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The Cat Would Like You to Return to Work 

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Oh, hey. Did I wake you by running full bore through the living room and leaping up the couch arm onto your head? Well, now that you're up, let's talk.

First of all, it's four o'clock in the afternoon. Not only are you here but you're napping. In my 4 p.m. spot. And it's weird.

The first few days you were home it was ... fine. There were long trips to the grocery store and bouts of cooking and panicky housecleaning that mostly kept you out of the way. But now you've hoarded more toilet paper than I have time to shred into a fluffy mountain and you're just ... here. Lingering.

Even worse than your abandoned hygiene routine, the smell of sourdough is unbearable. I thought I made myself clear when I knocked your revolting jar of starter slime off the counter. But there it is again, mocking me like your stupid bird, swelling and bubbling against the glass. The amount of attention you give it is equally unsettling — feeding it morning and night without it having to knock everything off your nightstand or howl directly in your ear. It's not natural.

It's time for some hard truths. You're never going to write that novel. Your French is not "coming along." And you're not getting any better at yoga. Nobody is listening to your podcast. It's time for you to go back to work.

How happy are you at home, anyway? These Zoom cocktail hours are nearly as irritating as when you actually have company over but without the dropped food. (Side note: Pouring the contents of the dusty gift bottle of Kahlua into the leftover milk from your Fruity Pebbles isn't making a cocktail.)

You're so worried about getting or passing a deadly virus that you haven't considered how it's affecting me.

This lockdown is curtailing my basic freedoms. That includes my freedom to enjoy the quiet of the windowsill without you staring longingly at the empty street over my shoulder. My freedom to bathe myself on your pillow and swipe skin from the rotisserie chickens you used to bring home before this bizarre obsession with stockpiling beans started. Beans. When there's a perfectly fat parakeet right there.

We all take risks. Look at all those framed photos on the bookshelf closest to the stupid bird's cage. Do they stop me from climbing up and launching myself at its stupid latch? No. They go crashing to the ground in a heap of busted glass that takes you 40 minutes to clean up and has left at least one sliver under your nail that is starting to look a little puffy. But I don't let that stop me because I'm not a coward.

Let's say you do get the disease. Look at the science: It won't transfer to me. Also the virus is passed by "droplets" which, of course, is a euphemism for slobber. Sounds like dog people to me. Let 'em go.

In fact, only a small percentage of humans — again, mostly dog people who don't personally feed me — will actually die. Could one of them be you? Sure. But if there's one thing cats have learned over the millennia we've spent gracing your temples and homes, it's that there are always more humans. They serve you for a few years and die; you eat their soft tissue until someone notices their mail piling up and then you find another one to bring you food.

Just look at all the people crowding beaches and protests. Think of their cats, blissfully roaming their homes in peace. Look at all that soft tissue. But no. You only think of yourself.

For god's sake, make a mask out of those pants you've stopped wearing and get back out there so I can return to the lifestyle to which I'm accustomed: wailing for food at dawn, napping, glaring at the bird, kicking litter onto your bathmat, napping, glaring at passersby and scooting my ass across the kitchen counter before you return to feed me again.

Maybe your job is one you can do following the rules of this "social distancing" thing you keep blathering about. Maybe it's not. Maybe you breathe other people's air all day while you bring them food or trim their useless claws. Maybe you stand shoulder to shoulder with other slobbery humans, assembling essential products like felt mice with little bells inside them. What do you actually do when you leave here in the mornings? Sorry, that was reflex. I don't actually care.

The point is, yes, you might catch this thing. And if the news you scroll through until you black out on boxed wine and Little Debbies is any indication, it could go badly for you or whoever you slobber on. But either way, I'll be fine.

Editor's note: This is satire. Cat's can't talk. And your pets want you to wear a mask, practice social distancing and stay safe. The dogs, anyway.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor at the Journal and prefers she/her. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.

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About The Author

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal. She won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 Best Food Writing Award and the 2019 California News Publisher's Association award for Best Writing.

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