Sunday, April 1, 2012

Annus Horribilus

My gentle felines, I greet you again with the warmest wishes a gentlecat can: slightly distant and unfailingly polite. In other words, I greet you as honored guests.

I have been silent for many months now--indeed, on sabbatical. I have been caring for my dreadfully ill human, and I entirely suspended my research into human training and behavior as a consequence. It became time, in short, to put into practice all of the conditioning and work I had previously done on my (recalcitrant) human subject. This I did, with the firm claw of guidance, to save her miserable life.

I am not bringing this to your attention to seek appaws. I am telling you this as a vital fact, so please, read this and absorb it: Humans. Need. Cats. In. Order. To. Live.

Last year, very shortly after my last post, I was calmly settling in to the new routine of a new territory: adjusting to new humans roaming around my new territory, methodically peeing on those new humans' possessions so they smelled like they belonged in my new territory--you know, standard cat practice when we are thrust, all unwilling, into a new domicile. Suddenly, my human servant fell ill. She grew positively sickly. Moaned about her middle hurting her. Lay about a lot. I tried everything. I tossed aside the rigorous training schedule and pampered her. I draped myself (selflessly!) across her where it hurt and let her feed me the crunchy food (disgusting) instead of the stinky food (divine!) and only complained HALF as much when it hit my bowl. In short, gentle felines, you will agree that I sacrificed myself on the altar of service in the hopes she would recover.

It was not to be so easy. Eventually she went off to the emergency human vet, who apparently did a bunch of tests of some sort, and when they were returned, it appeared that she had something called pancreatic cancer--from which diagnosis I derived that her human giblets were somehow rotting her from the inside out, and the outcome was grim.

I took this information like a blow. After nearly four years with this human, working with her, training her, correcting her idiocy (full-time job, that), and carefully conditioning her in the hopes that she would become somehow more feline in her perspective and less human, was I now to lose her?

In due time, she went away to the human veterinary hospital, and was gone for, literally, weeks. When she eventually came back, she had this ghastly great scar across her middle, as well as a big hole next to it, and she smelled dreadful. She mewled and nattered on to the other humans who came round to see her; as you know, I have become something of a student of the rudimentary vocalizations humans employ to communicate with one another, and so I got the gist of what they discussed when in company. It was valuable study for me. Parenthetically, let me mention here that I had to force myself to put aside entirely how strange I found it that she didn't just hide quietly someplace until she either recovered or died; I mean, talk about making yourself a target for predators! But in this case, my instincts were proved correct: watching her lay about like an easy meal talking to the other apes (Whicky Wuudler, I miss you so!) gave me the understanding that they were talking about putting her affairs in order. This is a strange human expression, but in essence it means this: she was getting ready to die, to check out, to LEAVE ME WITH STRANGERS.

When I heard that, my course of action was clear. First, know the enemy, and second, crush it beneath my fluffy, elegant, pure white paws.

It would seem that the humans about her were deceitfully expressing that she would pull through. I did some research. Humans with this type of giblet rotting disorder do NOT pull through. They just don't. There are, apparently, many reasons for this, but among the most important is that this is a giblet rotting disorder of high malignancy and inordinate speed, and essentially, the organism breaks before the disease does. It is a staring match with the death angel, and apparently, humans always blink first.

I began with a simple hypothesis: yes, if humans know that the outcome is grim, then they would of course tend to despair, and thus hasten along the progress of the disease. I am no believer in the insipidly syrupy notion of "positive thought." Some humans, who apparently have a defective view of cosmology, will insist that just by thinking nice thoughts you can make even the worst disease/problem/tragedy/you-name-it just go away.

Well, pants to positive thought, say I. I am a scientist, not a garden fairy. When they click their heels together, they get clicked heels, not a trip to Oz. No, I think what these dear human souls suffer from is a lack of bloody information and imagination. They tend to bemoan the bad things that happen to them, but then qualify their own failure to act by saying, "But I just didn't know any better," as if that improves matters. I think that what they need is to know exactly what is going on, know the potential outcomes, have all the information in order, and then make some informed decisions. This, I think, leads to greater self-determination and self-reliance, and greater vigilance, for that matter, which cannot hurt. Does having one's facts in order and complete mean that the trolley won't go off the cliff at the last moment? No, it doesn't. But if the human knows how long they have until the trolley makes the leap, they can adjust course accordingly, and the odds of averting catastrophe are thus increased.

So I embarked upon Operation Inform The Human.

Her fur eventually fell off--fell right off. It was horrible. I made sure that if she came looking for me, I was laying on a pile of hats or scarves. She lost weight. I made her food all the more valuable to her by nicking it right off her plate--if she wasn't going to eat it, I was going to show her that she was missing something quite nice. It worked. She got a little more selfish about the butter--but she also started eating it again.

My gentle felines, all these months later, let me say this: it worked. She lived. She lives. She is alive.

The voyage has not quite come to an end, not just yet. I discovered that the giant hole in her middle, now at least healed over, has not healed on the inside. I poked at it a great deal, and eventually she trundled off to her surgeon so he could have a poke at it himself and see what was wrong. The vet is going to fix it this week or next, and so that will be more recovery time. But the main disorder--the giblet rotting disease--has apparently been entirely excised, and has so far failed to make a reappearance.

I attribute her recovery to information: to knowing the enemy, so to speak, and thus being able to intelligently--as intelligently as a human can, anyway, Bast help us all--attack it. I also attribute her recovery, and here I speak of necessity modestly, but also clinically, as befits a scientist who has made an important discovery--I attribute her recovery, I say, to intensive feline care.

It is important to impress upon these human blockheads of ours that they cannot survive without us. There is nothing, nothing at all, that can compare to the human-feline bond, especially when the feline-dominant power hierarchy is strictly enforced and completely understood by all. This is valuable, gentle felines; this is vital. They need us. With us, they can live through the worst of nearly anything.

It is not so strange that these apes evolved in need of a symbiotic relationship with a superior creature just to get by. They are naked, clawless, fangless, and proportionally extremely weak. What is odd is that the necessity of a close relationship with the feline is not a more obvious one to them. Even odder still is that some humans profess to be "allergic" to cats. On the other paw, I am sure Darwin will sort those biological dead ends out pretty quickly. Such as that stray human male she brought home and then kept. Apparently I make him sneeze.

Which is fine by me, because he at the very least realizes that I am a very important reason that the human female is still around. Maddeningly, though, he chose to repay my very great kindness in horrid fashion: by bringing home a PUPPY.

Viper in my bosom! But that, gentle felines, is a whole other tale.