Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Banned Book


I have explained before how cats learn by "literary osmosis," — they can absorb information via physical contact with reading matter or by sitting on someone who is holding reading matter. They don't have to be awake to accomplish this — I'm referring not only to the cat but also the person. Possum has learned a great deal about Egyptology, David Bowie, election politics, and university bureaucracy from napping on my husband, even when both are sound asleep. As long as the man keeps holding a book, article, laptop, or iPad, Possum can read and learn.

Harris also likes to read. I only wish he hadn't been so interested in this book. He surely discovered all sorts of feline misbehavior that had never occurred to him previously. This will only lead to trouble; I'm waiting nervously to see what develops when he decides to wield his new knowledge. My greatest fear is that he read the chapter on Litter Box Issues and Inappropriate Elimination. No one around here has ever dabbled even slightly in that stuff and I want to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, Harris is our most dangerous cat. If he chooses to be Good, no cat is sweeter. But no cat is worse than Harris when he decides he will be Bad. I got that book so I'd be prepared for whatever new bad habits he came up with by himself. It wasn't meant to be his textbook.

Before another cat could get near it, I took the book from Harris and put it safely on a shelf that no one can sit on. It's staggering to consider all of the bad behavior I just pre-empted in our other four cats by this simple act.

This is the first time I've censored a cat. I never have a problem with what they read since we don't have trashy novels, pseudo-science, or sensational magazines around here. I want them to think for themselves and I believe most of them have developed critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism in evaluating what they read, the hallmarks of a solid liberal-arts education, human or feline.

Still, Wendy is a Tea Party Republican, albeit misguidedly. I don't know how it happened but I do know she never read anything promoting it around here. But she thinks they are mainly interested in popularizing tea time — adding a lovely extra meal to the American diet. So we leave her alone.

The only other problem I've had over what the cats read is that Toffee is intrigued by my stack of old New Yorkers. I'm ridiculously behind, so there's a tall stack on the coffee table with issues dating as far back as August. He tries to read all of them at once, since cats can usually manage that. But New Yorkers are slippery devils, so he and they slide all over the place every time he tries. I wish I could get through them with his method, but sitting on them has not worked for me.

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