Kitty Cat Corner

The secret lives of cats

Cats are the best pets, for many proven, fact-based reasons, but their alter egos, known only to their human owners, are one of the most compelling.

Shadow Cecilia—my cat for 15 years—for instance, had an elaborate alternate history that far eclipsed her official origin story as a furry West Berkeley rescue kitten.

It took many years, and numerous glasses of high-octane Czech Republic absinthe, for her true origin story to reveal itself to me, but here is what I eventually gleaned: Shadow’s alternate personality was that of a burlesque dancer and jazz singer in a shady bar in San Francisco’s historic Barbary Coast. Her name was Serenity Sweets. I, a crude sailor, kidnapped her late one night during a rainstorm as she left the bar, and squirreled her away to my house across the bay in Berkeley. There I fell in love with her and faithfully served her, devoting myself to her for the rest of her natural life.

Elijah Darkness, my current kitty, has a more mundane—but equally important—alter persona. He is a 19-year-old cowboy from Wyoming, named Clyde, who rode his horse west in search of his girl. Instead he found me, his big brother, and we now live in a West County apple orchard, which is as close to a Wyoming ranch as we’re ever going to get. And twice as beautiful, as far as I’m concerned.

But that’s not all. In another turn of alternate facts, Elijah has a girlfriend, named Pumpkin, who he’s never met. She, too, is a fluffy black cat. They write each other occasional love texts, and once Pumpkin even sent him a handmade card in the mail. Pumpkin is very much a real cat, and a breathtakingly beautiful one at that. Given that Elijah is so dashingly handsome that married women must wear their wedding rings around him lest they forget their husbands, the two fluffy black felines are made for each other.

My friend, Marieka, tells me that her cat “is a Southern gentleman cat who speaks in a gravelly voice. His English is quite good for a cat, but he spells words that end in Y with an EH instead and writes texts in ALL CAPS, because, you know, paws. He enjoys reading the New Yorker but doesn’t often understand the cartoons. He would vote Democratic if cats were enfranchised, and dislikes Trump INTENSELEH. If he assumed a human form, he might eat nothing but butter and chicken.”

To which I respond, how much absinthe have YOU been drinking, young lady? But really, kudos to all the kitties out there with their sublime secret lives.

Mark Fernquest lives in a glass house in an apple orchard. He dreams of driving a battered V-8 Interceptor across the desolate wasteland, in search of gasoline.

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