Monday, October 20, 2008

Humor Me: Where's the actual cat?

By MATT WIXON

While walking my dogs around the neighborhood a while back, I saw a flyer for a lost cat. It looked like a typical flyer, looking for a typical cat with a typical name. I’ve changed the name to protect the innocent, but I’ll call the cat “Fluffy.”

I thought that Fluffy was part of a typical flyer. But as I looked closer, I noticed that under a huge photo of a cat, which I presumed to be Fluffy, were these words:

NOT ACTUAL CAT

The disturbing flyer brought up a couple of questions:

1. How dumb does Fluffy’s owner think we are? OK, so there wasn’t a photo of Fluffy available when he/she/it skedaddled out the door. But did Fluffy’s pursuer need to include a generic photo of such an exotic animal? (I would think not, but just in case, I included a photo of a cat. But it's not the actual cat that is "not actual cat" in the flyer.)

Anyway, how many people in the cat-fancied Dallas area, let alone planet Earth, are not familiar with a cat?

Cat? What’s a cat? If you were talking about a Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat or maybe a Golden-rumped Lion Tamarin, well then maybe I would have an idea what to look for. But what is this “cat” you speak of?

On to the second question. But before I do that, I should point out that I do have a warm heart for people who lose their pets and for animals in general. I felt really bad a few years ago when I saw a flyer for "Lost Bird." What are the chances that pet was ever found?

On to question No. 2:

What if Fluffy is not really lost? What if Fluffy, lured by dreams beyond his/her/its owner’s front door, is intentionally avoiding capture?

Obviously a solo career is no more advisable for a cat than it was for Van Halen’s David Lee Roth. The odds are really against you out there, whether you’re a domesticated cat or a temperamental vocalist with teased hair and a spandex-heavy wardrobe. (OK, so Diamond Dave did have some success as a solo artist. Maybe a domesticated cat's chances of survival should be compared to Roth's national radio show, which I believe lasted about three minutes.)

I guess Fluffy’s owners do deserve a little credit. They did go through the trouble of posting a flyer on the streetlight in front of my house, so that says something. But the lack of an actual photo of Fluffy says something, too. Most important, maybe it said something to Fluffy about his/her/its place in the world.

So thinking from a cat’s perspective, which is one of the myriad skills I learned during my years of journalism training, I can see at least one reason why Fluffy might have made a break for it:

OK, so I’m not the most photogenic cat in the world. And the time I spend cleaning myself, rubbing against legs and coughing up hairballs – well, those aren’t exactly Kodak moments. But after all of these years of chasing away mice, properly using the litter box and fighting my feline impulses to shred the drapes, couldn’t they have taken one dang photo of me? I mean, what if someone steals me? What if I get lost? Not one photo of me ever … I guess that means they won’t miss me when I’m gone.


That’s why I believe it’s possible that Fluffy is trying his/her/its paw at the single life. Just packed up the mouse toy, took a little catnip, and hit the streets.

But I hope that’s not the case. I hope someone found Fluffy or he/she/it decided to meander back home. I hope that there was a tremendous homecoming in which Fluffy was welcomed with open arms, cat toys and a new scratching post.

And I really hope someone took an ACTUAL picture of the celebration.

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