Gentle felines, I have a problem on my paws. My human cusses like an alley cat.
Yes. It looks pretty bad. It does indeed. But let me set the scene for you, and then we'll talk solutions.
I make it a point to talk to my human. I do so as slowly and distinctly as possible: feeed meeeee. Brussssshhhh meeeeee. Purrrrrrr. Sometimes I have to get a bit sharp when I'm speaking to her, in order to get her attention, but I find that a stern MEOW! usually does the trick and that the firm paw of guidance can be mostly restrained. The other day, however, she surprised me. I followed her into the kitchen to see why she was taking so long about my dinner, and when she failed to immediately acknowledge me, I stood on my hind legs, poked her with my paw and said MRRROW! as loudly and clearly as possible. And then what did she do? She looked down at me...and tried to answer me. In Cat. Not Human. Cat.
I was startled, but I was willing to work with this. This is going to sound foolish, but I had a sudden thought that perhaps, just perhaps, if the poor dope could be taught to speak properly, her training would go much more smoothly. I mean, kittens are born almost entirely able to articulate their needs; my human is significantly slower-witted than a kitten; but nevertheless, blooming late is better than not at all. Maybe, I thought, if I could get her to speak properly then we could sit down and I could reason with her; if I could do that, then I could sort out the rest of her training and turn her into a human who would be a credit to me.
So I listened, carefully. I meowed again, distinctly, encouragingly, and when she answered me, I paid close attention. At first, I found her heavy human accent to be charming, albeit incomprehensible. However, the more we meowed back and forth, the clearer it became, and...gentle felines, she cusses like a pirate with a wooden leg full of termites.
I was horrified. I have no idea where she picked up such language. I know, she does leave the house. And Bast only knows what sort of unsavory cats she might encounter in the course of an average day. I've smelled a few on her shoes when she gets home. She has this human friend who lives with four cats, by my count, which strikes me as very strange. I mean, four cats? In one house? Either that house has a lot of human issues that require a full-time guidance contingent, or the hierarchy structure and discipline there are very lax, indeed. Who is in charge there, is what I want to know. I am a solitary researcher, thank you very much, and I cannot imagine a situation where I would want three assistant felines, unless I had a very unruly human staff comprised of 50 spectacularly stupid people. But I can't tell just by smelling them if these cats have been teaching my human poor manners or not.
The conversation went from bad to worse:
ME: (stunned silence)
I had to forcibly pull my paw back from the soap dish.
Now, she's way too big to swat. That does no good at all. I've tried. If I ignore her, it doesn't seem to register. This is despite the fact that, as we all know, when training a human, negative consequences get results. It is difficult, however, to know which negative consequences will be most effective. I mean, I can't ground her. She just leaves anyway. I can't withhold her favorite treats. She has thumbs, the ape. If I punish her she may attempt to rebel, and I'll wake up to a bowl of low fat kibble. If I ignore her completely, she'll just keep hanging out at the docks or the wharves or wherever it is that she's learning this bad behavior, and then I'll have to go to the docks myself. In disguise. To take ship for some far place where no cat will ever know that I was responsible for her poor education.
I think the thing to do in this case, however, is take a deep breath and just get back to work. I started this morning. I figured I would get to her while she was waking up, so that a.) she could get my breakfast, and b.) the first words of cat she would hear would be graceful, positive ones. So as usual, I climbed up on her pillow shortly before daybreak, and began poking her in the face as I always do, purring away. She did eventually open her eyes, and scratched my ears. Very nice. I purred encouragingly at her, and she smiled, scratched my back, and said: