The main thing you need to know is that—barring accidents, poor planning or plain boredom—cats can live forever. I’m not talking about reincarnation; I mean same body, same life for hundreds of years. This more than likely goes against everything you believe, but you can’t always trust your eyes. We cats are very good at keeping secrets
“How can this be?” you ask. “I’ve had cats before and none of them are still alive!”
First of all, and let’s be honest here, you didn’t own that cat; it allowed you to wait on it hand and foot for a time. Secondly, have you ever noticed how cats are notorious for wandering off to die? It may have never occurred to you, but this is actually the perfect cover. Those of us who feel comfortable enough to live the domestic life with uprights have to make a graceful exit every 12 years or so.
“But my cat didn’t slink off; I had to bury her myself,” you lament. It is true that some of my domesticated brothers choose to pass on instead of prolonging their lives. As to why, I haven’t the first clue. Some believe they become so attached to their faux family they can’t stand the idea of living without them. To say I find this unlikely is a gross understatement. I would guess suffering the inane actions of one family day-in and day-out would make death the more attractive option.
No, we are not indestructible. With careful planning, we can live a very long time. “Then why is the world not drowning in cats?” you counter. It seems as the world gets faster, we lose more and more of our numbers. If we don’t keep up with advancing technology, we get run over by it—literally. Enough of the damn questions already; I’m trying to get to a point sometime this century.
I guess I should tell you exactly how this prolonged life is possible. In the simplest terms, we feed off living energy. I don’t mean that hippy-dippy ‘earth is alive,’ and ‘feel this tree’s energy’ kinda bullshit. Cats are carnivorous; we need a life force that’s actually living, not just ‘photosynthesizing.’ (Honestly, the next time you find yourself stranded and starving in the wilderness, try sucking on a big, old tree stump and see how far that gets you.)
No one is sure when or how this happened. As far as any of us can remember, cats have always had the ability to syphon the life force off other living creatures. Then, there’s the matter of how much life we get—the serving size if you will. The ratio of life-extension is always dependent upon the size, not to mention status, of the victim. Smaller, normal animals—like birds and squirrels—would obviously grant you less time-extension than, say, an elk. However, draining the essence from the immortally inclined always gives a large boost no matter their size. This is because we aren’t just absorbing the current life of the animal, we’re taking all the time it had left to live. Some of them can have hundreds of years stored up. Animals that have the ability to prolong their lives would mainly be nocturnal creatures: like owls, foxes and, unfortunately, opossums. (In my opinion, the world would be a better place if those dead-eyed, rat-tailed bastards were easier to kill.) Notice any similarities? They’re all killers. In order to keep our lives going, we have to be willing to take someone else’s.
Of course there is another option. We refer to this as “farming.” That’s why many cats choose a family of their own and secretly syphon off them for years. This means just taking a couple months or the occasional year here and there instead of killing them. It’s like living off milk instead of dining on steak. If done correctly, feeding off the uprights can be highly advantageous.
This tactic also can be less than desirable and extremely risky; not to mention way too much damn work. If you’re stealing essence, and don’t plan on finishing off the prey, you run the risk of being detected. Ever hear the tales of cats stealing your breath while you sleep? That’s because sloppy jackasses got caught feeding. If you wake up in the middle of the night, and the cat is on your chest, it stands to reason you were a midnight snack.
I chose the best of both worlds. I prey on those already at the end of their lives. I get the human boost and don’t have to worry about being detected or being anyone’s damn pet. Frankly, the only thing easier would be draining a newborn. Now, I have no certain love for the uprights, but preying on a baby is just about as low as you can get. It’s an easy and tantalizing boost, for sure. Like I said: The energy we syphon doesn’t pull from what they currently have but from what they potentially have. In this case, draining a baby could potentially add 70 years to a cat’s life in one go. Again, I find this despicable. Let’s call it what it is: murder. That’s why I choose to live my life in nursing homes. True, I can only syphon off a few months here and there. Sometimes I can only get a couple weeks at a time, but it all adds up. It’s like living in a buffet, and all of these people are at the end of their lives. I’m not taking anything away that they even want anymore.
There’s still a level of caution that has to be taken. You can’t always tell how far gone someone is just by looking at them. I have a method for determining how much time someone has left. All I have to do is jump in their lap. When I do there’s a certain sound they make that lets me know when they’re ripe. It’s just like thumping a melon in a grocery store. I have to be careful when doing this as to not draw too much attention to myself. I heard one cat that ran the same gig, got noticed by the staff, and gained national attention for being able to predict deaths. Now, instead of being able to live there as long as he wants, his living arrangement has an expiration date.
We didn’t always have to be so secretive; our immortality used to be common knowledge. This is why the Egyptians worshiped us. Unfortunately, they began thinking we could help extend their lives and started shutting us up in their tombs with them. Cut off from any life source, the cat in question would have withered away to a painful husk, dying in a way I don’t care to imagine. Therefore, with thousands of feline deaths, our need for secrecy was born.
Anthony David Lawson is the author of “Novel,” as well as a local playwright, director and actor. He will write a piece of prose presented in parts every other week in encore throughout 2015, entitled “The Nine Lives of Xen.”