Thursday, September 8, 2016
The Kitten Psychologist
There once was a little kitten who had decided that the outside was bad. One hundred percent, unequivocally, without question or shadow of a doubt dangerous.
"I mean, why else," said the kitten, purring and cleaning its paws, "Would we live in houses?"
But, alas, one day, the kitten's humans took it outside. Carried it right out the door.
"It was terrible," the kitten told me over Skype after the event. "One hundred percent, unequivocally, without question or shadow of a doubt, terrible. There was snow. It was cold and wet and it stuck in my fur. My humans laughed at me when they put me down and I refused to move."
Of course, I thought that this kitten was being unreasonable.
"Your ancestors lived outside. I'm sure they loved the snow. You should try it again."
"Your ancestors grew crops along the Volga River," the kitten pointed out. "Are you planning on trying that anytime soon?"
Darn kitten had a point.
I tried a different tack.
"There's all kinds of things you can do outside that you can't do inside."
"Oh, sure, catch diseases, fall on ice, get attacked by wild animals or drunk drivers, and then die. Although I suppose you could still die inside." It flicked its tail thoughtfully.
"Dying without having ever left your house. That's depressing."
"Fruit flies do it all the time." The kitten's eyes widened. "That is depressing."
"Then I'll just live a long and healthy life inside and, when I'm dying, I'll have my humans take me outside where I can be with nature and junk. There. Problem solved."
The kitten just glared at me before being scooted off the desk by its human, who had returned to continue our conversation.
I was then able to follow the cat's activities using my arcane writerly powers. Over the next few days, it would approach the doors and look out windows whenever it thought its humans weren't looking. But they were. They told me about their kitten's change in behaviour, wondering aloud whether they should let it outside again. It was at this point they also showed me the Youtube video of their kitten standing indignantly in the snow. I have to admit, it was pretty funny.
Not long after, the kitten called me up on Skype.
"You know, I've been thinking," it said.
"Really? And how did that make you feel?" I adjusted my imaginary spectacles and picked up my imaginary clipboard.
"Shut up. I'm trying to talk." The kitten stuck out its wee pink tongue and I couldn't help but laugh, at which point the kitten glared.
"I will. As I was saying, I've been thinking. About the outside. You know, I'm only a few weeks old. I've got a lot of life left in me. I really could just go out there and try out this whole snow thing again, or I could stay inside for a while. There's lots of time. But then I thought, do I really have as much time as I think? I could die at any moment. The fridge could fall over when I'm trying to open it and squash me, or I could get my tail stuck in an electrical outlet. Someone could be too curious in my vicinity. You know."
"And what if I don't die like that? What if I spend my whole life just staring at the outside instead of prancing out there and just owning it like cats should? What if all I do, for the rest of my life, is wait? I mean, it's not like there's anything stopping me from going outside. There's just… me."
"Sounds like you've made some important progress."
"But what if my humans laugh and take videos of me again?"
I took this moment not to mention that I'd both seen and laughed at the video. Instead, I gave my most thoughtful face.
"So, what you're trying to say is, you would rather go outside without them?"
The kitten stretched before answering. "I'll admit, they're much better as servants than they are as escorts. But they do happen to be able to reach doorknobs. Don't they make doors in more cat-friendly sizes?"
"Yes," I said. They're called doggy doors, I thought, but didn't say.
"Excellent." The kitten purred. "I want one. Just for the back yard. I needn't parade myself before the general public just yet."
"I'll mention it to your humans--" I suppressed a snigger at the phrase-- "I'm sure they'll listen to me."
"Of course they'll listen to you. What else have I been paying you for?" With that, the kitten hung up.
I've really got to tell my friends where their money's been going.
Meh. I can wait until they get their next bank statement.
(Read part two, The Kitten Psychologist Broaches the Topic of Economics, here.)