Don’t Teach Cats Latin
By John Cox
Day 46 (In
The cats are not
picking up the Latin as quickly as I had hoped.
Their Spanish is
coming along. Although, they seem to be stuck on the word, “comer.” It doesn’t
help that their Southern American accent makes it sound like they are saying
“come here!”” Come here, feed me,” it’s what I hear all day. I am uncertain of
the outcome if someday I fail to meet this demand.
The dog seems
unnerved by the feline use of language.
They call his name
from dark places about the apartment at night and then remain silent leaving
one to wonder if they really said anything at all.
My dog has had
lessons too, of course, but seems preoccupied with the attention I am giving
and never really commits himself to the task.
It seems I
underestimated the canine’s comprehension.
When the time came
that I had no more food to give the cats they called, “Comer, Comer”
continually for three days and then went quiet.
Other cats, I did
not know, started showing up and positioned themselves in high places
throughout the apartment. They were ragged. Many had small injuries and were covered
in some dark sticky substance.
Did they get into
some strawberry jam? I didn’t have any but maybe they were my neighbor’s cats
where some strawberry jam looking substance was a regular snack.
Then I realized
what was so disquieting about their appearance.
Grimalkin do not
remain dirty. They also do not stare unwavering at you for extended periods of
time. And for that matter strange felines are not accepted by the resident
Why did not my
cats protest their appearance?
As I said earlier,
I think I underestimated my dogs understanding. He had taken to hiding under
the couch and twitching his tail nervously.
I knew I had sold
him short when he blurted out “Run!” while making for the front door.
He must have
trusted me to do so because he could not open the door when he got there. I did
not disappoint him. I was right on his tail so to speak.
The visitors up
high held their place but some of the others, my cats, approached us as we got
to the door.
“Quo Vadis,” my
tabby Coolio spoke in smooth almost perfect Latin.
The meaning of
which is roughly, “Where are you going?”
possibly more disturbing action the cats were taking this one really creeped me
out. It makes me wonder, how smart are they really?
I find myself
stammering, “uh, you know, out.”
stares at me but the others move around to get between us and the door. My dog
whimpers but holds his tongue, metaphorically that is, on account that it would
be quite some feat to do physically.
They are just
cats, I almost say aloud, but stop myself to hide what little I can from the
felines before me, and behind me for that matter.
We can take them I
think, referring to the little wolf descendant and myself. Dogs can beat cats
in a fight, right? That at least used to be true.
My mind is fuzzy
and I am not sure I am thinking all that straight. How long has it been since I
have eaten, days at very least, a couple of weeks? I don’t know.
The dog hasn’t
eaten either but he does little to complain.
Anyway, I'm sure
you realize we lived through this encounter by now as I would have had little
time to write this while it was happening.
assurance than I felt I stood up straighter, put my hands on my hips and said
in as stern a voice as I could muster given the circumstance, “Just what do you
think you are doing?”
Coolio seemed to
be leading this group so I was addressing myself to him.
He stared at me.
He looked so
normal then one paw raised slightly as though I was holding one of his toys and
he wanted to play.
I was wrong.
When his paw came
back down the others pounced.
I had three cats
immediately upon my back digging and biting as deep and fierce as they could. I
was in shock for a few seconds so great was their furry.
I don’t think
people ever feel the full wrath of a domestic mouser.
Playful bites and
even angry bites do not do their full might any justice.
My poor dog Rufus
was squealing in pain and terror running full speed into the wall, door and
armchair that sticks out a little from the Livingroom. My focus was on him now.
I had to save him, so I ignored the cats doing their best to rip me limb from
limb and grabbed Rufus by the scruff of the neck.
This I did because
it is the only way I knew to bring him to a complete stop in time to exit the
apartment with me.
I opened the door
and threw him into the hallway beyond.
Two gib still
clung to him but once he was out of the house, he regained a bit of his wits
and flung them off. They circled him slowly now waiting for an opening. I tried
to get the cats on me off before exiting but they were dug in deep and not
I exited and
slammed the door shut behind me. I felt that I should lock the door but the
pain in my back was maddening.
I dropped backward
on the concrete outside my apartment and began steamrolling back and forth in
an effort to shake them.
The cats were
being crushed as I rolled and soon let go.
Rufus looked at
me; we were surrounded.
He might be able
to outrun them, but I could not. I felt like he knew this, though I have no way
to prove it. He stayed with me none-the-less.
I spoke to the
cats promising them fish and chicken if they would just let us go.
Some silent order
to stand down must have slipped my notice because they calmed down and began licking
our blood off their fur. I could think it had to do with my promises but
somehow, I knew that was not the case.
I felt a presence
watching me and turned to look in the window. My Persian cat Lily sat frozen on
It was clear now
she was in charge.
I spoke to her
without looking at her keeping my eyes on the ones still surrounding me and
Rufus. “I am going to leave now. I will be back with food, I promise.”
I had no way of
knowing if I could acquire any food. The shops had all shut down two weeks ago
and the delivery services were suspended until the ban on outside travel could
I got no answer,
but she jumped down from the sill and disappeared into the apartment.
All the cats
around us departed at that exact moment.
All but Coolio who
stared expectantly at me.
They had made
their point. They would get food, or I would be their food. Coolio followed us
everywhere we went.
I broke into a
small local grocery store and finally found some canned goods.
I am living back
in my apartment and venture out now and again to bring back food and supplies.
I have 14 cats now
and one dog.
intruders arrive every day and I don’t know how much longer I can keep them
Police are about
with strict orders to return anyone they see back to their homes. The news says
food and supplies are being distributed to all the homes in the area, but I
have yet to see any.
I think many of my
neighbors are dead. I think this because all the new animals that arrive at my
apartment are always covered in what I now know is blood.
Rufus is getting
It is difficult to
feed him because the cats do not see him as essential and take any food, I try
to give him. I try to explain that he is an essential worker for our cause. I
explain that his nose helps me find food, but they do not care to listen.
The store I am
robbing will soon be out of anything edible.
I can find nothing
I have grown weak
with hunger. Rufus has succumbed to his malnutrition and an infection that I
didn’t know how to stop.
They ate him and I
couldn’t stop them.
I am just laying
These will likely
be the last words that I write. I say to anyone reading this, cats ARE as smart
as you think they are.
Do not be naïve,
and do NOT teach them Latin.
Cox lives with his wife of 20 plus years, mother-in-law,
two boys, two dogs, and one shy lizard. He homeschools his boys and writes when
he can. He hopes to be an author when he grows up.