One day while rummaging in a box of old photos, I came across a set of pictures of a cat who was my companion animal back in the 1990s, when I was “between husbands.” I enjoyed reminiscing about Toto (as I named him, because my own name is Dorothy), especially because he provided me with unexpected experiences.
I thought I was giving Toto a home with me because he would be a companion and a source of entertainment. Instead, I found that Toto expected me to be his companion and to entertain him. Moreover, Toto displayed only disdain for my efforts to become a recognized writer and treated my manuscripts with contempt. While fastidious about his own appearance, he arrogantly trampled on my papers, napped on my work table, and snitched my green editorial pencils.
The photos of Toto I unearthed revealed his scorn for my work and his assumption that I was there only to play with him or to watch him perform with his toys. His attitudes were clearly evident from his expressions and his body language. I decided that my only available response would be to arrange those photos into a sequence that would tell a story about Toto and his imperious personality. So I prepared a manuscript for a short book called I Know What My Cat Is Thinking, and It’s Not Very Complimentary, which has just been published by Barringer Publishing.
Since writing this book I have discovered that I am not the only cat fancier who has been completely taken in by a cat. Says Camille Paglia in a book published in 1990, “Cats are autocrats of naked self-interest.” Huh. If anything, that’s an understatement.
Although we are all weaklings, nice things are sometimes said about those of us with cat companions. A study reported in LiveScience.com reports the average cat owner is smarter and more sensitive than the average dog owner. If we’re so smart, then why have we let ourselves be taken for a ride by an animal who loves us only when we agree to be not leaders but followers? Perhaps because, as the same study reports, cat owners also tend to be more neurotic than dog owners. So who wouldn’t be neurotic when we discover we have agreed to let ourselves be dominated by a creature about twelve inches long without its tail?
But we cat owners can have the last word. A New York Times story by Tim Kreider telling about his complete subjection to his cat says, “We don’t know what goes on inside an animal’s head.”
Nonsense. I have proved by my new book, I Know What My Cat Is Thinking, that it’s easy to tell exactly what your cat is thinking. I could tell what Toto had in mind by the way he acted. Which was not very nice.
Not that I liked knowing what he thought; no, he was often highly negative. But I have gotten back at him by revealing to the public just how obstinate, intolerant, thoughtless, vain, selfish, and — well, lovable — he really was.