Al Batt: Don’t forget to unplug the cat before bed

Published 8:57 pm Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt


Mind your biscuits and everything will be gravy.

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One of those biscuits for me is being active in the community. Attending things.

I was having a striking good time at a happy gathering, a wedding anniversary. We’d visited freely, exhausting the subject of weather, having determined that complaining about weather was like complaining about breathing. We talked of the past and of the future.

The Aymara, a South American Indian people inhabiting parts of the highland of Bolivia and Peru, call the future back or behind time, and the past front time. They gesture ahead when remembering the past and motion backward when pondering the future. Aymaras believe that what is known is what you see in front of you, with your own eyes. The past is known, so it lies ahead. The future is unknown, so it lies behind. We looked both ways.

There was some good natured ribbing, such as “You’re moving as slowly as a nudist climbing over a barbed wire fence.”

Then I heard something I’d never heard before.

“I had to buy a new cat heater.”

That’s what I thought I heard a friend say. Perhaps my ears were up to some trickery. Ears become mischievous with age. I watched his lips move as he said, “I had to buy a new cat heater.” That means I heard him with my own ears and I heard him with my own eyes, but I still doubted if that was what he’d said.

I thought perhaps he was being familiar with a catalytic heater, a heater which relies on the process of breaking down complex molecules by accelerating chemical reactions to produce heat. Space heaters and hand warmers came to my mind.

Cat heater? What in the world is that? I’d seen a cat driving a Harley-Davidson once. It was what a fluffy, white cloud looked like to me. Or maybe it was a Fluffy white cloud? But a cat heater? My mind entertained thoughts of a block heater. A block heater is an automobile engine-heating device designed to warm an engine prior to starting. The purpose of a block heater is to make starting an engine easier, preheat the engine’s oil, warm other relevant fluids and internal engine components, reduce wear and tear, and trim emissions, while allowing the automobile’s heater to blow hot air sooner. It reduces a car’s mood swings.

The cartoon over my head pictured a poor winter-starting cat plugged into an electrical outlet. A cat heater would preheat the cat’s engine oil, warm other relevant fluids and internal engine components, reduce wear and tear, trim emissions and allow the kitty to blow hot air sooner.

A cat heater turned out to be a feline frostbite forbidder. It’s a heating pad that fits into a cat’s bed to keep the tabby toasty. I wanted to ask how many pillows a cat bed had or if the Felis domesticus preferred a My Pillow, but I swallowed those impulses.

A cousin told me that she’d received a $938 vet bill for her beloved cat. I thought of what my father, the agricultural engineer, would have done had he been presented with such a bill. I believe there would have been a cat funeral looming on the horizon. Dad’s reasoning would have been that he could always get another cat. He couldn’t always find another $938.

My wife and I are owned by a cat. Her name is Purl and she is tethered to the inside of our residence. Her paws experience floors, not ground. I’ll say this about Purl: She is a cat. When I’d become nothing but sharp edges due to an illness and was skinny enough that if I turned sideways, I’d have been marked absent; Purl was a friendly (in a grumpy sort of way), somewhat haughty, soft and warm side pillow. She was another kind of cat heater. I appreciated her warmth.

The curious thing about cats is that they are curious about everything except what I want them to be curious about. Things like cat toys. Arnold Edinborough said, “Curiosity is the very basis of education, and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.”

Curiously, Arnold said that to a cat that wasn’t listening.

Cats may not be the best listeners, but they know what they want — food, something that will make them purr and a reliable cat heater.

I never want to retire, because cats have demonstrated that doing nothing is exhausting.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.