Good People of the Rookie,
When my caretaker’s sister, Pixie, asked me to write an article for your website publication, I was hesitant to do so, being that I am a cat, and I have other priorities in my life, like sleeping, eating, and frightening local passersby by staring at them intently through the picture window. But when I was promised that my photograph would accompany this article, I complied. Who am I to deny the world my beauty? I even put on my best bitchface, which is, truth be told, my default expression.
I speak to you as a common (yet gorgeous, no?) cat. I’m not a celebrity; I’m no Garfield, dining on lasagna every day (which, note to Mr. Garfield, can’t be healthy long-term; consider broadening your palate). I live a relatively simple life, with simple pleasures: a warm bed, a full dish, and a litter box that smells as fresh as the newly cleaned black sweaters I enjoy shedding all over. But I do consider myself a cat of class and taste, and though I enjoy some occasional tomfoolery with a fabric mouse or a bit of string, there is only one thing that brings out the true animal in me—a diversion so wonderful that it drives me mad with happiness, a pastime that I consider to be Literally the Best Thing Ever: the stuff that covers the other stuff when the big outside tree somehow appears inside the house. Your kind, I believe, refers to this as Christmas wrapping.
Oh, “Christmas wrapping”! What a dream when you arrive in our home! The glorious paper! The ribbons and bows! The tissue paper! The temporary housing provided by boxes! Once a year you show up in my life, taunting me from beneath the tree, covering the boring objects that humans seem to hanker for. I wait for weeks, crouched beside you, for that magnificent morning when the foolish humans rip you away from their worthless prizes and carelessly toss you to the floor, where we meet in a beautiful riot of crunching and crinkling.
I tear at you with my paws. I roll around on you, mesmerized by your smooth yet soft yet crumply texture. When the humans scrunch you into balls and toss you across the room, I give chase, giddy with excitement. And when they attempt to “clean up” by sweeping you away like so much garbage, I sit on you and refuse to move. For I know that you, dear paper, are the true prize. You are an amusement park of art, a Christmas miracle, a holiday bounty beyond the wildest of dreams!
I cannot save you, for I am no match for a giant who can simply reach out a hand and lift my entire body into the air as easily as they lift those cozy laundry baskets filled with clean, warm towels before I get a chance to bless those linens by squirming about in their nest, leaving behind mounds of luxurious hair. But all is not lost! After you’ve been stuffed into trash bags and whisked away, there are still the ribbons and bows, waiting to be torn to shreds and proudly carried about. They’re a bit like string, only much fancier, and much easier to pulverize. Occasionally, if a bow is fancy enough, I’ll allow it to be placed gently on my head, a suitable crown for a king. And when the crown falls off, I will shred it with my claws or attempt to eat it, until it is taken away for safety purposes. Farewell, dear bow! I shall miss your decorative appeal and waxy aftertaste!
And finally, when the bows’ tattered remains have been removed, there is yet one more treasure in which to literally wallow: the empty boxes. Oh, darling dens! You provide a comfortable seat, a playpen, and an object to flip over and bat around for hours at a time. Most important, you serve as perfectly cat-size beds in which to nestle, to rest, to float to the Cat Land of Nod, where one can dream of wondrous things like castles made of scratching posts, where I and the princess in those Fancy Feast commercials (She only eats from crystal goblets! What class! What grace!) rule over a kingdom where baths are outlawed; and of course my ultimate dream of eventual world dominati—I mean, of snuggling up on blankets and being a good kitty forevermore.
I am of course a loved cat, so my humans give me little odds and ends of my own at Christmas—a bit of ’nip, a few toys, perhaps a new collar. And every year, as they watch me tear into the paper, the bows, the tissue and string that once enveloped these store-bought geegaws, my humans marvel, “We should have just given him an empty box!” Yes, humans. Yes. You have noticed a pattern; perhaps take your own suggestion next year. Christmas wrapping is better than anything on earth. It is, indeed, the best. My brother, Bernie, agrees, though when asked to comment for this piece, he hopped up on the sofa and promptly fell asleep, as he is wont to do. I will say on his behalf that decorative Christmas bags are also a treat, especially when filled with crispy pieces of tissue paper. One can walk inside of a bag and feel as if he’s been transported to another world! They are also quite lovely for napping purposes. Like sleeping on a very loud cloud.
And so in conclusion, good people of the Rookie, I ask that this holiday season, as you sit around and celebrate whatever it is that you are celebrating, please consider the needs and dreams of the cat in your life. We do not need much: just love, constant adoration, 13 hours of sleep per day, compliments at all times, quality ’nip, and a chance to share in the holiday spirit by ripping the dickens out of your discarded wrapping paper and temporarily losing our minds over tissue, bows, and the allure of the dream machine known as the cardboard box. (And perhaps a playdate with the goddess of the Fancy Feast commercials, if possible. She has inspired at least 18 of my as-yet-unpublished sonnets.)
I hope all of your holiday dreams come true. May the New Year bring us love, laughter, and the abolition of baths for cats. In the words of the great cat poet, William Purrsworth: “Meow meow, meow / Meow meow meow / Purr, rawr, meow / Meow mew, rawr, purr / The winter may be bleak / But our hearts and blankets shall keep us warm ’til spring / Meow.”
Murphy Hill, a cat