Episode 15: In Which a Cat Looks Inside Himself
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.