10 Things You Can Learn About Your Cat From A Conversation With A Cat

10 Things You Can Learn About Your Cat From A Conversation With A Cat

Have you ever wondered what your cat is thinking? Look no further: Here are 10 things you can learn about your cat from Jinx, a former alley cat from Stephen Spotte’s imaginative new novel, A Conversation with a Cat.

1. On vision

Jinx says: “As I might have mentioned, a cat’s vision is monochromatic, and we see the world in different shades of gray. A detriment, you say? Hardly. Have you ever seen a blue or chartreuse mouse? We see what we need to see.”

2. On a mother’s love

Jinx says: “In cats, a mother’s love goes only so far, then it’s sayonara and see you around the dumpster, but don’t expect hugs and kisses. I frankly doubt that I’ll recognize you, and strange though it sounds now, I doubt you’ll know who I am either. Seem cold and impersonal? It isn’t. It’s life.”

3. More on a mother’s love

Jinx says: “Maternal hormones in cats decline rapidly and soon return to pre-pregnancy concentrations after the kittens are weaned. We noticed right away. How could we not? Mom quit acting like a mom and couldn’t give a rodent’s rear end about us. Now able to forage on our own we weren’t her responsibility anymore.”

4. On eating

Jinx says: “Once my littermates and I were up and running around the alley, Mom started bringing us live mice that we quickly learned to kill and eat. However Mom wasn’t ‘teaching’ us to hunt and kill or anything else. She had no ‘motive’ for doing what she did, not by any definition, conscious or unconscious. Taken at face value her behavior seems altruistic by putting our interests before hers: she’d caught a mouse and instead of eating it she gave it to us. But if you believe this you’d be wrong. In truth the driving factors were surging concentrations of maternal hormones timed to coincide with a critical point in our development, specifically the moment when we suddenly discovered that foods other than Mom’s milk were interesting and digestible.”

5. On hunting

Jinx says: “Contrary to popular lore, mother cats don’t ‘teach’ their kittens to hunt. That’s a load of crap. Hunting comes naturally. I remember the last few weeks of my kittenhood very clearly, and Mom didn’t ‘teach’ us diddly-squat. Even when kittens are young what humans call ‘play’ is really hunting behavior. Not ‘practice’ hunting as some of the ‘experts’ claim, but real. That a prey animal isn’t killed doesn’t make their intent less real. Not every hunt by an adult results in a kill either. And because the object isn’t necessarily edible at this stage in our development doesn’t make it ‘play’ by default.”

6. On killing

Jinx says: “Cats, as you say, are born killers. Killing is what we do. What triggers us is simply the thrill of the hunt.”

7. On dogs

Jinx says: “Dogs are open and obvious, so you always know with a dog. Cats are cryptic and aloof.”

8. On animal rescuers

Jinx says: “Those do-gooders who make a vocation of feeding strays never understand that vaccinating and feeding us won’t save wildlife, it just allows us to live longer so we can kill even more small animals over our now-extended lifetimes.”

9. On humans

Jinx says: “Catching food is serious business, something you wouldn’t know anything about seeing as how everything you eat comes packaged. You think we’re cute when we chase a string in ‘play,’ but that’s only because you’re incapable of interpreting the world from our perspective. ‘Survival skills’ in your case is an oxymoron. It means being able to find the liquor store. All humankind is mostly hairless, slow, and ignorant of nature, not to mention graceless and ugly. Your claws are weak, your carnassial teeth dysfunctional, your senses of smell and hearing pathetic. You couldn’t survive butt-naked outdoors for any length of time without dying of hypothermia or starvation. I’d be first to applaud if you—my very own personal human—managed to catch a stick of celery.”

10. On “cat talk”

Jinx says: “[N]o human ever learns a cat’s third name, just other cats. We address one another by means of telepathy using third names, which are kept strictly secret from humans. You’re limited to giving and using just our first and second names. Way back in cat history before we started associating with you we had only a single name, which is now the third.”

Stephen Spotte’s imaginative novel recounts the tales of a scroungy former alley cat named Jinx, whose memories aren’t just his own but those of other cats who existed before him, one of which was Annipe, Cleopatra’s pampered pet. Through Annipe’s eyes the ancient Mediterranean world of Cleopatra and her legendary lovers, Caesar and Antony, is spread before us in all its glory, pathos, and absurdity. Jinx reveals these stories telepathically one night to his stoned and inebriated owner just home after gall bladder surgery. Annipe’s memories are bookended by Jinx’s own that detail his early scavenging days in bleak urban alleys. Order your copy of A Conversation with a Cat: A Novel by Stephen Spotte.


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