Only A Cat Psychic Can
Uncover Cat Secrets
Watson loved Dorothy and, even though Dorothy was a cat, he was certain she loved him in her fashion. It wasn’t because he provided her with a comfortable home, fed her well, and lavished affection upon her.
Dorothy had a habit of jumping onto the foot of his bed with a soft grunt and stepping towards Watson after he lay down to take an afternoon nap. She’d lay her head on his shoulder and nestled her body between his left arm and his chest. A cool breeze from a window near to his right arm flowed over them on mild spring afternoons. Dorothy purred until the two of them drifted off to sleep. The two of them could enjoy these times together because Watson worked from home, updating actuarial tables for a large insurance company.
It was during one of their catnaps that Watson awoke from a disturbing dream. His head and shoulders snapped away from his pillow as if an electric current shocked him. His first thought was he startled or harmed Dorothy. But instead of being in her usual spot in the crook of his arm, Dorothy was staring at him from the foot of the bed. They studied each other.
“You know what I was dreaming, don’t you?” he said.
Dorothy continued to stare.
“Well, it’s not true,” he said.
By the time Watson finished his sentence, Dorothy had lost interest and was off to see if any nuggets of food remained near her bowl.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Watson attempted to shrug off the vision he had in his dream. But in the days that followed, he became more suspicious and Dorothy became no less indifferent. He needed a way to extract more information from his silent companion. The Internet was his best option. He typed “communicating with a house cat” into Google. There were thousands of results. The most promising were websites for psychics who offered instant, clear, and, in one case, a digital connection into any cat’s psyche.
According to the website, all Watson had to do was to hold Dorothy in front of his webcam. Best of all, the first five minutes were free.
Dorothy was fat. She wasn’t affection personified. Her principles wouldn’t have allowed him to hold her anywhere for five minutes, let alone in front of a computer screen. So, no matter how convenient, the digital option was a definite dead end.
After several such disappointments, he happened upon a “cat chat” bulletin board. He read, with great amusement, a long thread regarding various attempts to teach tricks to house cats. The title was: “What was I thinking?”
On the second page, embedded in many long bitter stories of desperation and defeat, one ray of hope appeared on the screen. A cat owner gave a glowing five-star review to www.imfeline.com. It was the website of a cat psychic who made house calls or as the person writing the post, attempting a clever turn of phrase put it: cat calls. It delighted Watson to see that the cat psychic worked in his area.
He dialed an eight-hundred number. A friendly male voice answered. The man explained that, for one hundred dollars and the cost of transportation, the cat psychic would conduct a one-hour session at Watson’s home. If the session to continued past one hour, it was one hundred dollars for the next fifteen minutes and two hundred dollars for every fifteen minutes after that.
“That could add up,” Watson said.
He glanced over at Dorothy. Her expression spoke of a deep profound repression. It could take a long time to probe her thoughts.
“In most cases, the psychic gets results in less than an hour,” he said. “It’s the owners that want her to stay on. I mean, after all, what on earth could keep a cat’s attention for more than a few minutes?”
“Okay. I’d like an appointment.”
“Hold on a second, please.”
Frank Sinatra began singing in Watson’s ear.
After a few minutes, a woman came on the line.
“You want to know something about a cat,” she said.
It was a statement, not a question.
Watson didn’t want to be too specific to a stranger on the phone.
“Yes. I had this vision, well, actually a dream. Since then, I’ve grown more and more convinced it wasn’t just a dream but a message from my sub-conscious. It’s not anything terrible, but my suspicion has affected our relationship. Any insight you could provide about my cat’s state of mind would be fantastic. Any information you could provide about her state of mind would be fantastic. I have to know what’s she’s thinking.”
He expected a reaction, most likely derision, but the receiver remained silent for some time. He wondered if the woman thought his inquiry was so ridiculous she had hung up.
“Are you still there? he said.
“Get your cat to make some sound. Pick her up and hold her by the phone if you have to.”
That was easy. Dorothy was as vocal as she was fat. She disliked being picked up. When he scooped her off the couch, she squawked.
“Okay,” the psychic said. “Thursday at four is good for me. Cash only.”
“What’s your name?”
“You want to call me something? Give me a name.”
“I said you can give me a name if you want to call me something.”
“Um, all right, how about Pasha.”
He thought an exotic name might make him appear interesting, but her reaction was flat.
“Pasha. That’ll do. Hold on. My assistant will make the arrangements.”
The line went on hold, as did his theory, until Thursday.
Pasha arrived by town car forty minutes late. There was no apology. She didn’t offer to shake hands and her lack of a greeting bordered on rude. However, when she entered the house, Watson had to push down an impulse to take her arm and guide her to the living room.
She was neither the most attractive woman he’d ever met nor the most unattractive. Her body was neither slim nor overweight. Light brown streaks punctuated her shoulder-length dark hair, punctuated by light brown streaks. Heavy black eyebrows seemed brought attention to her dark eyes. She wore no make-up of any kind. Her scent was neutral, without a hint of perfume or lotion. Her clothing was either of fabric or artificial material. Watson concluded she might be a vehement animal rights advocate.
She presented him with a receipt for the round-trip carfare and asked for reimbursement and payment for the first hour up front. He gave her the cash.
“I’m curious,” he said. “Why did you ask me to provide a name for you?”
“Certain people find me irresistible and I don’t have the time or temperament for it,” she said in a matter-of-fact manner.
Then she stared at Watson as if she had all the time in the world. Her stare had an obvious meaning. She was on the clock and the clock was ticking.
“I’ll get Dorothy,” he said.
That was easier said than done. Dorothy wasn’t fond of strangers. She had retreated to the back of the bedroom closet. Watson had to use the dreaded Dust-Off compressed air. She loathed the hiss of compressed air more than a dog passing too close by the house. She quickly rumbled out, making a slow clumsy run for it. Watson grabbed her and settled her on the couch next to Pasha. Dorothy, too rattled after her recent dust-up with Dust-Off, didn’t put up much resistance.
He thought Pasha would mouth soothing words and stroke her, but it was quite the opposite. Instead, they regarded each other with distrust. Pasha refused to blink. Dorothy emitted a throaty warning.
“Her name is Dorothy,” he said.
“So you think,” Pasha said.
“What do you mean?”
“You call her Dorothy. She thinks her name is Water.”
“You mean like tap water?”
“You could say that. I wouldn’t.”
He immediately became suspicious. Was he being conned?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I tried to give her a bath once.”
Watson showed Pasha the back of my hand.
“You see these scars? It’s not very logical she’d think her name was ‘Water.’”
“Logic?” Pasha said.
She made a noise that sounded like a soft growl in the back of her throat.
“You want logic from a cat?” She said. “Get yourself a Garfield calculator.”
“Water was the first really interesting thing Dorothy noticed after she could clearly see,” Pasha continued. “Perhaps it was a running kitchen faucet, a hose, or a garden sprinkler. Whatever it was, it fascinated her. She knew that image was her identity. Cats think in images, not words or sentences. You tell me she doesn’t like water, but she enjoys it when you step out of the shower and rub your wet foot over her head and down her side. It reminds her of her mother’s tongue.”
It was true. The after-shower ritual always had Dorothy purring with gusto.
“How did you know that?” he asked.
“Cat Psychic? Remember?”
“But you really didn’t think I could communicate with your cat, did you?”
“Are you a people psychic too?” I said.
“I don’t respond to so-called charm,” she said. “Let’s focus on that theory on why am here.”
“Like I told you on the phone I had a dream one afternoon. In this dream, Dorothy and I were the same size. But it was clear I was her pet. However, that wasn’t what disturbed me. In the dream, I cleaned her litter box, took the contents out of the house in the same plastic bags I bring home from the supermarket, and then, outside the house, exchanged her droppings for my food and hers. I don’t go out much. So I always combined taking her litter to the street with a trip to the corner store. It’s possible she thinks the plastic bags are the same and I pay for the food with her droppings.”
Pasha remained silent but the shine in her dark eyes showed she was still interested.
“She’s a good girl,” Watson said. “She knows it. She knows everything about her, including the way she, um, relieves herself is good. I tell all the time what a good girl she is. But I work hard to keep her in expensive cat good. Believe me, it wasn’t my dream to work on insurance tables all day. Look, the dream could have been about be a burrito I had for lunch. And maybe it’s petty to concern myself with her fantasies. I know she considers herself the superior creature. But shouldn’t I at least get credit for providing her with a good home and a full belly?”
“And there’s more,” Watson went on, his voice rising. “She always stares at me when I clean her box. She watches how careful I am not to spill a single flake as if each flake were precious. Now it’s annoying. It’s like I’m under the thumb of a micro manager who needs to make sure I’m doing a perfect job. I’ve avoided that kind of supervision my whole life. It’s why I do this work from home. How can I enjoy having that kind of manager nap in the crook of my arm?”
“All right,” Pasha said. “You made the right choice having me come here. I can see you’re a sensitive person. Someone worthy of living with a cat. You’re clever enough to know changing the litter box ritual, for example using different bags or emptying the contents into a can, wouldn’t have any effect on her point of view.”
“So I’m onto something,” Watson said, his eyes opening wide.
“She’s a cat. Anything’s possible.”
“What do we do?”
“The way I can explore the images in her mind is to wait for her to enter the box.”
“What if she doesn’t want to go right away? That could get expensive. Could you put it in her mind to go?”
“Sure, and, after that, I’ll cure cancer and bring lasting peace to the Middle East.”
“I see your point.”
“There is something you could try. Clean out the box. Put new litter in it. That could make her decide to go.”
When Watson finished with the box, he stood back and waited with Pasha. She closed her eyes. He looked at her more intensity. He suddenly felt Pasha was much more attractive than when he first met her. She sat almost motionless. It appeared as if she had willed herself into a trance. She ignored a wisp of hair that had fallen across her cheek. Watson fought an impulse to brush it aside. He wanted to remain silent and allow her to concentrate, but he felt an overwhelming need to interact with her.
“So where does your psychic gift come from?” he whispered.
“I’m a cat,” she said.
“You mean you can feel like a cat? Or you think like a cat?”
“No, I mean I’m a cat,” she said, her eyes still closed. “A cat trapped in the body of a woman.”
“I don’t understand,” Watson said. “A woman can’t be a different species.”
“We recognize men who know they’re trapped in a woman’s body. Or vice versa. I’m a trans-specie-al. A cat trapped in the wrong body.”
She paused. Then she sighed.
“There’s no surgery or hormones for me. I have to make the best of it,” she said.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Kidding? I’m so glad I can provide you with amusement by sharing what has been a lifelong struggle of confusion and frustration.”
“Look, I don’t mean to unkind. I mean, you have to be joking.”
“You’re claiming my situation is a joke? My childhood would have been a barrel of laughs for you,” she said.
“Please. Cat psychic I can buy. But trans-specie-al? I’ve never heard of a trans-specie-al. How come it’s not all over the web?
She stared at Watson for a moment with her lips pressed tightly together.
“Human society is only just beginning to accept nonconformity. If you had a condition for which there was no treatment or cure, would you make the rounds of TV talk shows? We cats are loners. If we have a comfortable home, most of us prefer to stay inside. Eat, nap, you get the idea. But some of us have just a bit too much human in us. We’re forced to venture out.”
“Let’s say you’re a cat in a woman’s body. You sound human to me. How come you speak English? What was about all that talk about how cats think in images?”
“I speak Spanish, French, and Chinese too. Didn’t you read my website? Chinese is a language of images. In a sense, the Chinese think in images.”
“But you don’t have a cat accent.”
“Have I given you any indication that I have a human sense of humor?”
“Why are you telling me all this?” Watson said. “What if I go on a TV talk show or write a book?”
“To be honest, I’m not exactly sure why. Sometimes I get a feeling about a person. I can tell you love Dorothy. There are many cats that have nothing but contempt for their food units. Dorothy likes you. You’ve respected her about as much as a person can. Trans-specie-als aren’t some huge secret society. We’re not hiding out. Many take advantage of our natural attraction. If people pay because they like something about us, why publicize the reason?”
Pasha could almost see the idea forming in Watson’s mind. She smirked.
She said, “If you write some silly Internet post about us, good luck finding another trans-specie-al to back you up. Even if you had a recording of this conversation, well, there’s always ‘just kidding.’”
They heard a familiar scratching sound. Dorothy had discovered the box was clean. Naturally, this required an investiture.
“So what do you think?” Watson whispered.
“Quiet,” Pasha said, quickly. “Why do people always have to express their most obvious thoughts?”
Pasha studied Dorothy as she went about her business. After a while, Dorothy scratched up a bit and headed for the kitchen.
“What now?” Watson said.
He almost said, “What meow?”
“Clean the box. Do it so Dorothy has time to see what you’re doing.”
Dorothy returned to ensure everything was going well before heading off for a late afternoon pole scratch.
Watson was impatient for an answer.
“Well?” he said.
“You must remember this, a piss is just a piss,” said Pasha.
“I thought you didn’t have a sense of humor.”
“I didn’t say that. I said a human sense of humor. I like that movie. Bogart was a trans-specie-al. I bet you didn’t know that. That’s why he could get away with anything and the best people always loved him.”
“So why does Dorothy watch me so carefully?” he said.
“There was some interest,” Pasha said. “Did you ever forget to empty the box for a couple of days?”
“And were there a couple of incidents because of that?”
“I see where you’re going.”
“Exactly. She just wants to make sure you’re doing your job.”
Dorothy wandered back into the room. She sat on the carpet facing Pasha and stared at her.
“Hmm,” said Pasha.
“What is it?” Watson said.
Watson was excited, expecting to hear some astonishing revelation about his housemate.
“She doesn’t like it when the crunchy food bowl is empty and she wants more mushy food.”
“I thought she didn’t speak in words.”
“She doesn’t,” Pasha said with infinite patience. “Dorothy holds an image of the empty crunchy bowl and has bad feelings, then…”
“She holds an image of lots of food in the mushy bowl and she feels better,” Watson said, completing her thought.
Pasha glanced at the wall clock.
“So you have your answer,” she said. “Unless there’s something else, I’m done here.”
“Wait. I still have 15 minutes. I want to know more about Dorothy. I want to know more about you.”
“Sorry. You didn’t pay to know more about me. As for Dorothy, she’s fine. There’s the food thing, but that’s your call. She doesn’t have any major complaints.”
“But does she understand I take care of her, not the other way around?”
“I’m saying she knows the food gets distributed by you. She’s not interested where it comes from before that. She’s not interested in your activities unless they relate directly to her.”
She paused. She and Dorothy regarded each other intensely for a moment.
“She’d rather listen to Van Morrison than the news. That’s not surprising if you know what I mean.”
They heard a car horn outside. Watson walked her out.
He thanked her. She nodded and began walking away without saying goodbye.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “I don’t suppose you’d like to have dinner with me tomorrow?”
“No,” she said, getting into the car. “I’m not a stray.”