I had the most remarkable conversation with my cat the other day.
If you don’t have a cat, I’m not sure I can really impress upon you how rare good talks are with these little varmints. Most cats are not good conversationalists. They’re good for a few witty remarks and maybe a joke or two, especially at random. Cats have great senses of humor. But they aren’t really ones for more intense and serious intellectual diatribes. That’s what I had.
So I’m in the kitchen, and in time I’m in the kitchen, there’s at least one cat in there with me. It’s just a given. Just by virtue of walking through the one room in the house with the food, just WHOMP, you get issued a cat. I wholly expect to one day have cats appear none of us adopted. Just open the fridge door, shut it, and there’s the Magical Mistoffelees or Garfield or something.
So I’m in the kitchen and my cat Jake is on the island behind me. Jake is a chubby black-and-white short hair who is terribly neurotic but very sweet. As I said above, he’s not much of a conversationalist but he’s good company. So I’m talking to him about what I normally talk to my cats about (Transformers) and he does a little cute roll on the counter. Jake doesn’t seem to realize that the counter has limited space and promptly goes tumbling over the side. I didn’t notice because I was getting eggs out of the fridge at the time, so all I heard was ‘thump’.
I spin around and Jake’s on his side. Now I freak out because I thought cats land on their feet. I’m afraid I’ve broken my cat, which you aren’t supposed to be able to do. Cats don’t break and if you break one, well, then you messed up real, real bad.
So I rush over to the little varmint and I scoop him up, exclaiming in a powerful and manly voice, “Dude, are you okay?” I put him on the counter and he shakes his head and licks his chops. He seemed fine but I was still a bit unsettled that this cat had just planted straight off the counter. “Dude, don’t do that,” I told the little critter. I check his eyes and I swear one’s bigger than the other. I’m starting to get a little worried.
I use the light on my phone to shine it right into my cat’s eyes. I’m worried, to say the least. I don’t know how likely it is, but I am well aware that a cat can get a concussion. The light doesn’t reveal much but it did seem to show that his eyes were in fact the same size.
“Buddy, don’t do that!” I repeated before tussling his head. He reached up with one paw and laid it across my hand. “Well, I don’t want you to get hurt,” I explained to him. “If you get hurt, I’m not sure I could get you better.”
And he cocked his head to the side, as though he was confused. “Well, buddy,” I told him, “medicine’s expensive and we don’t have vet insurance.”
By the way, is that a thing? Do they even offer veterinarian insurance?
–quick google search—
So apparently they do offer vet insurance but it looks sketchy as hell. Anyway, I digress again.
“We don’t have vet insurance,” I told my cat in the kitchen after he’d rolled off the counter, “And I can’t put you on my insurance.”
Again, he stared, right at me.
“I mean, I call you my child, my kid, but in the human world, that only applies to other humans, not animals.”
And he stared, still confused.
“I don’t get it either,” I told him. I started to go back to the fridge for more stuff, but I felt him still staring. I turned around and faced my cat. “I mean, I know its not fair that a family member, a dependent, a part of my household can’t be covered by a benefit of my job, but it’s not allowed.”
He blinked. That slow, methodical blink of a cat in disbelief.
“Well, I don’t know why,” I told him again. “I mean, it’s not like I could call my boss or my HR and demand it. I mean, I could but it wouldn’t do any good. That’s now how my job works.” I shrugged, feeling very ashamed. “That’s not how pretty much anything works.”
And he kept staring at me, wanting to know more.
“See, in the human world,” I explained to my cat, “you designate and delegate authority. This person is responsible for this and that person is responsible for that and you let them handle that. And if they don’t handle it like you like, they get corrected by a boss…who, I guess in theory, ultimately is elected?” I wasn’t sure. “So I could call my elected officials, but I’m pretty sure they don’t give a damn.”
And again, he stared.
“I know, it sucks,” I explained to my cat. “It sucks that elected officials don’t listen to their constituents more than is absolutely necessary, and instead they just do what corporate interests tell them. But there isn’t too much of an alternative.”
He flipped his tail and kept staring at me. Big eyes, locked right on me.
“No, it doesn’t make sense,” I told him. I didn’t tell him. I admitted to him.
And that’s what was so remarkable. I had to explain things to my cat. And in the process of doing so, I realized just how insanely nonfunctional the human world is.
Going forward, I feel like that’s a solid metric for things. If you explain something to your cat, and you realize that it’s incredibly dumb, then maybe it’s something that we – as a society – should not tolerate. I’ve never known a cat to be all that bad a judge of character, of anything really. Except maybe how much space they have to roll on a kitchen island.