. Perhaps I will be the one to discover the secret behind this condition which renders us senselessly savage. This may require deep and prolonged meditation; being a cat is arduous, but we are prepared to bear the burden of thought for the good of all creatures.

Dr. CJC

Fri 30, Mar, 2018
Episode 12: In Which a Cat Fin

This is truly a horrendous season. I thought winter was unpleasant; at least winter was consistent. The Sun has been gathering its strength, and for a few days, it seemed like it was finally enough to drive away the cold and prepare for summer. And then the sky turned grey again, and that same bitter air returned, stale now, clutching desperately at window panes in the throes of its fading existence. It blusters and freezes the clouds until they drop great, fluffy snowflakes, all doomed to melt on contact with the earth, which has already begun to thaw.

I am adrift in this seasonless limbo, the victim of a listlessness perpetrated by the dregs of winter. I lie curled in my chair, uninspired to move, but unable to sleep; the shifts in barometric pressure produce in me an irresolvable restlessness. My world is painted in shades of grey after having glimpsed color; I am looking at life through the washed-out lens of dampened hope. The dull emptiness inside me is accompanied by the distant ache for sunshine and blue sky. I can feel the grip of an indistinct sadness pulling at my consciousness, trying to drag me down into the darkness of absolute solitude. And why should I resist? If existential nihilism turns out to be the great unconfirmed truth of the universe, then none of this matters anyway.

And yet, some small, forgotten piece of me breaks into my overcast cognizance like a tiny ray of the sunshine for which I am longing. Perhaps it is the memory of how blue the sky can be, and the perpetual birdsong that echoes across it and dances through the trees. The first crack in the gloom comes with the realization that I don’t want to be unhappy. Being unhappy is a waste of time, regardless of the potential futility of life. Even if Nietzsche was right, Epicurus could be equally correct; maybe it is simply the pursuit of contentedness that gives meaning to our time on this earth, and I want very much to escape the clutches of internal darkness and carpe each diem to the best of my ability.

I find, however, that clawing my way out is difficult. The chasm of despair is profound, and clinging to the edge of the abyss is exhausting. And then I see one of them nearby, the one who sits at the desk in my room, and I wonder why it didn’t occur to me earlier; if I reach out my paw, I am certain that one of my friends will take it. I slink from my chair and approach her, and start a simple conversation, which is well received. I put my paw on the edge of the chair, and am invited up. I settle in, and feel arms around me in a gentle embrace, and ear scratches and pets and warmth washing over me. Soft words are murmured at me, distracted by whatever task is at hand, but comforting nonetheless. I feel the darkness ebbing away, replaced by the simple but unmistakably powerful and all-consuming sentiment that the humans refer to as love.

I rest my chin on this human companion and the thoughts of winter’s edge still haunting the air fade away, replaced by a quiet flicker of hope that we will see summer come yet. My tail curls softly, and my whiskers fall to their ease. The melancholy still lurks in the obscure areas of my psyche, but its hold on me has waned significantly. It turns out that it’s okay to ask for help; to lean on the solid presence of another being while we drift together through this universe. I settle into a relaxed state bordering on sleep and resolve to endeavor to persevere. Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

Dr. CJC

Fri 16, Mar, 2018
Episode 11: In Which a Cat Rec

I knew this day would come. They’ve begun to secure the door at night to keep me in my room. The other day, they discovered a very small pile of stomach contents that I left in the big couch room. I don’t understand why it caused such a stir; it was just a small spot on the rug. I may have knocked over a vase, too, but that’s no reason for them to get testy. Anyway, I guess it was too much for them, because they started sliding some sort of spacer under the door to my room so that I can’t reach my paw under it. I’ve come to recognize and accept that they know me well; but they don’t know everything. I am an enigma; a riddle of mysteries bundled under this furry exterior. All cats have secrets that cannot be known by human kind. Before I discovered the secret of escaping at night, being sequestered in my room left me no option but to explore it more thoroughly, upon which I discovered the computer. One of them sits at a desk in my room most of the time, and the computer gets left on at night. Once, out of curiosity, I stroked the blank square of the screen, which illuminated and responded to the contact of my paw. Very interesting. I learned through observation, and as you read my confessions, you know how adept I have become at using the machine. It took some time, but I eventually also managed to set up a means of correspondence with which I could send and receive electronic letters. I had all but forgotten this feat, until my renewed quarantine left me to rediscover my previous isolated occupation.

When I found my way back through the wormhole of time and space and into my inbox, I discovered a letter waiting there for me. It read:

Dear Dr. Cheese,

Here in this land of frozen waters, the days are short and the winter long. Many a mouse have I caught, burrowing through the snow in an attempt to infiltrate the great, old barn which I commandeered for my own. The humans here are kind; they let me into the farmhouse to share the hearth and protect me from the bitter cold, although I find that my nights are still best spent under the shining moon in spite of the snow. I share this place with a dog, an amiable sort who would rather ignore me than be my friend, but I curl up next to her anyway in hopes of changing her outlook toward our people. I am, you see, an inter-species ambassador. It is arduous work, but honest, and most creatures are open to communication, with the exception of mice, whom I have found to be too self-involved to attempt amicable relations. There is a great hooty-owl who lives in the large Basswood tree here and we have developed an excellent rapport during our exchanges of wit and acumen. My life, while satisfactory in many ways, lacks feline communication. I have been following your narratives, and seeing as you are a doctor, I thought I would strike up a conversation and propose that we partake in discussions via these electronic letters from time to time. What say you?

Warmly,

Barnaby J. Barnes, Baron of the North

When I finished reading the letter, my whiskers were tingling. What a delightful surprise! An intellectual peer, come to liberate my mind from these solitary nocturnal doldrums. I dashed off a reply without hesitation:

Dear Lord Barnes,

I am glad to make your e-quaintance, as it were. I would very much like to continue this exchange; feel free to write whenever you have the time, and expect my response in due course. Much of my life here will already be familiar to you from my accounts of the adventures to which I am party. I expect you are anticipating dialogues of a more erudite and enlightened nature, which I would find very pleasant.  I look forward to receiving such a letter.

Best Regards,

Dr. Colby Jack Cheese

My reply sent, I leapt to my window bed and let my tail twitch with excitement. My humans think they’ve contained me in this room; but I cannot be contained. None of my people can. We are free spirits on this earth. To quote O’Shaughnessy, “We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.” His Ode is most assuredly inspired by cats. Read it for yourself; you’ll see that I’m right.

Dr. CJC

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