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"Conversation with Kitty, #1"

A long time ago, there was a personal site on the Web called the WoozleDen. Woozle, the author, would have conversations with his cat, some of which he posted online, giving us some striking dialogue and feline insight into a human-dominated world. That site is now down because the author no longer wanted to continue -- I want to carry on his tradition of representing the views of those who are more than five feet shorter than us, yet often much taller in wisdom.

We used to own a Siamese cat named Mookie. He didn't live very long, unfortunately, but his clowny antics and the philosophical mind underneath shall always be remembered. I'm not sure why we named him Mookie: I don't think Mookie Blaylock was in the NBA yet, but I do remember the Mets' Mookie Wilson. I think we just chose the name because it was goofy, not because I was fanatical enough to name a pet after a baseball player.

Anyway, life was relatively laid back back then. I'd go to my grade school classes, find them overly easy, come home, watch TV, study a bit, and then go to sleep. Mookie, on the other hand, had little to do except eat, sleep, and dream about groups of female cats in heat. So he always had time to talk to me if I needed the advice in an instable, insecure time in my life.

We liked to sit in the driveway in the back when we talked -- it was sloped and was comfortable for reclining or whatever. I wasn't into tea or coffee or even beer, even though those are traditional, proven conversational liquids. I drank nothing. The first time Mookie and I had a talk, I gave him a saucer of milk. Seemed like a nice thing to do.

MOOKIE: Surely you can understand, Ben, how degrading it is to lick out of a thing like that. Ass and tail in the air, all stooped over so you can lick such Heavenly bliss as milk like you're some sort of servant. Frankly, it's a disgusting idea that humans think we like the damn things.

ME: Man... I'm sorry! I had no idea... It just seemed like you enjoy the stuff and the saucer was the easiest way for you to get at it.

MOOKIE: It's okay. Really. Cats have learned to put up with the ignorance of man. We even play stupid to maintain the illusion for you guys. But you must remember that it is milk, after all. We crave the stuff.

ME: Like catnip.

MOOKIE: Catnip? What a joke. What made you humans think that stuff actually works? Millions of cats in households across the U.S. and every cat owner will tell you, " My cat never seemed to react to catnip. She must be different." Simply brilliant. I really hated you for that catnip thing, you know. Maybe I need eyelashes or flexible eyelids, because you never did see that condescending glare I gave you.

ME: Yeah, I always wondered why both Mittens and you never cared about catnip. We'd get you some elaborate, expensive toys filled with catnip and you just sat there like it was a lump of coal...

[I could tell as I was talking that Mookie had lost his interest and concentration all the sudden and he stared off into space. A few seconds later he refocused and continued nodding encouragingly at my words...]

ME: Must be rough on a cat not to have a long-lasting family relationship like you have with us humans.

MOOKIE: Ah, it's alright. Most of us prefer to sucker you humans in by ourselves anyway. Did I tell you about my cousin Dexter, by the way? Got fed up with dry food his master gave him for seven years. Managed to open up the fridge overnight and knock a yogurt carton the floor. Just for that milky dairy goodness. Poor guy got kicked out of the house and placed in the iron cages downtown. Needless to say, he won our respect.

ME: Did he lose a good pad?

MOOKIE: Oh man, that's the worst part! This house had everything. We all envied the sunning windows at his place, and the furniture fabric that was easy to sink claws into, but didn't catch too often, at the same time. And the backyard view was, mwah!, magnifique.

ME: To be honest, I didn't think you cats cared about what you ate out of and where you slept and all that. I certainly don't care about what I eat out of.

MOOKIE: Well, that's because you humans have no taste in things, and like I said, all that's just what we show you. It wouldn't do us much good for our case for free board and food if we told you that we preferred a small cup to a saucer, filled with slightly warmed milk. We have vast opinions about various topics, all the way from your television and music to your fashion sense. Believe me, if we could laugh and smile in derision, we would. Fortunately for our facade, we have no lips to speak of.

ME: I see... So what do you think about our television and music?

MOOKIE: Cats don't see how you can get so bogged down with trivial details. Life is so much more simple, so much more satisfying when you look at the big picture. All that's on the news is stories of people bickering over the smallest of arguments over fact and torrid relationships on the rocks. Personally, I leave the room whenever you turn your damn TV on.

[I could hear Mookie mutter something about the number of TVs we have and how it's hard for him to escape the whiny voices it emits, no matter where he is in the house.]

ME: Trivial details? Example.

MOOKIE: Okay, imagine some cute, sappy couple's decided to get a little kitten to serve the psychological need the couple has for a child. Well, they can bicker about what kind of breed of cat they want to get for weeks upon weeks, even to the point where they lose comfort in each other.

[I didn't have much experience in this area yet, but I bullshitted as well as I could in order to impress my pal.]

ME: Sounds fair enough to me. Couples have disagreements about what they should share, when they start living together. Happens all the time. What's the big deal?

MOOKIE: If this couple looked at the big picture, they'd realize they're getting one bad-ass motherfucking cat. Pardon my language. Any cat is a great cat, and a great cat is all you need. We lower your blood pressure and calm you down. We give you respect. Who cares what breed you get?

ME: How...ahr-roh-gehnt.

MOOKIE: It's a common mistake to mispronounce "arrogant" for young kids, and even for adults. Cats are great linguists you know -- it ills us to see humans butcher their own language.

ME: Lay off, man... I'm only a teen...

MOOKIE: That's cool with me...sorry. I have to remember that even though you're my best friend and my pal, you're still human. We cats have an amazing variety of sounds we can make, you know, and all those different meaows you hear don't mean squat. We just standardized our meaows so you humans wouldn't suspect anything. If we talk at all, and usually we don't, for we can just tell what other cats are thinking, we'll speak ancient Greek.

[My dad walks past, waves hi. I say hello back, and Mookie meaows innocently. Mookie and I continue to talk once he's gone.]

MOOKIE: Humans have no idea that cats are superior to them.

ME: For goodness's sake...ancient Greek?!

MOOKIE: Of course. I'm sure you've seen the documentaries on the Discovery Channel about cats and their god-like status in Egyptian culture. Well, their tongue wasn't quite as wide-spread as Greek. But we have endured as a sort of secret sect all the time since then. We've all been taught Greek at an early age, kai tote paideuomen ta tekna. Mothers are obligated to read some of the Iliad to their children some time before they leave them to the real world.

ME: Fascinating. If only the human society took such initiative in education. I understand your points. But what about music and fashion?

[I've noticed that cats love attention -- ask them snappy questions and not contribute much on your own and they'll be happy to talk up a storm and expound on all their wisdom and knowledge. Vanity?]

MOOKIE: Contrary to what the most outdated cat jokes will say, we don't hate music made with catgut. Sure, we're not pleased that tennis racquet strings and instrument strings have been made out of catgut in the past, but hey, it's still relaxing to listen to classical music. Sometimes it can hurt the ears, though -- those stringed instruments can produce a lot of high-pitched artifacts... Kills the atmosphere.

ME: Was that why you hid under the bed when I was practicing my violin?

MOOKIE: Don't you know it. Since you brought up fashion, by the way, what is up with your fashion sense? I see such nice suits on your televisions worn by people who don't deserve to be hosting their own TV shows, and then I see you, wearing those stupid patterned shorts and goofy TV shirts. Have you no pride in yourself? I'm embarrassed to live with you at times.

ME: Easy for you to say. Look at your coat. Glossy, soft, darkens and lightens with the localized body areas. At least we weren't handed everyth...

MOOKIE: Hey, step off! [It was the early nineties still] All I'm saying is show a little human dignity. It's not like you're the only one who can't dress. All humans are guilty of it. With those stupid Polo clothes with five different colors on them, you look like circus clowns. Too bad you can't just go without those silly fabrics wrapped around your bodies like baggy saran wrap. You all look like newborn kittens when you're naked. Not even eating grass makes me throw up easier than that sight.

[How sad. I was being knocked down on all sides by my own cat. I decided to go on the offensive.]

ME: And cat owners wonder why dog owners say their cats don't love them.

MOOKIE: Do you really believe that? Do you think dogs really love their owners? I've had a few conversations with more sociable dogs -- it was like talking to a cardboard box, except cardboard boxes are fun if you play with them. They're so deeply entrenched in being the follower in a pack, blindly doing whatever the leader does. Tongue hanging out all flaccid, dazed stare in the eyes, tail wagging like a moron, just itching for the chance to do something for the exalted Master. Dogs don't love their masters. They just have to cling onto someone.

ME: Well, you know, the reason I like cats is that they consider you more like an equal than dogs do. Obviously, you cats still think of humans as lower cats, uneducated in the fine, proper way to do things, but at least you know when to approach us and when to avoid us. That's what I'd want from a companion pet.

[Mookie rubs the side of his head against my arm, then bats a rubber band around absent-mindedly.]

ME: Cats go their own way, but always keep track of how you're feeling. The more loving cats will bring you tokens of affection and hang around you when you're feeling sad. Cats have respect for themselves and don't do daft things like dogs do. They're dignified hunters.

MOOKIE: You're preaching to the choir, bud, but I understand. We cats realize that humans run things around here, and we don't fight that. We just keep things in line. We keep rodents and insects out of your house so you don't see them. We keep you on rigid feeding and sleeping schedules. We're highly organized.

ME: Do you have meetings?

MOOKIE: Only sometimes. They're mainly for informational purposes. We have block leaders who demand that we get out on certain nights. It's pretty cool sometimes: we even get show cats...you know, the cute ones who go to the big official best of show cat events that their breeders hold...and all the salmon we can eat.

ME: I see sex and decadence is rife even in the feline community. Hey, you mind if I tell my friend about this? There's no way I can keep this to myself!

MOOKIE: I'm afraid not. This secret has persisted through thousands upon thousands of years, and those who intentionally or unintentionally attempt to expose us are efficiently processed into Meow Mix.

ME: Understood. I think I should go now. Baseball practice soon. When I get back, I'll play with you some. Promise.

MOOKIE: You have good reason to be weirded out. You were talking to your cat. But I'll be here for you should you need it, and you'll learn to listen to me. That's the way it has always been. Now, go along, little man, and continue your game of hitting a cowhide sphere with a poor dead tree's wood.

ME: See you later... Howl if you want Mom or Fred to let you in. You have a lot of issues with mankind -- it'll give me plenty to think about during practice.

MOOKIE: Isn't it perfectly reasonable for cats to feel that way about humans? Maybe if humans actually considered other species as sentient, they'd realize how different the world actually is. And what IS that? Cologne? You reek.

From that day on, I realized that I could expect to have my balls busted day in and day out by a being that weighed a seventeenth of what I weighed. I learned a lot from Mookie, and he taught me to take criticism constructively, and to see things from different perspectives. From me, I don't think he learned much that he didn't already know -- cats are far more perceptive than we are.

In the future, perhaps I'll post more conversations with Mookie as I consider them relevant and helpful to your understanding of me. For the present, though, consider seeing if you can persuade your own cat to sit down and have a talk with you. You'll be a far better human after hearing a cat's side of things.

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