You may have noticed it’s been kind of quiet around here lately.
When big changes and deep transitions are taking place, we often retreat into silence for awhile to support the evolutionary inner growth process. I think that’s what’s been happening with me for the past few weeks.
I’m not quite sure how to explain and illustrate the changes, I’m only conscious that on some emergent level of my awareness, they are happening. Some long-held opinions are tweaking themselves. Others are deepening into a broader, more solid understanding. And my whole-life vista—how I feel about people and events, how I approach challenges, what I care about, what I hope to accomplish, and how I want to go about it—is undergoing some strange development phase that I can’t quite articulate.
During this time I have made multiple attempts at fleshing out thoughts about this or that topic in essay form, but the essays come out gooey, probably because the thought process behind them hasn’t yet congealed.
But I can’t leave y’all hanging any longer.
So, in lieu of an exhaustive philosophical essay, this dispatch will be about cats.
A thing you may not know about me is that I have the superpower ability of finding/attracting The Best Cats.
This ability has been with me my entire life, since my first bonding with a feline—a lovely, maternally-disposed cat named Sneezy, who comforted me whenever I was sad as a toddler.
There are three ways to get a cat.
You decide you need more cat in your life, and you go out and find one.
Someone dumps their cat on you because they either don’t want it or can’t currently care for it.
With or without any seeking on your part, a cat comes to you by mysterious ways and means, or you are drawn together by the tug of an invisible ball of yarn.
Whenever I have gotten a cat through methods 1 or 3, they have always been The Best Cats.
I know everyone thinks their cat is the best cat, but it’s just not true. All of the negative cat stereotypes (that they are aloof, temperamental, or vicious) come from people who are not blessed to have had any Best Cats in their lives.
Because I have the supernatural gift of soul-level cat recognition, and because I’ve almost always used methods 1 and 3 for cat procurement, almost all of my cats have been, in fact, The Best Cats. This fact has been confirmed by multiple expert observers apart from myself.
However, on occasions when I have obtained a cat through method 2, they have been Mediocre Cats At Best. This is how the superpower works. There’s no room for middle-men. Third parties muddy the pure connection between myself and the feline-embodied perfection principle.
Recently, I said goodbye to one of The Best Cats.
I obtained Fat through Method 1. After deciding that what I needed in my life was more cat, I visited a cats-only shelter, which was just a one-story house filled with like a hundred cats. Almost all of the cats at this shelter were free-range. There were different cat rooms where the cats were separated into prides of friendlies who wouldn’t fight with each other.
I toured around the shelter for a half hour or so, and met many interesting cats of all ages, colorings, and dispositions. As I made my way through the different rooms, I was greeted, ignored, used as a scratching post, rubbed up against, hissed at, and meowed to by dozens of different cats. Though I had to acknowledge that many of these were perfectly decent felines, none of them tugged at the yarn ball of my heart. I thought I was going to have to leave this shelter just as catless as I’d come to it.
But then, a little calico came up to me and gently batted at my shoelaces. I look down at her, and she looked up at me with her inquisitive ochre eyes, opened her mouth and said “Mraat,” and I knew. This was a Best Cat.
I took her home. My daughter, who was four at the time and in her Disney Princess phase, named her Cinderella, which didn’t fit her personality that well, but you have to let small children name their own first pets. It’s a universal law.
I wasn’t worried about the name, though, because I was initiated into the arcane knowledge of another universal law: that cat names expand as time goes on, at approximately the same rate that their catness expands to fill your heart.
Everything about this cat was wonderful. She was extremely tolerant, which was nice because she shared her domain with a vibrantly active four-year-old, who was smitten with the new kitty and wanted nothing more than to lug her around in laundry baskets and put bonnets on her head. Cinderella never bit, scratched, or hissed. She didn’t have any strong preferences for where she should be petted; she appreciated a soft caress on the head and a vigorous belly rub with equal enjoyment.
She was an excellent hunter and brought us many gifts of dead baby rabbits and the entrails of mice. She was extremely intelligent and enterprising, as well. She made her own cat door by lifting the vent cover from the unused duct in the bathroom floor, and climbing down under the house. She soon discovered the concept of game preservation: catch the prey outside, bring it in, and release it. Hours of fun!
Cinderella spent fourteen years with us, growing quite corpulent on love and kibbles and earning the fond nickname “Fat”. Eventually she got a little too fat so we had to switch her to different food, but the nickname “Fat” stuck. She lost weight, but remained fat in spirit until the very end.
Late last year, Fat developed a strange skin condition which the vet thought (but never fully confirmed) was probably a form of cancer. It was as if dozens of moles sprouted up all over her body over the course of a few weeks. We assured her that she was still just as beautiful and perfect as she’d always been, and she seemed to feel alright until the last few weeks, when she began to eat much less and sleep much more.
With the help of some creative holistic treatments, we were able to keep our beloved Fat comfortable during her end-of-life transition. That is mostly what I spent the month of January doing, thinking, and worrying about: attending to my beloved friend Fat as she prepared to depart from this world.
RIP Cinderella Princess Pretty Kitty Licky-Licky Meow-Meow Underfoot the Fierce, AKA “Fat”
Fat passed away early in the morning on Monday, February 6th. We all took the day off and gave her a nice burial ceremony. Her final resting place is under a stone cairn in the herb garden, where she used to spend many luxurious hours napping in the sun.
The next morning, I spoke to a friend and Extremists Being Awesome member who asked if I was going to get a new cat soon. Fat had been the EBA mascot, after all, making many appearances on the couch in my video background during productivity meetings. We were going to need a new mascot.
“Maybe in a few months I’ll get a new cat,” I said. “After the dust settles.”
And the universe laughed.
One day later, a new cat arrived, quite literally, on our doorstep.
Welcome to our new cat, Beelzebubbles Black Beans Underfoot, AKA “Bub”
(All of our family pets for the past twenty years have been members of the Underfoot Clan and have borne the surname Underfoot. For reasons. Bub is certainly no exception.)
We’re now a week and a half in to the Era of Bub. After asking around at the neighbors and checking the local lost pet forum, we haven’t found who he belonged to, if he ever did belong to anyone. We live in rural farm country near the end of a dead-end road, and though Bub has had free rein to come and go as he pleases, he seems content to stay in the yard. About three days after he showed up, he chose to start sleeping in the house at night.
Bub is a Best Cat. For one thing, he is very handsome, with a strong, noble nose and a sleek black coat that glints fiery-red when viewed in direct sunlight. For another thing, he has mostly black whiskers with a solitary white whisker standing out on each side of his face, like a perfect jaunty mustache. And his little toe beans are black, which is why his middle name is “Black Beans.”
But those are just matters of surface appearance. Bub, like his predecessor, Fat, enjoys all the pets in all the places. He is an expert snuggler. He has perfect nighttime camouflage, so that when he’s outside at night you can’t see him at all. But you know he’s there, because he lets you know with an adorable “Mrow?” He does this thing where he lays down on his side and hugs his back legs with his front legs. It’s probably the cutest thing that ever happened. Sometimes during Extremists Being Awesome productivity sessions, he will perch on my shoulder to entertain the other participants. And when he’s sleepy, he will yawn every time you kiss his forehead, without fail.
Meet Bubs in person while being productive with fellow extremists.
This cat arrived by Method 3, and it’s hard not to feel that there’s an otherworldly significance to his arriving just days after Fat’s departure. Did the fat spirit of our former cat find this one and let him know there was a position open at our house? Was he guided here by whiskered angels? Or did he just materialize, a gift from the Sphinx? We’ll probably never know, but I’m glad he’s here.
So that is Life Update #1. Update #2 is that I have thus far kept my New Year’s resolution to work on my fiction EVERY DAY in 2023, and I’m excited to make the following announcement:
Chapter 5.5 of Technate 2051 will be published here on the Substack TOMORROW.
Long, long ago, I published Chapter 5 and then got stuck. Part of getting myself unstuck was discovering that Chapter 5 as originally published was not complete. It needed two more scenes. So those will go out tomorrow in the form of Chapter 5.5.
Later, probably next week, Chapter 6 will arrive in your inboxes.
I’m excited to return to the tale of Zappa Dobroshtan’s adventures in the brave new nursing home of the technocracy. If you want to catch up or need a refresher, check out Chapter One.
Thank you for reading!
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RIP Fat but cheers to Beezlebub 🐈⬛
Bub was sent to you. Fat sent him.
I know that.
I miss the kitties I have had. Caesar and Princess litter mates, cornish rex kitties born in 1991
they lived to be 18 and 19. When Caesar died, he sent me Pierro. the most beautiful little wonderful kitty boy. Pierro lived only 8 years I think. I adored that kitty boy because I knew Caesar sent him. Caesar and Prinnie were the best kitties.
Now I have Miles and Princess the second. I love them. I miss my old kitties so much