Striker is deeply suspicious of the Screaming Scary Big Noise Box, and has no idea what to do with the inedible sheets of paper fired out out the front. But if the insane mechanical screeching ever produces a mouse, he’ll be ready!
Humans buy lots of things to make them feel safe and protected from the vast uncertainties of existence, which works out for cats, because they only need the box.
Unless you just bought a complete virtual reality system and a copy of “Heaven v2.0”, you’re not as happy as Neutrino right now
Of course, this gave me an idea
"Why are you laughing? Why do I have a bad feeling?"
My wife the beautiful Dr X tells me that everyone on the internet says Neutrino looks fat. This is because he is fat. But he doesn’t know that, so I decided to rescale reality to give him an understanding of his ever-increasing size. Using only scissors, duct-tape, and moderate levels of cackling, I started shrinking his favorite box a few inches once a week.
He’s already pushing the bounds or reality, but cats are established masters of adaptation. The instant they found out there was evolution they cheated by getting the winners to feed them. A smaller box is no problem, especially when your spine is a slinky spring of relaxation.
Snug as a Tetris piece in a rug. Sorry, it’s hard to rhyme “Tetris”
If anythingthis had improved his comfort, creating a place where he fitted more perfectly than ever before. I immediately ruined it.
He knows something is wrong, and he knows its my fault. I make a note to cut his claws more often. But I cannot fear! I’m pushing the boundaries of cat-box interaction science here. If I can get it down to the Planck scale, we’ll be able to do the Schrodinger experiment for real!
I may have pushed things too far
The exact moment Neutrino decides I can go to hell
But I have patience. Contrary to what this article might suggest, I don’t just sit around playing with the cats all day, so I got on with work and with time he weakened.
I didn’t truly understand the struggle of scientific ethics before this moment.
After mere days of glaring guilt-trips, Neutrino lived up to his name and appeared somewhere a massive item couldn’t possibly have penetrated!
"Does this box make my gigantic rear end look big?"
It looks like I grew a cactus out of pure hatred. A cat-cuss?
Luckily my life was saved by the very laws of physics I’d been taunting. Far before I could cross the TARDIS threshold with nothing but catfat and cardboard, Neutrino’s “eat everything” strategy triumphed. Just as his instincts had always told him it would.
Not so much a polygon as a boxisgone
"You thought you could beat me?"
I don’t think there was ever any doubt who would triumph here. Cats can simply escape from the world and bathe only in their own thoughts and preferences inside a cardboard box. Humans need computer boxes for that!
Striker has taken up the hobby of gargoyling, posing on the highest corner of the house to keep a stern eye on his domain. He is the Cute Knight, an animal-themed avenger out to punish crime wherever he sees it. Luckily there isn’t any crime in the house, but leaving food just lying around would be littering, and he swoops down to make sure it’s never left for long. Often he’ll swoop long before the food has been left, or before it’s even finished cooking, but such is the price of eternal vigilance.
This box is just too small enough!
And also quite well-named
If Goldilocks had been a cat the Three Bears story would have been a much better tale. She’d have stayed in the baby’s bed, wedging herself into the smallest possible space, and the cub bear would have found her and adopted her, and the Bear family wouldn’t have been enraged because for a cat breaking into someone’s house, trying all their food, and breaking their stuff is perfectly normal behaviour.
Neutrino is already well known at by our vets as “M4”, “THAT cat”, and various other capitalized keywords meaning “Get the reinforced gloves and don’t bother being nice”. He’s a more urgent reason to prepare for rough physical contact by using protection than going to an S&M brothel. Luckily today I was bringing friendly little Striker instead.
So innocent even his unconscious body hides from the world
And he exploded.
He was friendly until he felt the stethoscope on his chest, worked out that this new person was a vet, and switched from “friendly” to “food processor MAX”. I touched him to calm him down, which doesn’t work on waste disposal units. He put six scars on my arm faster than a relay race team of offended samurai.
Pictured: calm Striker and my intact epidermis, neither of which were present at the vet’s.
He’d transformed from the cuddliest example of ignorance as bliss to an unstoppable beast-mode, an Incredible Hulk armed with Wolverine claws and a bit of Flash speed. No matter what direction anyone approached from, any part they touched became “TEETH AND CLAWS”. If two people had touched him at once he would have exploded into hedgehoggery. He was hissing the entire time, but this wasn’t “I’m a snake”, it was “See these sharp things in my face because you won’t when they’re in yours if you come closer!”
It would have been less dangerous if I’d put a mine on the table, because that could only scar the victim once. This wasn’t just Jekyll-and-Hyde, this was some secret weapons program craziness. Someday shadowy government agents are going to turn up to recover their lost C.overt A.nimal T.error weapon. And he is going to shred them. We won’t even need to hide the bodies, just stir fry them with soy and rice wine.
Striker got the glove treatment, and the entire staff of the vet (only two people but it sounds more impressive), and escalated things to the towel: the ultimate weapon in feline-physician combat. Even then it took both staff to hold him wrapped for long enough to inject him, and even then only because I was offering myself as a target instead.
The result? Striker is vaccinated, my arm looks like I tried to tickle Jaws’s tonsils, and our vet thinks we’re a vicious combat cat training facility.
After a week in the cattery, Neutrino is now so insecure there’s a risk he come loose from our dimension entirely and float through the ether, intangibly meowing directly into my face and rubbing against my legs for the rest of time.
Neutrino is torn between his joy at our return and his feline directive to never show anything but contempt for humanity. A tragic psychological battle, rendered mainly in the form of operatic arias, two seconds of purring, then sprinting into the distance.
NEW ITEM: Collar with bell. -5 to stealth, +5 to adorability
Our cats learned the price of freedom this week when we fitted them with collars. Our new flat has a only a few square meters of yard - barely enough room to swing a cat, let alone lose one - but it only has a few meters of fence around it. And is therefore, to cat eyes, effectively an endless highway leading to the entire world.
Striker has already disappeared twice, and his casual stroll as we flail and proffer food allows him to achieve by accident the kind of contempt for human instruction which normally requires a grizzly bear and an surprised hiker. Though we’re more scared of the opposite effect, of our poor clawed animal being the victim. So collars it is.
Fitting collars felt like something of an insult, which probably says more about how much we’ve adapted to the cats than their adaptation to us. It was as if we were reminding them that they were and would always be pets. Imagine your dad suddenly insisting you refer to him as “Father” at all times. It’s weird to imagine reducing the dignity of something which will stare right at you in the middle of licking its own ass in the sitting room, but I never did claim to have a deep understanding of dignity.
An unexpected side effect of their new neckties was immediate drunkenness. Cats don’t like making noise, so the bell jangling with every step convinced them that something had gone radically wrong with their bodies. They flexed and lurched like a lightning bolt through Frankenstein’s monster, trying to find a way of working their legs that didn’t ring the bell, before giving up and simply moving slower forever.
Which, in cat time, was about twenty minutes before they tried to murder each other. Leading to a light-speed chase up and down the stairs, sounding like a set of surface-to-air Christmases streaking weaponized jingle at each other.
Working from home means I don’t have to worry about coworkers destroying my productivity with conversations about tv shows, other people’s relatives (aka “total strangers”), or collecting donations for people who are getting sick or married. I live with my wife and two cats: if anyone in my house gets sick or married I will know about it immediately, and my reaction will be much stronger than a tenner in an envelope.
Which doesn’t mean my coworkers can’t destroy my productivity. It’s just that their questions are much more effective.
Neutrino doesn’t inquire after pointlessness like what I think of the match. He asks “Why aren’t you just lay right down on the floor in a sunbeam?” It’s a damn good question, and one I frequently don’t have an answer for. On the upside, I now hoover more often.
Likewise, Striker asks “Am I just the cutest warmest thing in the world?”
I normally hate rhetorical questions, and such blatant fishing for compliments should be repulsive – even in a species predisposed toward fish – but it’s hard to resist answering anyway.
When my cats don’t answer my questions it’s not because they can’t talk, but because questions like “Who’s the cutest fattest little furball?” are clearly rhetorical.
See also “Do you want food?” and “Do you absolutely HAVE to sit right on my keyboard?”