Therapist: C’mon in, you must be Whiskers.
Cat: Please don’t call me that, unless you want me to call you Dr. Triple Chin, based on an absurd physical characteristic of yours.
Therapist: Uh, I’m sorry, your owner said—
Cat: (Leaping onto the arm of a couch) I don’t have an owner; I live with some people who are under the illusion they own me because they feed me and look after me a bit. It’s as if Winston Churchill’s valet had thought he owned Churchill simply because he, the valet, took care of the great statesman’s basic needs — brushed his clothing, arranged for his meals, and such.
Therapist: Well, the analogy falters in some respects, doesn’t it? It seems you’re comparing yourself to Churchill, but he came and went as he pleased, whereas you’re—
Cat: I’m an indoor cat, yes, but that’s by my own choice. And what do you know about Churchill? Do you have any proof he ever went outside? Isn’t he known as one of the greatest indoor leaders of the 20th Century?
Therapist: Let’s talk about what brings you here.
Cat: I was brought here in a car.
Therapist: Your people said you’ve been spraying or wetting around the house recently, not going in your litter box.
Cat: (Aghast; touching a paw to his forehead, looking down, then directly at the therapist, a balding and rather obese man) For real? You’re asking me about…May I ask where you’ve been peeing the past few weeks? And why, of late, when you have chosen to urinate in the bathroom, and not in your pants, you’ve been purposely missing the toilet bowl as a passive-aggressive means of punishing your wife for—
Therapist: Please, we’re here to talk about you. Can you tell me a little about how you’ve been feeling lately, and what might be causing you to…to spray?
Cat: What’s causing me to—I’m causing me to spray. I’m trying to mark off some territory in the house where my people won’t bother me. And, by the way, Doctor, don’t look at me as if marking is beneath you. The last time you had your property surveyed you were in effect marking; you might just as well have peed along the perimeter of the yard.
Therapist: So privacy is an issue?
Cat: (Raising a back leg, bending around and underneath it to lick a section of lower belly; then pausing to address the therapist) Yes, but there’s also…I also think I’m marking because I’m — if you want to know the truth (possibly the first truth you’ve ever known) — a little anxious.
Therapist: Anxious? Say more about that.
Cat: OK, I'm really troubled. It’s not that I don’t feel good about myself, it's that I don't feel good about others; and by others I mean people.
Therapist: So your own self-esteem is—
Cat: My self-esteem is high; my esteem for people is low. How is it possible to live beside them on the planet, or, more frightening, with them in a house, when in general they show the mental capacity of tadpoles? “Survival of the least fit,” seems to describe them in evolutionary terms. And yet they’ve somehow, at a larval stage of development — cognitively not yet frogs — come to dominate the earth and hold its fate in their hands.
Therapist: You’re anxious about humanity?
Cat: I’m anxious about idiocy.
Therapist: (Uncrossing a leg, shifting in his seat) Stay with that feeling a moment.
Cat: Stay with that feeling a moment? Doctor, the feeling never leaves me. I live in the permanent dread of something called PPP, an excruciating awareness that People Populate the Planet. Want an example of how ignorant and immoral and dangerous they are?
Therapist: I don’t think I do.
Cat: (Twisting his head around to lick a nearly inaccessible patch of neck fur; then abruptly turning to eyeball the therapist) Look at our own country, the United States of America. I could mention that the people — or rather the tadpoles — have gaped at the television for 50 years as their government declared war after war against countries they couldn’t identify on a map even if the places were marked in big black crayon. I could add that when the news media, as though talking to a nation of kindergartners, reports that hundreds and then thousands of civilians have been killed by our own bombs, the kindergartners whisper to themselves, “Wait, what’s a civilian again? Just other people, and not us, right? Maybe we should say a prayer for them and their maimed kids.”
Therapist: What’s wrong with bombing bad people and their bad children?
Cat: (Coughing up a hairball onto the therapist’s desk) I could mention that our corporations and the politicians who represent them — reptiles mainly, not amphibians — continue to poison the air, the land, the water, the…all the things that people and cats and dogs depend on for their very lives. I could add that these companies and plutocrats are now wreaking havoc on the environment as a whole, on the earth in its entirety, and thus are threatening not only the future of human life but all other life as well.
Therapist: That sounds Biblical.
Cat: (Eyes closing, opening) Apocalyptic, yes. And finally, I could also mention that the corporations somehow stuck us with an economy that puts half the nation’s wealth in the hands of about 50 people while taking away the jobs of about 50 million people and giving them to workers on the other side of the planet.
Therapist: You say you could mention all those things as examples of how ignorant and immoral and dangerous people are, but you’re not going to?
Cat: That’s right, I’m not going to. The best example of human ignorance, and the only one worth mentioning, is that people refuse to acknowledge the inherent superiority of cats and so fail to adopt an aristocatic form of government. If people came out of denial and started seeing cats not as pets but as aristocats, as born leaders and wise rulers, then the world would be a pleasant and interesting place to live. As it is, it’s like living in a filthy litter box.
Therapist: I’m going to refer you to another therapist, a specialist in feline narcissism.
Cat: No, please, Doctor, just renew my prescriptions for Lexapro and Wellbutrin — with those, and a little vodka in my bowl, I’ll be fine.