Annals of Pard: My Life So Far, by Pard, Part I

My Life So Far, by Pard

Part I

Pard Surveys His Domain

Pard Surveys His Domain

In the first place there were Mother and Sister and me with a mother and an aunty human who had a lot of kittens. Some tom humans came around now and then and either paid no attention to anybody but the queens, or were dangerous to kittens, pretty much like real toms. Mother and Sister and I kept out of their way and had no worries except sometimes the younger kitten humans, who will pull your tail as soon as their eyes are open. And some of the bigger ones played too rough, or tried to hug. Hugging, even when well meant, is horrible.

Life was often quite exciting in the first place, and we were happy together. I am hardly ever sad, but sometimes when I am going to sleep I hear purring around me that is not mine, and it seems that Mother and Sister and I are all curled up like one warm cat. And then I am happier than usual.

The kibbles there were all of one species, but there were plenty of them, except when there weren’t any of them. When the bowl had been empty for a while and then the kibbles were turned loose in it, Sister and I did a lot of growling and shoving to see who could get more first, but it wasn’t serious, it just made hunting and killing the kibbles more exciting.

The humans ate the weird things humans eat. Mother ate some of them too, but when she tried to hunt any of them the mother and aunty and the bigger kittens got all upset and did shouting and swatting and made unpleasantness. I dislike unpleasantness, so I never even tried. Why hunt weird things when you have kibbles? Besides, the humans don’t eat our kibbles, so we don’t eat theirs. Fair is fair. Except for exceptions.

So that was all good, but then came the awfulness. It was confusing and terrible and everything changed all at once, so that I want not to remember it, and have succeeded pretty well. There was the box that smelled of fear, and the roaring moving room-thing, and all the strangenesses, and really I don’t want to think about it or that Mother and Sister and I have not seen each other again.

In the strange place, all the humans were toms and queens and strangers, and there were far too many cats, all strangers. Sometimes I cried and sometimes I got my tail up for a while. None of the humans ever shouted or swatted, and some of them petted. But I mostly remember being in the little room with strange cats in it and with walls I could see through into a lot of other little rooms with see-through walls and cats in them. Cats, and toys, and litter boxes, and climbing places, and hiding boxes.

One of the strangenesses was that I lost my balls there. I had two of them. They were near my tail, not very big, but I liked them. After I woke up in the strange place and they put me in the little room and I was washing, I noticed they were gone. I looked all around for them but they weren’t in the little room. I was too sore and sleepy to worry much about them.

Waterfall

Waterfall

I hid in one of the hiding boxes box most of the time at first, but then I felt better and got bored and came out and investigated the toys. They were good. There was one I could get clear into and crawl through excitingly. The other cats were all right, but strangers. There were always kibbles in the bowl when I felt like hunting, but I didn’t very much. And always water, too, in bowls. In the first place, I had often had to climb up to the water hole and brace myself on the slippery white sides to keep from falling in while I drank, which was exciting, but not very. Here in the second place I never do it any more. There is a water bowl, but I don’t often drink from it these days, because the waterfall happens when I stand on the edge of the sink and request it. Water that doesn’t move isn’t half as good as a waterfall.

Tail Aloft

Tail Aloft

There was so much strangeness in the strange place that when I met the old queen and the younger aunty humans they were just parts of it. But they distinctly had good intentions, and good manners, too, admiring me, holding out their knuckles to me like noses, and making no effort to hug. So I purred loudly and kept my tail so straight up that the end of it fell over onto my back, which pleased them, and there was mutual pleasantness. And so I left there and came here with them.

[To Be Continued]

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About Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is a founding member of Book View Cafe. Her most recent BVC ebook is MY LIFE SO FAR, BY PARD, translated from the Feline by UKL.
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10 Responses to Annals of Pard: My Life So Far, by Pard, Part I

  1. Adam says:

    The relationship my year old niece and their family’s cat has been great fun to observe. Captain has been a terror since the day he came home in a Captain Morgan liquor box. A cat that never accepted petting without a vicious bite yet attached himself to your leg with razor claws the moment your attention left him.

    My niece grabs Captain by the tail, drags him across the floor and pokes him in the eye. She crawls at a sprint, tackling the cat, grabbing two handfuls of fur and rolling the furball at right angles to right angles.

    Captain sits watch every night outside her room. If she wakes and the adult response is not timely enough he goes from room to room waking everyone.

    • Lis Carey says:

      If that’s an accurate description of how your niece treats the cat, how your niece is allowed to treat the cat, that’s appalling. The cat could get badly hurt–and so could your niece, if the cat finally experiences enough pain and fear that he retaliates.

      • Adam says:

        My description is only as accurate as this blog post being written “by Pard.” Do you think a cat really sat down and typed an autobiography and published it to this blog? Clues to issues of seriousness/factuality compared to sincerity/ingenuousness could be my stating “rolling the furball at right angles to right angles.” If my niece could pull this off such would be a story that would probably require a collaboration of Mrs. LeGuin and Stephen Baxter to describe the subject of a cat with the physics involved.

        Or the simpler story (not necessarily for simpler readers):
        An unfriendly cat lives in the household of my young niece. My niece is still learning appropriate behavior for interacting with pets. The generally unfriendly cat shows greater patience and more affection for my young niece who may make mistakes when playing with the cat than the cat has ever shown to any other person. In fact, the cat is very protective of my niece.

    • John says:

      Ha! I’m told I behaved the same way to our cat when I was a toddler – dragging him down the hall by his tail – and he loved me. On the other hand, he would wait on the mantle to jump down and attack my well-behaved, older brother.

      • John says:

        And BTW, I’m sure I wasn’t “allowed” to behave this way, I’m sure corrective action was taken .

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  3. Will says:

    First, this is a true delight.

    Second, as a public service announcement regarding “water that doesn’t move,” I had no idea (despite growing with lots of cats) up how weird cats could be about water until we had one who wouldn’t drink enough water and a vet finally asked us if her water bowl was near her food dish. We were skeptical, but when we moved it into another room, the change was instantaneous. Some people speculate that it has to do with wild cat behavior in terms of caching food, but I like to think it’s just another way of confusing us big dumb cats. I’ve heard of people who have to leave a faucet open very slightly.

    Finally, “mutual pleasantness” sounds like a whole philosophy in two words, and I love it. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  4. Crowgirl says:

    Oh, my heart is just melting…and there’s something in my eye, I think. What a sweet glimpse into the mind and heart of your friend.

    Side note, I’ve taken to referring to our cats as our commensals, like the Kesh do.

  5. Hekate says:

    Since I am allergic to cats (and lots of other stuff–sent to the wrong planet, doncha know) Pard’s column is quite nourishing. Not perhaps as good as kibbles, but delicious. Hurray for Captain, too. Thanks, guys.

  6. Cat Mihos says:

    “…got all upset and did shouting and swatting and made unpleasantness. I dislike unpleasantness, so I never even tried.”
    may we all have this dislike for unpleasantness, a truly wonderful insider look at the feline credo!