"So, Possum," I said, after he'd stretched himself out on top of me in bed the other morning, "You don't seem to be as wild about Lion as you told me you'd be if we got him. Remember how you said it was our moral responsibility to rescue another cat because we had the resources, and how enthusiastic you boys were? The boys and Wendy are nice to him, but I never see you washing his head or teaching him art history. But he's polite enough to wash yours — until you stalk away. He's a good kid. So what's your problem?"
His ears flicked back as he gave me the full power of his all-knowing stare, most impressive when his eyes are just a few inches from mine. I stared back until he blinked and looked away, bored.
"Well?" I demanded, after I got tired of his posturing.
"We wanted a girl." he whined, in that piteous way he has when he hasn't been fed in a few hours. "Now we're like some barbershop quartet. We fellows wanted a sweet little girl to look after and boss around. Someone not like Wendy."
"You should have said," I replied briskly. "It's too late now. He's ours. You need to accept him and make him your protégé, or accomplice, or whatever. He needs educating; I can't tell if he's artistic, literary, scientific, or what, but I'd appreciate it if you'd keep him busy with homework so he stays away from my laptop. Show him how to read."
"It's not as simple as that," said Possum.
"Why not?" I asked.
Possum looked at the ceiling and yawned. "Do you really not know? Isn't it obvious? Don't his adoption papers say anything about it? Haven't you seen his typing?"
I asked him to get to the point.
"He doesn't speak English —" he began. "So?" I interrupted. "Most cats don't, do they?" It's pretty weird that you do."
"— And he doesn't speak Cat like the rest of us, either. So we don't know what to make of him. I think he speaks a Sicilian dialect with a Maine accent, but Toffee thinks it's Hindustani. Harris chews on him whenever he starts talking to us, so he isn't talking as much. Whatever it is, we've never heard it before and it's impossible to translate.
"Sorry they didn't tell you." he went on, now speaking with a clipped British accent that he picked up from Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham. "It's really too bad. Perhaps he'll pick up some Cat if he pays attention. Bright sort of kid, really. Probably. Wish I could help. Must be off now."
And he jumped off me and the bed, tail in the air, victorious.
"He's still your responsibility. I am counting on you to educate him," I called after him. "Start teaching him English now."
So. I finally know what's going on. Poor foreign kitten. At least when he talks to me and looks soulfully into my eyes, I know what he means.