Kaori, that's the name of the human whom I keep in my house, read me an excerpt from A Cat's Guide to Human Beings. It explains that the main reason we cats get and keep human beings is that they have opposable thumbs, and those thumbs are very useful -- for opening doors, cans, and boxes, turning the pages of books, and changing TV stations. Humans are restive and inflexible, however, and are not easy to train, the guide warns, and we must resort to the method of <pester and pester, and, if that doesn't work, punish." Occasional punishment, like scratching a new couch, toppling a pot of plant, and leaving a hairball on a silk blouse, does them good. Humans are not very nice, if we follow this guide.

Meow, meow, meeow, miaaauh! I must admit I like humans, the ones I've encountered, anyway. My experience with them has been very positive. Granted I've come to know intimately only two humans so far, one of whom suddenly disappeared some years ago. Rumors go that she "passed away," whatever that means. My research, though very limited in scope, has turned up no clue, and her disappearance remains a mystery to me to this day, and that's all to the good. I love mewsteries.

Now, this human creature I keep in my house currently has been with me all my life, so far as I can remember, and I am fifteen. She must be much, much older because she is a lot bigger than I am, and like other humans she is bare and smooth all over -- no fur except "hair and thair," some on the head and some, you know, down thair. It's so funny. I like watching her lying in the bath tub.

As to the reason why I keep my human, I must insist it is because she is nice, not just now and then, but at all times, hard as it may be to believe. Opposable thumbs have little to do with it. I don't have to open and close doors because I stay inside the house, and my human keeps all the doors inside the house always open, even the bathroom, and I live on dried food so I don't have to bother with cans with those ridiculous thingies they call tabs. Why do they call them tabs, I wonder. They don't look anything like my fur, by which I am identified as a tabby.

In my fifteen years with this human, I am proud to say that I trained her really well. I suppose the widely held view that humans are not trainable is generally true. My human may be a rare exception. She fills my food bowl without any cue, she keeps fresh water for me without fail, and she insists on the clean litter. Well, as for the clean litter, it's that she dislikes its odor when it's not clean. All really pretty good, I must say. Three meows for that. She even knows when I am in a mood to play and drops everything and picks up a ball of string for me to jump on. Believe it or not, she even keeps newspapers in the kitchen piled up to the height of a cushioned dais so that I can sit on it and look important while she cooks her own wet food. When she sits in her armchair, she leaves a room on one side for me to clamber on and sit or lie next to her and watch the television. But the programs she chooses to see! Talking heads. Animals appear only once in a while, unless they are cats. But, then, the remote is so easy to learn to operate; it's made for cat's paws. Sometimes it causes havoc on the screen. That's always such fun!

I admit. I did a lot of work training my human, more work than any sane cat will ever even think of doing. It was worth the effort, though. It is true, too, that she is probably a rare creature. I am meow, meow lucky. On the other hand, I think I am also a rarity among cats endowed as I am with this exceptional talent for training humans. Let's give credit where credit is due. I can't think of any time that I had a need to punish her -- just once. She got very upset when I walked on her computer keyboard and deleted something she claimed was important. But it couldn't have been very important, because I don't even remember why I had to punish her.

Some observe that I write like my human, Kaori. Yes, we do think and write alike. But, it's obvious,

isn't it, who learned from whom?


Mif Kitao, 01.20.99

My Cat Mif


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