Today I’ve been communing with my cat. Or at least trying to. It’s been well documented that my psychic abilities are in poor condition, but, ever the trier, I thought I would give it another go.
My book says, when talking to your pet you should always be respectful and loving, never call them names (Stinky Fat Bum), or laugh at them, like when they fart, or fall off the sofa. And apparently, as pets have no a sense of humour, you must never joke that if they puke on the bed again, you’re going to put them out by the bins, or that their breath smells like the arse-end of a dead fish (especially if your pet is a fish). So it was obvious from the start that I might be in for some problems.
It says that talking to your pet doesn’t have to be just about the weather and that nice David Attenborough off the telly, it can also be a problem solving exercise. Like asking them why they insist on standing on your bladder every morning. And they don’t even have to be within earshot when you want a dialogue, as the power of your mind can take care of any distance. Nevertheless, I decided to lie on the bed next to my cat and strike up a horizontal tête-à-tête.
In order for the mind meld to work, you first need to empathise with your pet, put yourself in their world, use all your senses. In my case, that was imagining what it would be like to be short, toothless, covered in fur, with a predilection for defecating by the front door (please gods, let this not be a vision of my future). For a while I managed to envision myself on all fours, Borrower-style, round the house, my gunt grazing the carpet, howling whenever anyone touched me, rubbing my chin against door jambs, slurping up fish mash. But after a bit I kept thinking about the bug man in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, so I felt it best to move on to the conversating part.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I was going to say and what sort of reply I was going to get (at this point I was still convinced it was going to work). My friend, Sarah believes cats are secretly champion swearers, and I tend to agree. Especially mine. I picked her for her resting bitch face. I’d never seen such a minty mog. It was love at first sight. And while her purr can rattle a window frame, I’m never entirely sure she’s rumbling for pleasure.
When talking to your pet, you can talk out loud or internally. I chose internally so that she’d know the difference between my serious voice and the voice I use to ask her who’s the fattest of all cats.
Hello, how are you?
I am supposed to be listening with my mind. Her reply is supposed to materialise in my brain. I am not expected to translate purring like a human babel fish. But still nothing. I consult the book.
I am teaching myself to communicate with you, can you help me?
She turns her face to the wall and begins gnawing on a toenail. I stop stroking. Side eye. I resume stroking. Face to the wall. I shut my eyes to see if that helps with the communication.
Is there anything you’d like to tell me?
I see a dragon in my mind, flapping it’s aerodynamically impossible wings in the distance. I am supposed to just go with this and not analyse it. Instead I interpret the dragon as her telling me to burn, human. I open my eyes again and check the book for more instructions. The more I read, the more it sounds like therapy for cats. Shut Up and Dance With Me by Walk the Moon is on loop in my brain. I take this as a sign and thank her for the conversation, trying to keep the sarcasm to a minimum. Besides, as she has no sense of humour, she wouldn’t understand it. She purrs. I have a crick in my neck.
Despite the brevity of the recreated conversation above, I was actually at this for about 10 minutes. 10 minutes of bugger all silence. Except for the purring. And the passive aggression. She knew what she was doing. She always knows what she’s doing. Flipping me the paw. Ultimately, cats are all about jealousy over their lack of opposable thumbs. It’s probably for the best that I didn’t access her deepest thoughts. Because every cat owner knows, if their fur baby could open a tin, it’s game over. For everyone.
ps. Her revolting eye is fine, she’s a scabby tabby with a food allergy and it’s just a flare up.
Struthers, J. (2007) The Psychic’s Bible, London, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd