Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why So Quiet?

Certain gentle felines have commented on my silence recently. In fact, since the Thanksgiving holiday, my lazy, good-for-nothing secretary has been singularly recalcitrant and it has been nearly impossible to get her to buckle down and do some work for me. Of course, I still receive service: my meals, served as and when I like them, my grooming services, the odd wad of paper that I can bat around while at the same time utterly ignoring the silly toys she actually purchases for me. But her devotion has nevertheless been incomplete without her services as a menial scribe. As it is, I have had to pin her down this morning to force her to write for me, which she has done, and with very bad grace, too, might I add. I have thought long and hard about the reasons for my difficulty in governing her in all things, and I believe I have identified the main cause: her priorities. They are all wrong.

Specifically, she suffers from this strange human preoccupation with what they call "work."

Now, I have my work as well. Training a human is not an easy task! Once you've interviewed a new human, which is a lengthy process, and once you have decided that this particular human will benefit more from your guidance and instruction than any other human, your toil has only just begun. There's the operant conditioning: give me stinky food! There's the positive reinforcement: pet me and I will purr at you briefly. And on and on. It's exhausting.

But humans have this ridiculousness that they call "jobs" and they go off and spend a lot of time doing whatever these things are, and then every so often, they come home with one piece of paper that is good for the exchange of some green (or other color) bits of paper, which makes them feel very calm and secure. What is odd is that, once in possession of these bits of paper, they almost immediately distribute them to all and sundry in exchange for other things, like keeping the lights on. This is patent foolery. The only time you need lights is at night, when humans should either be sleeping sensibly or prowling about their territory in the dark, scent marking it as necessary. The upshot is, that once they have distributed this paper all over Bast's green acre, they then have no more paper, so they leave AGAIN and go and get more of it in a couple of weeks.

And really, that's what it comes down to. The human pursuit of paper. I personally have have not determined any good use for the paper she brings home, and stuffs in her purse, and distributes to other humans in a seemingly random fashion. It's grimy, smells of other humans, and she keeps it so stingily buried in her bag or wallet or what-have-you that I can't even see if it's good for swatting around the room. I don't think it is, since the stuff is flat, but I should at the very least be allowed to try. What's hers is mine, anyway, and so therefore those bits of paper are mine, and so therefore she should hand them over so I can verify that they are useless. A equals B equals C, therefore A equals C: that paper is mine, and she needs to give it up if I want it.

But she won't let me have it. She calls it "money" and yammers on at length about how she needs it for such-and-so, hasn't got enough of it for whatsis, and needs to give it to whomever in exchange for something. It is evidently of great worth to her. It preoccupies her when she hasn't got any.

Clearly, this is an example of how a fractious human needs extra training, else their priorities (ME) become gravely skewed. I decided to try an experiment yesterday: she went off and did something which apparently will soon lead to the acquisition of more bits of paper (she called it "free-lance-ing," whatever that is. I'm pretty sure it's more tomfoolery), and when she got back, which was shockingly several hours later, she was tired and lay down on my bed for a bit. I decided to show her just how rewarding her life could be if she just got her priorities straight. Now, gentle felines, you may find the following disturbing, but do not be shocked. It's called positive conditioning, and the end result could be positive for me. I waited until she had switched on the electric heating thingie, and then I climbed up on the bed, huddled up next to her in my most winsome way, and purred. This encouraged her to scratch my ears and pet me, and she almost immediately calmed down and went to sleep.

I confess that I had a certain wild hope that this was a breakthrough in her training. It is a mistake, I suppose, to indulge in too much hope when working with your human kittens, but I sometimes fall into that trap anyway. My hopes were not to be rewarded, however. I am disgusted to report that after she had slept a bit, she got up, served me my dinner (tuna! It was pretty good!), and then lit out of the house again, presumably after more bits of paper. Revolting! Unconscionable! And food for thought.

Where did humans get this idea that bits of paper are so valuable? Why do they work and work and work and spend most of their time away from home and us to get more bits of paper? Why do they fret and lose their health and their hair and their happiness and sometimes their admittedly limited reason, just to get these bits of paper? I can't quite sort this out. I am fairly sure, however, that it's a question of training, and that we cats are just going to have to learn ways to do a better job of it.

It is incumbent upon good cats everywhere to show humans that they don't need all the things for which those bits of paper can be exchanged. I will grudgingly concede that they need a small number of bits of paper, because without proper guidance throughout human history this is apparently how humans have constructed their interactions with one another. They need a sufficient amount to house and feed their feline trainers, and themselves I suppose, but that's it. They don't need expensive treats. These make them fat and lazy and ruin their teeth. They don't need much recreation. I am a reasonable creature and mean to retain my reason, thank you, and spending a night on the razzle only has deleterious effects upon human reasoning, limited though it is, and causes their service to slack off. They certainly don't need to exchange their bits of paper for stupid luxuries. What they need is to work sufficient to keep themselves and their cats in simple comfort, and that is IT.

I have revised, therefore, a small portion of my training schedule into teaching my human how to be happy with what she has: how to feel fortunate that I am housed, how to be happy that I am fed, and how to be thankful that I swat her silly little dog on a regular basis and keep the nasty smelly thing at bay. Well, she can clothe herself, too. I prefer this. Have you seen them without clothes? Oh, it's horrible. Did you know the poor things are almost entirely bald? They are. Bast! I don't need to see that.

With any luck, I will hit upon an effective technique, and all of this working-working-working for bits of paper that she does currently will taper off into a reasonable balance. For the moment, however, I am quite angry with her. I will get back to her training once she has finished her secretarial duties for the day, but I am going to make sure she works extra hard. I have already begun sulking. I do it so well, and as a training technique it is surprisingly effective. Try it.


  1. We think work is a four-lettered word!! One of those bad ones!! 'Cept our mom says if she didn't go to work, she couldn't get the green papers to buy us the treats and toys that we have been accustomed to. Such a dilemma....

  2. Puss-Puss, as a feeble Human I *almost* think I understand your gist. However, I LIKE my luxuries! How can I break the habit? I mean, I'll practically break the law for chocolate, and coffee. In rotating order.

  3. See Puss-Puss, clearly we don't keep our apes busy enough appreciating us. We allow them space to create yet more nonsense known as money or work as if worrying about time didn't fill up their tiny brains to capacity. Ape priorities are very odd.

    W. Wuudler

  4. Puss-Puss, despite the idiotic nature of this peoples passtime, I have come to peace with it somewhat. It helps if you consider the work thing a hunt that they go on. They are the providers, as it should be, for we cannot be expected to hunt and train at the same time. This means they have to leave the den from time to time to provide for us. Granted, they do take this to extremes on a regular basis so that they can exchange moneys (the name for the papers) for things they want too, but they have the minds of kittens, after all. Should we really be angry with babies? With those less fortunate than ourselves in the brain power department? Frankly, I think it's a waste of time and energy that could be spent somewhere else, finding a good sun puddle, for example. Like children, once they have a thing, the papers in this case, they must spread it as far around as they can, then whine when they have no more. The only good thing that can be said for this is that some of that spreading will invariably fall in the places which swap the papers for our foods and toys and other things.

    I think the real question here is not why they do it, but why other peoples are stupid enough to give away valuable items such as food or toys or tuna or ping pong balls in exchange for nothing more than a silly little bit of paper which they will in turn give to someone else for something else. In essence then, they've given other peoples food and toys for nothing. Why on earth would anyone, even someone with the sense of a kitten, do this! It's mind boggling.

  5. ...addendum to Whicky's wise words above, which the @! settings on my blog somehow wiped out. Vexing. I am looking into correcting the comments issue.
    "Puss Puss, such wise words, but I do believe that you are a little lenient on apes. Apes will use any old excuse not to do something. This is why they invented the dumb construct of "time" - it stops them living in the present and acting immediately.

    Whicky Wuudler"