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0. PREFACE (for the Humans)
Hello, fellow Cat slaves! The original copy of the "Basic Rules for Cats
who Have a House to Run" was uncovered in a surprise raid on the Kitten
Training Centre by the daring Cat Slave Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent
Cynthia Whitney. (She has since been placed in the Witness Protection Program
and is now somewhere in Oklahoma). Their cover was blown when a copy was posted
to Usenet and fellow agent Harold Reynolds (myself) got ahold of it. Based on
careful observations of his masters, plus those of other agents throughout the
world, the list of Cat Rules has grown into a hefty document.
Be sure not to be seen by your masters laughing at the Cat Rules. We
may think they are funny, but they are taken very seriously by our masters
and those who laugh will likely find hairballs in their shoes.
Yours in servitude, Harold Reynolds
The following is a manual of guidelines for the busy Cat(s) who will have
a house to manage after adopting one or more humans. It is, of course,
impossible to cover all possible situations, as those humans are always
up to some sort of mischief, but the compiler and contributors to this
guide have endeavoured to cover as wide a variety of topics as possible.
It is important that this document be kept out of the hands of humans, who
will undoubtedly find a way to use it to their advantage.
In order to get the energy to sleep, play, and Hamper, a Cat must eat.
Eating, however, is only half the fun. The other half is getting the food.
Cats have two ways to obtain food: convincing a human you are starving
to death and must be fed *NOW*; and hunting for it oneself. Obviously the
latter should be pursued whenever possible. The following are some guidelines
for getting fed.
When the humans are eating, make sure you leave the tip of your tail in
their dishes when they are not looking.
Never eat food from your own bowl if you can steal some from the table.
Never drink from your own water bowl if a human's glass is full enough
to drink from. If a human catches you at it and chases you away, run back
as soon as his back is turned and drink some more (unless he tossed the
water into the sink, of course). See also WATER.
The best times to inform humans of your dish's emptiness are when they
are unable to ignore you, such as when they are sleeping or on the toilet,
or you are in one's lap. If you insist on waking a human at what it considers
a "ridiculously early hour" for breakfast (as with the Early Breakfast
CAT CLUB), be warned that the human may be
as likely to throw you outside
or in the basement as to feed you. See WAKING THEM UP.
If you are installed in a lap, be extra friendly with purring and head-butting.
As soon as you have the human's attention, leap off and run to your dish,
meowing to make sure you are noticed.
Should you catch something of your own outside, it is only polite to attempt
to get to know it. Be insistent--your food will usually not be so polite
and will try to leave. If you can't be bothered to eat the food you've
just caught, be considerate and don't waste it; it makes a perfect gift
for humans! Carefully pick it up and carry it to the human's house and,
if the door is closed, leave it on the doorstep. If the door is open, or
there is a Cat-door, take it inside and leave it somewhere highly visible.
The gift will be even more welcome if it is still alive! Live birds and
mice make the best gifts as humans love a good game of chase just as much
as you do, although be careful not to help them; it's their gift after
Table scraps are delicacies with which the humans are unfortunately unwilling
to readily part. It is beneath the Dignity of a Cat to beg outright for
food as lower forms of life such as dogs will, but several techniques exist
for ensuring that the humans don't forget you exist. These include, but
are not limited to: jumping onto the lap of the "softest" human and purring
loudly; lying down in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen,
the Direct Stare, twining around people's legs as they sit and eat while
meowing plaintively, and resting your paws on the human's leg and meowing
to remind them you're still interested.
Coffee is known to be rejuvenating for both Cats and humans. Whenever a
human sets a cup of coffee on the floor within your reach, s/he is showing
you great respect and worship. Softly blow the divine liquid until cool
(you may even put your paw in it to make sure the temperature is just right)
and then daintily drink it.
Occasionally there will be disagreements over what you and the humans will deem
as edible. The appropriate action, should the stuff in question be too
repulsive to ignore, is to bury it. Scratch at the floor and try to drag over
objects to cover the offending item. This informs the ignorant human that it
really belongs in the litter box.
If you steal something from the trash that you are not supposed to have (the
greasier the better), remember to drag it onto the carpet, where the smell can
be detected and enjoyed for several days even if cleaned. Be sure to growl at
your human when she tries to take your prize away.
Some humans have one or more large glass tanks filled with water, called
"aquariums". Inside these aquariums are delicate morsels called fish, which are
much prized by Cats as snacks. If possible, leap on top of the tank, flip up
the lid that the humans use to put food into the tank, and stare down until you
think you can snag one. Unfortunately, this action will require getting your
paw wet, since the fish will not cooperative by jumping out for you, but the
result will be worth it. If you can swipe a fish onto the floor, it becomes an
amusing toy as it flops around helplessly. Once it is no longer entertaining,
you may eat it. Be warned that the humans will not appreciate your efforts, so
try not to get caught in the same room as the aquarium so they won't blame you
for the mysterious fish population depletion. If access is denied by the wicked
humans, watching the fish swim around is a good way to relax.
If humans are preparing a meal or some other food (like cake or cookies) for
themselves in the kitchen, and you feel that you absolutely must sample
some of the raw ingredients (especially if they are shrimp, fish, or chicken),
there are a number of ways you can try to help yourself. The first is the most
direct, simply leaping onto the counter, grabbing the first thing that you can
and running like mad for cover. This is, of course, the most dangerous method.
Better is to find some way to distract the human by luring him/her from the
kitchen so you can sneak in, hopefully unobserved, and steal/gobble at your
(relative) leisure. If you are an only Cat, send something crashing to the
floor in another room and run out before the angry human comes to investigate.
If you have an accomplice, get said accomplice to do the deed. This way you
don't get blamed for the mess, though later you will have to take your turn at
being the accomplice. Sharing the spoils is not required, though it does help
promote co-operation for later "crimes".
The Quest For Food should begin at least an hour before the feeding times your
humans have set for you, because you just never know when their feeble minds
will fail to remind them of the all-important task of nourishing their masters.
Phase One consists of verbal reminders and Meaningful Glances at the
humans, response to which will range from ignoring in the afternoon or evening
to having items thrown at you or being ejected outside if in the (to them)
early morning. Phase Two involves more activity on your part. Divide
your time between hovering near the empty food dish (perhaps licking it to make
sure it's truly empty) and being under foot and issuing more reminders and
Meaningful Glances. Whenever the human's path takes him/her even approximately
in the direction of the food dish or the place where the food is stored,
immediately stampede to either of these locations. The response will likely be
demands for patience, derogatory comments, and perhaps a kick if you get too
closely underfoot. Phase Three, the final phase, involves your
escalating Hampering activities to the
maximum, plus more direct actions like knocking over items from desks,
dressers, kitchen counters, or chewing on books, magazines, plants, etc. Keep
one ear open for the humans, who will likely be on the warpath as soon as they
realize you have moved into this phase. Finally they will either give in or
else it will be feeding time, so be sure to devour your ill-gotten gains and
consider your next moves during your post-meal nap.
Stools with woven cane seats are wonderful snacks. Sit on the stool and lean
over until you're looking at the bottom side of the stool. The carefully nibble
the choicest canes off the stool. They are handy and tasty, and will last a
long time.You, however, may not unless you confine your snacking activities to
when the humans aren't looking!
Most Cats think that this strange-looking plant is Food of the Gods and better
even than tuna. There are some, however, who are sadly deprived of the ability
to enjoy this wonderful treat and will look upon the others with a mixture of
confusion and disgust at the utter lack of Dignity of those partaking. If you
are one of the latter, please skip to the next section.
Catnip is available in two forms--in the wild as an odd-looking plant that
grows in delightfully fragrant, though often rather flattened, patches, and
from the humans in a concentrated dried form. Unfortunately, the humans know of
our weakness for catnip and will try to hold it out from us, often employing
some very ingenious methods to do so. If the humans are careless enough to
leave any catnip within reach, it is imperative to get it no matter what you
have to tear apart to do so. Otherwise the humans will use it to attempt to
coerce us to do things which would otherwise be beneath us.
The greatest hazard of catnip is that it causes those Cats under its
influence to utterly lose their Dignity. They roll around foolishly, purr at
maximum volume, tear around the house at top speed, and do other things no sane
Cat would be caught doing. Do attempt to control yourself, especially if your
humans have a "video camera" and are prone to using it.
Water (also known as Cat Solvent) would be really great if it weren't so
WET! Dripping taps are the best sources of fresh water in the whole house.
Toilets are the next best (but the water inside must be COLOURLESS and contain
NOTHING!) Therefore it is imperative that any sound of running water be
immediately investigated in case a free drink may be obtained. The bathtub is
the best place to lurk in the bathroom when a human is present. A plaintive
meow or two and perhaps hopefully licking the faucet usually will get most
humans to turn on the tap for you. If the bathroom door is closed, demand entry
noisily (see DOORS). The water dish is to be
used only as a last resort in case the humans leave the toilet lid down and the
tub and sink are dry.
If a human has a sufficiently wide-mouthed glassful of liquid, immediately
stick your face into the glass. If the opening is too narrow, dip your paw into
the liquid, swirl it around, and give it the taste test. You may be pleasantly
surprised to find beer or even milk! In any case, if the liquid is good,
continue to sample, but only while your human is distracted. Some of the best
water is ornamented with those cold, hard buoyant cubes that bob up and down in
the liquid when pressed lightly. If your human protests, lick the condensation
on the outside of the glass.
As mentioned above, in order to have enough energy for playing, a Cat must
get plenty of sleep. It is generally not difficult to find a comfortable
place to curl up. Any place a human likes to sit is good, especially if
it contrasts with your fur colour. If it's in a sunbeam or near a heating
duct or radiator, so much the better. Of course, good places also exist
outdoors, but have the disadvantages of being seasonal and dependent on
current and previous weather conditions such as rain. Open windows are
a good compromise.
A) Snoring is not a talent unique to humans - if the Cat is sharing
a bed with two humans, the well skilled Cat can cause one of the humans
to be blamed/swatted/smacked for the deed by the other.
B) If your humans don't let you into the bedroom at night, make
them suffer for it. Even if they give you a nice warm room of your own
to sleep in at night, with a Cat-door to the outside world, that just isn't
good enough. There are several ways of registering your disapproval.
Trash the room they give you to sleep in. After all, the humans don't sleep
in it - so why should you?
Fight noisily with other Cats in the neighbourhood, just outside their
bedroom window. Make sure that you appear in the morning with as many fresh
scars as possible. Spend some time perfecting an aggrieved "Well, I wouldn't
have all these injuries if you only let me sleep in the bedroom at night"
When they finally rise and take a shower or a bath, locate the appropriate
drainpipe and yowl up it. That amplified and disembodied "Meow" is sure
to surprise them - as is the length of time you can do this without getting
When they finally come downstairs, and call for you, refuse to use the
Cat-door to enter the house. There's a perfectly good front door they can
open. Of course, if they should anticipate you by opening the front door
and calling, ignore them. You should only appear by the front door and
yowl once they've closed it again.