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    Living With Cats 

   I have never owned a cat, but I have lived with many of them over the 
   Cat lovers will know immediately what I mean by that opening sentence. 
For the rest of you, I will make this observation: a cat is itself; of, by 
and for itself. Unlike most people, a cat does not base its sense of self-
esteem in any way on the judgments of other creatures. Nor does a cat have 
the slightest doubt of its identity. A cat knows what to be. It is mainly 
these psychological attributes that give rise to the endearment or aversion 
that people feel toward cats. In my case, as a hard-core individualist, it 
is a very great endearment. I will try to convey to you some sense of the 
nature and expression of that endearment. 
   Thoreau remarked that "Nature created ferns just to see what she could do 
in the way of pure leaf." I believe that Nature created kittens just to see 
what she could do in the way of pure life. 
   It begins with the irrepressible sparkle in the eye of a kitten. A kitten 
in whose little mind is an awakening implicit sense of self-existence, self-
manifestation, and the joy of self-assertion. A sparkle that says: "I AM! 
And the world is my toy!!" And with that realization comes an immediate 
expression of it. I have often been thankful that cats don't have thumbs. I 
am convinced that if they did, the world would be one big featureless mud 
ball. No creature is so in-exhaustibly playful as a kitten, for whom all 
climbable things exist only to be climbed, all shreddable things exist only 
to be shredded, and all tiny objects must, of course, be cuffed about until 
they have been secreted into the most unfindable nook or cranny. Did you 
ever try to read in bed with a kitten or two present? The first thing that 
will vanish, magically it seems, is your bookmark. Where did that thing go? 
Don't bother searching--you will have to turn the bed upside down and inside 
out before you find it (if you do!!) in the most unbelievable place. Then 
they'll try to get your book--one page at a time, if necessary. But don't 
despair. I have contrived a little game that will delight them and respite 
you. I call it Toe Jump. With your legs under the covers, you simply spread 
your feet apart, toss the kitten into the valley between them, and wiggle 
one toe. CRASH!! With hook, fang and claw, you will find a bundle of furry 
mayhem wrapped around your foot. (Warning! Be sure you are covered with a 
good heavy blanket!) Then just wiggle the other toe, and watch closely to 
observe an Einsteinian streak (faster than light!!) reach across the bed to 
seize upon its target. Another tiny wiggle of the first toe will result in a 
WHOOSH and a CRACK!! (broke the sound barrier that time!). You will be 
amazed at how long a kitten can keep this up--until he finally collapses 
into a furry, purry, snorry little heap. (At least long enough for you to 
finish the chapter undisturbed.) 
   But sleeping with kittens is really not such a good idea unless you are a 
very early riser. Because THEY are!! At the first sign of russet on yon high 
eastward hill they will be up and about, ready to start off just where they 
left off last night. And you will soon awake to the realization that what 
began as an innocent game of King Of the Mountain (on your left shoulder, of 
course) has escalated to Total Strategic Warfare, complete with commando 
attacks, massed infantry assaults, and artillery bombardments. And with no 
mercy or concern whatever for the local civilian population (which is you!). 
They will even be undeterred by a great rumbling roaring earthquake as you 
sit up, bellowing in the semi-darkness. That's just a bigger hill to play 
on. It is quite possible to sleep with adult cats, but not with kittens. 
   There are other dangers too: I wear a gold ring in my left ear, and that 
is an irresistible dangle. If I don't take it out at night I might just lose 
the ear--or at least major parts of it. I once had a couple kittens who 
delighted in biting my earlobes. Roaring at them didn't help at all because 
cats learn very quickly that I am a paper tiger (as a libertarian I don't 
beat up on people or animals). So I decided to make the punishment fit the 
crime. Whenever one would bite my earlobe I would grab him and bite his 
little ear. Two things surprised me: the first was how hard I had to bite to 
make him wince. Those little leathery flaps are really tough! And the second 
was how quickly they learned not to bite me. As fast as, if not faster than, 
most people would have learned. 

   I have always been amazed at the intellectual acuity evinced by these 
little creatures. They really do the best they can with what they've got. 
And, too, they seem to have a strong desire to co-exist compatibly with me. 
These observations led me, over a period of several years, to contrive a 
means of naturally toilet-training cats. This scheme has worked without fail 
for several generations: 

   My cats are always born in my house--sometimes even in bed with me (no 
problem, really, just keep some towels handy when the time is coming). The 
little mothers are adamant in insisting on my presence. If I am asleep she 
will crawl onto the bed and wake me up. If I am awake, she will use the 
nursery I have prepared (just a cardboard box with a hole in the side and a 
couple towels in it), but I will have to sit next to it and put my hand into 
the box so she can nuzzle it from time to time. I don't know why my presence 
at the birthing should be so important, but they make it clear that it is a 
matter of considerable concern, so I oblige them. Anyway, I have always 
found it a delightful experience to "midwife" several tiny infants into the 
world. I keep the nursery in a convenient corner of the house, where the 
mama can peek out from time to time and keep an eye on things while she 
tends her babies. In 7 to 10 days their little eyes will open up and in 
about 24 days they will be able to crawl over a 2 inch high threshhold and 
escape out into the wide world. It is at this time that I must move the 
nursery. I put it outside, underneath my house. And I also close and lock 
the cat door (a little passageway built into the kitchen floor). Mama does 
not like this at all, so I have to spend the afternoon sitting out in the 
yard consoling her and persuading her that she and the babies will be just 
fine in their new location. 

   Those babies must live outdoors until they are four months old! 

   By this time they will have learned to make their toilet outdoors, and 
this is a habit that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

   When they reach the age of 4 months, I reopen the cat door and they 
discover a whole new world. And it's then that I have to relearn to shuffle-
-that is, walk about the house without lifting my feet off the floor. If you 
pick your foot up more than 2 inches, you will surely find a cat under it 
when you put it down again. It's best to go bare-foot. But then you get 
hitchhikers, hanging on by hook and claw, and with no overweight, overwide 
or overload permit this becomes a real traffic hazard. Especially dangerous 
is nighttime travel. The poor little creatures don't realize that, unlike 
them, I can't see in the dark. He will sit in the hallway, innocent and 
trusting, watching me approach--expecting me to step over him, as I always 
do in the daytime. Suddenly there will be a thump and a bump and a little 
squeak as the poor fellow bounces off the wall. (Not to worry--cats are 
really VERY durable.) Then I will have to go find where he is hiding and 
give him lots of cuddles and pets to convince him that it was all a big 
clumsy mistake. They are quite understanding and forgiving about things like 

   A real treat for a cat is ice cream. I have never known one who didn't 
love it--probably just as much as I do. From time to time I will bicycle up 
to Milford Store and buy an ice cream on a stick, then pedal quickly home 
and sit on the back porch and share it with Frietle, who sits next to me on 
the railing where his head will be level with mine. He will lick on one side 
whilst I nibble on the other. The important thing to remember is always to 
leave the last little bit for him to finish off. That way he knows first-
hand for sure that it is indeed all gone and thus won't be grumbling about 
looking for more. This first-hand knowledge is quite important to cats; they 
are not very willing to take somebody else's word for anything. 

   One last item to consider: the importance of playmates. Don't have just 
one kitten--have at least two (three is even better). The physical and 
psychological interaction will result in healthier adult cats. Only once did 
I have just one kitten, and he became extremely psychologically fixated upon 
me. I felt sad to see such a distortion in what should have been a healthily 
independent psyche. I believe the natural inclination of a cat toward 
spiritual independence should be fostered, not inhibited. Then when he comes 
to me for food, warmth, and affection (that's really what they need from us-
-and all they need from us) I will know that it is HIS CHOICE to do so, and 
that he is not acting merely from some sort of behavioral conditioning. For 
your own spiritual well-being, you must always remember your 
responsibilities in your relationships with cats; especially in your 
dealings with kittens. Don't ever forget that there is a special place in 
the universe for a kitten's purr. 
   The purr of a kitten has a sound that is unique in the world. It flows 
out from the warm, furry little body of the kitten, rises up from earth into 
the heavens, bypasses all the assembled seraphim and cherubim, courses 
between the guardian angels, and passes directly into the Ear of God, 
reminding him of the reason why he created the Universe. 

   Dogs are nice, I admit. But a good warm relationship with a cat is much 
more satisfying to me because the psychological feedback I get from a cat is 
much different than what I get from a dog: 

   My dog thinks I'm God.    My cat is an atheist. 

   THE CAT RANCH--Part 1 

   Dear Sir or Madam, 
   I would like to bring to your attention a fabulous business opportunity. 
If you act fast, you can get in on the ground floor and stand to reap 
considerable financial rewards. 
   A group of us are considering establishing a large cat ranch near 
Hermosillo, Mexico. It is our purpose to start rather small, with about one 
million cats. Each cat averages about twelve kittens a year. Cat skins can 
be sold for about 20 cents for the white ones and up to 40 cents for the 
black. This will give us 12 million cat skins per year to sell at an average 
price of around 32 cents, making our revenues about $3.8 million a year. 
This really averages out to $15,000 a day--excluding Sundays and holidays. 
   A good Mexican cat skinner can skin about 50 cats per day at a wage of 
$3.15 a day. It will only take 960 men to operate the ranch so the net 
profit would be over $11,900 per day. 
   Now, the cats would be fed on rats exclusively. Rats multiply four times 
as fast as cats. We would start a rat ranch adjacent to our cat ranch. If we 
start with a million rats, we will have four rats per cat each day. The rats 
will be fed on the carcasses of the cats we skin. This will give each rat a 
quarter of a cat. You can see by this that the business is fully self 
supporting and is really automatic throughout. The cats will eat the rats 
and the rats will eat the cats and we will get the skins. 
   We plan to organize a Mexican corporation (Tanstaafl Ltd.) with uno 
centavo par value stock. This is equal to .0008 per share, American money. 
We plan to sell 99,000,000 shares at par. This comes to $79,200 American 
dollars (or is it $792 ?) 
   Eventually it is our hope to cross the cats with snakes, for they will 
skin themselves twice a year. This would save the labor costs for skinning 
as well as give us two skins for each one cat. 
   I regard this as the opportunity of a lifetime, and have been trying to 
get as much cash together as possible. So far I have got a second mortgage 
on my house, cashed in my life insurance, sold my U.S. Savings Bonds, closed 
out my checking and savings accounts and auctioned off my collection of 
unusual beer cans from around the world. Unfortunately, I didn't get quite 
as much capital together as I had hoped and only came up with $47.39. So I 
am writing to solicit your participation in this sure-fire venture. 
   Let me know how many shares you wish to purchase. As you can imagine, we 
are rather particular who we want to let into this, and want the fewest 
investors possible. I think we should get started right away. 

   THE CAT RANCH--Part 2 

   We are pleased to report that considerable progress has been made on the 
CatRanch Project. Of interest to you may be some recent advances in the 
field which have transpired since the initial public offering was issued: 

   1. The recent GATT negotiations included special provisions to eliminate 
all tariffs on cat skins, better known as the GATT CAT PACT. 

   2. In considering the establishment of minimum wage thresholds for 
workers over twelve years old, the cat skinners lobby successfully excluded 
this category of workers from minimum wage requirements, along with grape 
skinners, grapefruit skinners and mule skinners. This special amendment to 
the bill is known as the FELINE REDLINE BYLINE amendment. 

   3. It has been learned through intensive study funded by Governor Clinton 
and conducted by a group of graduate researchers from the University of 
Wyoming that the rat ranch will attract a population of scavengers that 
feast on the third-level remains, thus keeping the place clean and providing 
for another level of symbiotic enterprise. This additional enterprise is 
known as the VULTURE CULTURE VENTURE, and is being investigated also as a 
source of feathers for harpies' hats and guano to make visiting legislators 
feel right at home. 

   4. A recent set of clonal experiments on cat/snake crosses looks 
promising. Cat claws can now be eliminated in a clonal-DNA manipulated 
growth system, and better feeds are expected to yield larger cats. Harvard 
is patenting the NO-CLAW PAW, and Princeton is patenting CARBOHYCATS, a new 
feed mixture. 

   5. There are excellent prospects for obtaining a contract with the 
Baskin-Robbins Corporation for the provision of large numbers of rat skins 
with which they will produce fur-lined, insulated, drip-free ice cream 
cones, thus enabling them to expand their business operations into such 
lucrative tropical countries as Ethiopia, Ruwanda and Somalia. This aspect 
of the business will be known as the FIRM CREAM SCHEME. 

   6. Also on the international front: in a joint venture with a Catalonian 
company, the Katyis firm, has established a cat ranch in Latvia. They study 
catabolism and process the meows into caterwaul to use in rock band 
concerts. The government has imposed a tax on cats, which the firm pays in 
kind, so there is now a stockpile of cats in a catacomb in Riga. Their cat 
food consists of caterpillars paid for by a loan from Advocats for the 
Catenation and Categorizing of Catastrophes. The cats will be used in a 
catapult aimed at the Baltic sea to guard against foreign invasions of 

   7. Another project currently under investigation is a process for boiling 
rat bones down into a glue for uses in the artworld. Some of the potential 
uses for this product are: as a foundation for makeup, in the assembly of 
the intricate mosaics used on some costumes, and as an emulsion for oil 
paints. New chemical technologies in the formulation of fluid matrices show 
great promise in the processing of ratbone glue for artwork. 

   While we are convinced that this project is the investment opportunity of 
a lifetime, we realize that you must make investments with an eye on both 
the future of border trade negotiations and the true value of colored pieces 
of paper. In light of both these considerations, we are prepared to accept 
rubles, Confederate Dollars and pre-1980 Brazilian bank notes. We are set up 
to send your stock certificates and dividend checks to you in the Grand 

   I am indebted to these people for their contributions to THE CAT RANCH 
   Iloilo M. Delo for the first four sections of Part2. 
   Fred Foldvary of the Agricultural College of Latvia who, fortunately for 
me, sent his contribution (section 6) in English rather than Latvian. 
   Kathleen Klep, who created the RatBone scheme in section 7. 

   From the diary of a paranoid pussycat: (Translated by Heather Higham) 
   DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling 
objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry 
cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the 
mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. 
Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. 
   DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their 
feet while they were walking almost succeeded. Must try this at the top of 
the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I 
once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair....must try this 
on their bed. 
   DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in an 
attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike 
fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good 
little cat I was....Hmmm. Not working according to plan. 
   DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason 
I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning 
foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid. 
My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth. 
   DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was 
placed in solitary confinement throughout the event. However, I could hear 
the noise and smell the foul odor from the glass tubes they call "beer." 
More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of 
"allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage. 
   DAY 774 - I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe 
snitches. The dog is routinely released but seems more than happy to return. 
He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an 
informant, as he speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my 
every move. Due to his current placement in the little wire room his safety 
is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time.... 

   Schrödinger's cat experiment: 
   Does the theory of quantum mechanics apply to macroscopic objects? Erwin 
Schrödinger dramatized the question in 1935 with a thought experiment. 
Imagine a sealed box, he proposed, containing a cat, a vial of poison gas, a 
piece of radioactive material and a radioactive-particle detector. The 
device is rigged so that the detection of a particle triggers the release of 
the poison and the death of the cat. The detector is switched on just long 
enough for it to have a 50% chance of registering a particle, and so the cat 
has a 50% chance of surviving. According to quantum mechanics, it is 
meaningless to say, before the box has been opened, that the cat must be 
either alive or dead. Rather, it exists in a  superposition of states: it is 
both alive AND dead. If someone were to look at the cat, one of its two 
superposed states would instantly crystallize into reality. 
   I explained this one day to my cat, Frietle. He just shook his head, gave 
a little snort of contempt and replied "That notion is barbaric, 
pretentious, and ridiculous! Barbaric, because no decent person would treat 
a cat in such a cruel manner. Pretentious, because Schrödinger assumes the 
facts of reality are determined only when HE peeks into the box. He 
completely neglects the fact that I too am a conscious entity, and I 
certainly know if I am alive! It is ridiculous in its assumption that 
reality is determined by ANY consciousness, either Schrödinger's or mine. It 
is very clear that the universe was around (and functioning quite nicely, 
thank you) for a billion years before there were any conscious entities at 
all in it. And it is equally clear that the universe will continue to 
function for a billion years after Schrödinger is merely a little pile of 
dust--and I am an even littler pile of dust." 
   Having tossed off these profound ethical, epistemological and 
metaphysical observations, Frietle turned up his tail (the tail of a cat is 
his principal organ of emotional expression) and ambled off to find a 
comfortable place for his afternoon nap. 
   He returned a while later and added this comment: "If Schrödinger had any 
sense of scientific procedure, he would simply have put TWO cats into the 
box. Applying the Pauli Exclusion Principle, their scrapping, scratching, 
and screeching would have left no doubt in the mind of any observer as to 
their being alive." 

   Another great Dane has made free 
   With a question of Be or Not Be. 
   Now might Schrödinger's puss, 
   In descending by schuss, 
   Leave one track on each side of a tree? 

   We aren't Siamese if you please; 
   We aren't Siamese if you don't please. 
   We ain't never been nowhere near Siam, 
   And we don't care if no one knows where I am. 

   A fine young kitten recently came to live with me. She came equipped with 
a Pratt & Whitney dual-cylinder one-pusspower engine, and when she revs it 
up I can hear it all the way to the other end of the house. I think I will 
name her Wachova, that being short for WatchOver, because she exhibits a 
very strong desire to watch over me. Even when she is napping she will move 
from place to place so as to be able to keep me in view all the time. I 
usually name my cats for some notable characteristic, or else for a body 
part (I don't remember what began this particular practice). If you are ever 
stuck for a name, here are some I have used: Tibia, Fibula, Fovea, Flatula 
(for a problem she developed when she got pregnant), Ventricle, Fallopia, 
Patella, Clavicle, and Femur. But you should never name a cat Schrödinger! 
Not unless you are very sure the cat will outlive you. Because if that cat 
dies, you may cease to exist! 
   Other names for cats: Meow Tse Tung, Charjji Daffers, Alice B. Twoclaws, 
Carpy Deem, Blivet.

   If man could be crossed with a cat, it would improve man, but it would 
deteriorate the cat. 

   The ritualism and mythology concerning the cat spread far beyond their 
vermin-control capabilities. The people of ancient Egypt believed that cats 
had a direct influence upon health, marriage, fortune, and other non-feline 
aspects of life. The goddess of life and family was Bast, who had a woman's 
body and a cat's head. Bast was often depicted as holding an amulet of the 
all-seeing sacred eye, the utchat, believed to have magical powers. The 
utchat itself was everywhere in society: as decoration, in home shrines, 
worn as jewelry, and was often depicted as being the eye of a cat, sometimes 
with cats within the eye itself. An utchat at the door kept a watchful eye 
out for thieves and vandals, protecting the home. An utchat over the lintel 
kept a watchful eye over all who dwelt within, preserving them from disease 
and accident. An utchat worn around the neck kept its watchful eye upon the 
road and protected travelers from harm. Given as a wedding present, an 
utchat showing a mother cat with many kittens blessed the marriage with many 
children. The beliefs were legion (so were the utchat makers). By the time 
the domestication of cats had spread beyond Egypt, the utchat was completely 
cat-oriented, often cat-shaped, and irrevocably cat-linked. The word for cat 
in ancient Egypt was mau, their version of our meow, which became the 
universal cat-word. From the word utchat we get the majority of the Indo-
European names for the cat:  cat, chat, cattus, gatus, gatous, gato, katt, 
katte, kitte, kitty, etc. The word Bast became Pasht in later Egyptian, and 
from Pasht evolved the remaining Indo-European names for the cat:  pasht, 
past, pushd, pusst, puss. 

   The ability to roar is determined by the structure of the throat: most 
significantly, the small bones (the hyoid bones) that support the larynx. In 
the greater cats, these bones have been partially replaced by cartilage, 
allowing extraordinary flexibility of the throat and enabling the cat to 
roar. In the lesser cats, these bones are rigid and roaring is impossible. 

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