I was sitting at my laptop, enjoying some nice old jazz when there came a noise from below me that sounded a bit like someone gargling while yowling in pain. I looked to my feet to see Autumn standing next to me, head back and mouth open emitting such a caterwauling that it nearly drowned out Miles Davis’s trumpet.
“Autumn!” I yelled, trying to be heard over her cries, “What are you doing?”
Smiling up at me she replied, “I’m singing!”
I made a face.
“Well please stop!” I begged. “It’s awful.”
Her face dropped and she stared at me with her big cat eyes.
“You… you don’t like my singing?” she asked, surprised.
Realizing I’d hurt her feelings, I immediately regretted my strong rebuff of her vocal talents.
“I just meant… uh…” I stammered, trying to figure out how to backpedal to a safer place.
“No, no, I get it,” she said, clearly crestfallen.
“I didn’t really mean it was awful,” I said, hoping to mitigate the damage. Cats are sensitive creatures and their egos are easily bruised.
“Of course you did,” she replied, a defiant tone in her voice. “It’s to be expected, I guess, considering the awful stuff you listen to.”
“What awful stuff?” I asked, my own ego chaffing just a bit.
“Really?” she asked, glaring at me accusingly. “All that ‘BLAH BLAH BLAH’ noise you play.” She made her voice sound deep and scratchy on the “BLAH BLAH BLAH”.
“Ok, fine, you don’t like Heavy Metal. But that’s not all I play.”
“Cats are known for their beautiful singing voices,” she sniffed haughtily. “My cousin Freckles used to serenade her neighborhood every night and people would toss gifts to her while she sang, in appreciation for her talent.”
“Um…” I began, ready to explain that folks may not have been throwing things in appreciation, but Autumn cut me off.
“And those pyramid people loved us too. They built shrines to us. I saw a picture of a big stone cat lying near a pyramid. They had the face all wrong though,” she said, shaking her head.
“How do you know the Egyptians liked hearing cats sing?” I asked. “That was thousands of years ago.”
“Were you there?” she snapped back.
“Well no, but then neither were…”
“That’s right. You weren’t. You don’t know.” she snipped.
“Ok, ok, fine. Egyptians loved cat singing,” I yielded.
“Maybe,” she began, “You should just learn to appreciate what good music sounds like.”
She stared up at me, waiting.
“Right,” I said at last with a sigh. “Forgive my ignorance. Please… continue with your singing.”
I forced the last words through gritted teeth.
“Really?” Autumn squealed. “That’s more like it!”
With that she opened her mouth and started to accompany the music with a noise that made me wonder if long term exposure might cause brain damage.
I wondered (and not for the last time) if owning cats was karmic payment for crimes of a former lifetime.