Short Story Part 11: I, The Cat
So, I gather first of all, that you may be a mite skeptical about me, my attributes and my abilities; this, I suspect, is due to your lack of a cohesive definition of my species written for your perusal; one that you can study at length and digest at your leisure. A sort of ‘when in doubt, see point (a.)’ sort of thing. Well, as a vehicle to your awareness here is the point (a.) to which you can refer to, recall and hopefully remember.
Point (a.) The cat: (felius catus), also known as the domestic cat or housecat, to distinguish it from other felines and fetids, is a small (relatively speaking of course), furry domesticated carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Cats have been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years, and are currently the most popular pet on the planet. Owing to their close association with humans, cats are now found almost everywhere in the world. Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with strong, flexible bodies, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey. As nocturnal predators, cats use their acute hearing and ability to see in near darkness to locate prey. Not only can cats hear sounds too faint for human ears, they can also hear sounds higher infrequency than humans can perceive. In cat society, all felines have a three part name, and as a species are supremely superior to all other animals.
I am all of that to the tenth power and more, but, my life did not begin that way.
Fifty years ago (in cat years) the human that you know as Pearl Prentiss found myself and my littermates one cold rainy morning in a dumpster behind a cheap motel in the Treme section of New Orleans. There had been six of us, four were dead. Our mother, feral herself, had chosen the dumpster as a place to birth us because it was out of the wind and weather, and all was well for the first couple of weeks. The dumpster was thick with rags, cardboard and debris that kept us, if not comfortable, at least, protected from the elements. The dumpster was also home to some rodents; however, with mother’s presence they kept their distance. One morning mother stepped out to forage for food. She could not have foreseen someone closing the lid of the dumpster, leaving us inside without the comfort of her warm body, her nourishing milk and her protection. We did not see her again.
Days and days and days later, my brother and I, shivering and starved saw the lid lifted and were practically blinded by the cloud covered daylight that brought in rain and colder air. A giant, what we thought was giant, head appeared, looking, peering about and curious about the pitiful mewing sounds that we were making. It was Pearl.
Two of my siblings had died of the elements, namely, hunger and cold; two had been taken by the rats. My brother, who Pearl named Bob, had had his tail eaten by one of the rodents and we were literally with our backs to the wall when she open the lid that fateful day, calling for deliverance of any kind.
Pearl Prentiss rescued my brother and I, came back to bury what was left of my siblings and even to search for our mother. She fed, comforted and cared for us into a strong kittenhood. We both had voracious appetites, grew strong and by the time six months had passed we had lost any physical signs of our trauma. My brother was consumed with anger and the need for revenge against the entire rodent world. At a half a year of age he was big for his age and was obsessed with getting away from our home and beginning his murderous crusade. One night during a full moon, the bedroom window was left open; which is when my brother, a fine dusty colored male but more feral than I, escaped and wasn’t seen again. I am much wiser, possessed with more talent, cunning, and above all, the gift of loyalty; you might say that I got the brains in our family. Pearl had become the center of my universe and I loved her like a mother. My real name is Midnight Secret Seeker; my brother’s name is Shadow Rodent Slayer, we are of the breed. You may do well to seek out your feline’s ‘real name’.
One night while napping in Pearl’s lap she heard me purring a song that she had sung to us in the early days and the cat, so to speak, was out of the bag. Little by little, Pearl pampered, cajoled, encouraged and wheedled my ability to communicate, in words, from me. We did, however, make a pact at the onset that promised that I would only speak in her presence-- even to other humans-- that way, if pressed, she could always admit to a practical joke and explain that she was a ventriloquist.
Oh the joy of being able to tell her the pleasures of being feline. Almost all humans regard us with varying degrees of love, fear and hatred; with a little envy thrown in for good measure. Not Pearl. I would sit on her lap for hours telling of my prowess in hunting with fang and claw; of my abilities to run, jump and turn; hurry and hide; wait and strike, to bathe in the sun and to stalk by moonlight. She alone knew of all the little things that amused and attracted me, the ways that I would toy with my victims, the triumph of the killing bite and the taste of warm blood in my mouth. We are much alike, we are each-others familiar.
And now my mission is simplicity itself; to find the best, most direct (with stealth as a primary concern) route across the neighborhood rooftops from Pearl's point a. to Pearl's point b. It’s something that I excel at, finding routes; huntress that I am. I love my job.