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

My Life So Far by Pard

Part II

[Continued from Part I]

Photo by Moe Bowstern

Photo by Moe Bowstern

I cried very loudly in the roaring moving room-thing on the way here, because I thought the awfulness and strangeness was all happening over again forever. I still always think that when they put me in the box that smells of fear and the roaring moving room-thing. But except for that I have hardly cried at all since coming here.

The aunty human went away and left me with the old queen and an old tom. I was distrustful of him at first, but my fears were groundless. When he sits down he has an excellent thing, a lap. Other humans have them, but his is mine. It is full of quietness and fondness. The old queen sometimes pats hers and says prrt? and I know perfectly well what she means; but I only use one lap, his. What I like to use about her is the place behind her knees on the bed, and the top of her head, which having a kind of fur reminds me a little of my Mother, so sometimes I get on the pillow with it and knead it. This works best when she is asleep.

The kibbles here are of different species and varying quality. They are let loose from their boxes and bags into my bowl twice a day at the appointed time. Most of them are good, but the small dark kind taste rather nasty and I don’t hunt them down till I really need them. Recently a large new breed appeared that taste excellent, almost as good as greenies.

No other kibble is as good as a greeny. And greenies often fly – the old tom and queen see to it that they do – and I chase them across the floor, and pursue them under things, and knock them right out of the air. Hunting is very exciting and satisfactory, especially when the prey moves.

When I first came here I was barely out of kittenhood and constantly in search of excitement. Here and there, though never in my bowl, I found what I thought was a lively kind of kibble, running around, hiding under things, even flying sometimes. I hunted them for quite a while and caught a great many, but they never did taste very good. I gave up hunting them at last, admitting that beetles are an inferior form of kibble. Still, it was fun to hunt them.

It is not fun to hunt mice. It is exciting in an intense, terrible way. If there is a mouse, I cannot think of anything else. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat kibbles. I can only smell and hear and think of mouse. I don’t understand this, and it makes me unhappy. But when the mouse comes out of hiding I have to hunt it and catch it. I always catch it. And then what? It isn’t a kibble, it isn’t to eat. It’s much bigger, and furry, who wants to eat a huge fur-coated kibble? It is a wonderful toy while it plays, but after a while it begins to run down and stops moving. So I bring it to the old queen, who is good with toys and makes them move. But if it is a mouse, she leaps up and does shouting and hurls the mouse off the bed, and there is great unpleasantness.

All the same, much as I dislike unpleasantness, I cannot leave the mouse. Usually it begins moving again, and sometimes even gets away and escapes into the outside, but not often. When it runs down altogether it is taken away. Then I can sleep and be happy.

The outside is somewhat like mice: it is too exciting. It makes anxiety. I want to go there and then when I am there I want to come inside again. I am used to walls. Walls are good, they limit things. There is no limit to the outside. It is crowded with endless things and beings, pathways and pathlessnesses, movements, sounds, tiny noises in the earth and behind every leaf, huge bangs and clamor from where the roaring things rush by and the terrible dogs pull their humans along by straps and nothing makes sense. But then, it is all exciting. There are the green leaves to eat, and then come in and throw them up on the rug. There are the beings that fly, not only little ones like beetles but ones the size of mice and even bigger. When I see them I say something to them I never say to anybody else, a kind of little clicking. I know they are to hunt. How could I catch a flying kibble bigger than a mouse, and what would I do with it if I caught it? But still when I see one, even through the window, I crouch to spring and whisper k-k-k-k-k-k-k to lure it closer.

The outside is puzzling

The outside is puzzling

It is very puzzling, the outside, and very dangerous. I know that, and mostly I stay in sight of the old queen or tom, and always I know the quickest path straight back to the door, my door, into my walls, into my place.

But there are the smells outside, the endless, rich, piercing, mysterious smells, and I want to go back out, and smell each leaf and stick and track for a long time, and walk on the strange paths of dirt and grass, in the danger.

Yet while I am there I want to be back inside with the old slow tom and queen, where things happen slowly and when they should happen and the kibbles are in the bowl morning and evening, where I can lie in the sun and look through the window at the outside without being in its danger, or curl up on the tom’s lap or the queen’s head and hear the purring and be happy.

There is so much mystery always that adding all the outside to it is too much for me.

Inside, I am troubled only when the old tom and queen go away for a long time, which they don’t do often any more, but when they do some of the strangeness gets into the house, the kibbles become irregular, and I am not at peace.

And my peace is disturbed when the young queens come to make the noise machine go on the floors. The anxiety of the horrible roaring noise drives me to do foolish things like trying to hide behind the thing the old queen always sits in front of staring at instead of paying attention to me. I am not supposed to go behind it, and unpleasantness occurs when I insist on doing so. Perhaps the unpleasantness of the noise machines drives me to make more unpleasantness. I don’t know. Sometimes I decide to go behind the thing simply because as I lie on the desk beside her in peaceful companionship, I get bored with her staring at it and ignoring me, and know I can change that by going where I am not to go.

Recently when I did that and wouldn’t stop doing it we both got so upset that the old queen did shouting, swatted me, and pulled my tail, and I actually glared and cursed her.

Soon after, she apologised and made amends. I did not. Cats have no amends to make. But we were both relieved that the unpleasantness was ended.

Quite satisfactory

Quite satisfactory

Since then, when I start to go around behind the thing she stares at, instead of attempting to exert domination and causing anxiety to us both she begins to scratch my jowls and chin most irresistibly. So I stop where I am and do not resist the irresistibility, and as she finds this irresistible too, there is pleasantness and good feeling. I just started around behind a minute ago, but settled down for a thorough jowl-rub on both sides while warmth and good feelings were exchanged.

She’s staring at the thing again now, only glancing at me now and then to pet my head and neck, but I can hear the old tom down in the kitchen and know that the kibbles of the evening will soon be in the bowl. I can wait. I have things running quite satisfactorily in this place, my place.

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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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8 Responses to Annals of Pard: My Life So Far, by Pard, Part II

  1. Eileen Gunn says:

    I fear that I am beginning to feel about politics the way Pard feels about mice. I will take this to heart. Thanks, Ursula!

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  3. Eve Adams says:

    I love the idea that they perceive a purring in us we don’t. And that “cats have no amends to make!” This is so lovely. Thank you.

  4. Max M. Fuhlendorf says:

    Excellent as ALWAYS!
    And as for cats and the Great Outdoors, Simon’s Cat was seemingly inspired by Pard:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7sggjEBnZg

  5. H M says:

    Cool. Ms Le Guin has always been a terrific writer, cats and her, what an excellent story.

  6. Crowgirl says:

    *purrrrrrrrr*

  7. Sara says:

    best thing I’ve read in a long while, and I just finished rereading The Riddlemaster of Hed!

  8. lyn says:

    =^-^=
    really enjoy reading about Pard! thanks for posting his photos, Pard is such a cutie 🙂