Episode 14: In Which a Cat’s Horizons Are Expanded

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

Fri 02, Mar, 2018
Episode 10: In Which an Old Ca

By now, they think they have me all figured out. They call me Cheesy, The Big Cheese, Easy Cheesy Bobeezy, and sometimes Sassy Biscuit. Not inaccurate monikers, I suppose. And it’s true, I come to them when they call “Cheeeeese!” from anywhere in the building. But it’s not to satisfy them; it’s because they have treats, of course.

I am surprised at myself to find that I have enjoyed falling into somewhat of a routine around here. My mornings are typically spent in tranquility, waiting for the sun to rise and the first of them to arrive. They always feed me right away; very considerate. After breakfast, I like to check out the front area to see who will be around for the day; some of them bring dogs from home to sleep under the desk, and on those days, I like to nap elsewhere. With a successful recon of the big desk, I return to the treatment area to check out the day’s schedule. More kennel cards mean a busy day; this is always promising for entertainment. A lot of animals have been coming in late to have their teeth cleaned; I sympathize with them and tell them that it’s a really bad day but that they will feel great afterward. Most of them don’t believe me, especially the dogs. They tend to be irrational when they get anxious. My people doubt me because we are all so characteristically wise; I understand, and I know that like me, they can only learn by experience.

All of this investigating makes for a pretty full morning, and I like to squeeze in a nap in Dr. B’s chair before lunch. In the afternoon, I return to my window bed to observe the goings on in the backyard. By then, the sun has had plenty of time to chase away any lingering cold from the corners so that I can enjoy the view in comfort. When the glass develops a gilded glare as the sun drops behind our next-door neighbors’ abode, I know it’s time to meander back out for some evening socializing. A couple of my friends are especially generous with treats.

They coax me onto the desk and get out the jar. It’s a funny thing, that jar; so simple and so small, and yet it holds a power over me like no other object in the seven tangible galaxies. (Trust me, there are seven; I’ve visited all of them.) When they shake it, my head fills with the rattle of small, dry bits of bliss colliding with each other and their prison walls. Set them free, let them find their place in my waiting mouth! Oh, the crunch of each delectable little cookie between my teeth that reverberates through my jaw bones and into my ear hairs. My mouth begins to water the moment I sense that jar nearby. They set it on the desk and ask if I want a treat. They tell me that I must ask for it if I want one. I pat the lid of the jar with my paw, and they squeal with delight and unlock the hasp that secures it shut. When it cracks open, the scent of bakery delights wafts into my nostrils. They set one in front of me and I crunch it down eagerly. Next, they take out another cookie and hold it between two fingers, palm open. They ask me to give them my paw. I pat the open palm with my paw and take the treat from the fingers. Again, they rejoice at my acquiescence and pull out another treat. This time, they hold it high above my head so that I have to stand all the way up on my hind legs, and I reach out both front paws and grab their hand and take the treat from their fingers. Elated, they give me one final treat and ask nothing of me before the jar disappears until the next time.

It’s an odd little ritual that we practice, but I have no complaints about the reward, and they are ceaselessly pleased with my performance. Let it never be said that I’m not generous with my time. Speaking of which, I like to do rounds one last time as the day winds down and prepare for my evening escapades. I’ve already told you how busy my nights get; no time to dawdle.

 

 

Dr. CJC

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