The Rear End

THE REAR END: Cat-a-Cat-Cat

I know you didn’t ask, but let’s get to know my cats

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Eva Paulus |

We feed our cats good cat food. I mean, I have no idea how it tastes, but I know how much it costs, so I assume it tastes pretty fantastic. It better. Because if it doesn’t taste amazing, what the hell are we paying for?

Their health? Yeah, I suppose so. I’d like them to be happy and healthy.

But also, their fur. The cat food we buy seems to give their fur a luxurious softness. And I assume the cats enjoy that. They’ve never complained about it. I don’t speak cat, but I’ve never seen them act all mopey because their fur is too soft.

But sometimes I stare off into the corner of the room and wonder if this gorgeous hair is natural. Like, if our cats were roaming the forest – far from civilization and warm beds and litter boxes – would they grow fur this soft? Out there in the wild world of feline survival, is there an evolutionary advantage to having your body covered in sumptuous fluff? Or is it better for cats to have oily fur with rough, dry patches?

We just don’t know.

Well, I don’t know. I’m sure all you cat scientists out there can answer my burning cat questions.  And since I’ve got your attention, allow me to ask a few more.

We have two cats. To me, these are the “new” cats. Our old cats died a while back. We’ve had the new versions for about five years. But about once a week, I’ll call a new cat by an old cat’s name. Does this hurt their feelings? Are they distraught, always living in the shadow of their deceased predecessors?

Also: Do cats have feelings?

Do they feel love and hate? Do they get depressed? Defensive? Up in their little cat heads, do they have imaginary arguments with my wife? Do they resent me for not trying hard enough to be a good human? Do they yearn to feel validated for their accomplishments?

Do cats have feelings? Do they feel love and hate? Do they get depressed? Defensive? Up in their little cat heads, do they have imaginary arguments with my wife?


I guess these are questions for a cat psychologist.

But like, where do they think their poop goes? From their furry perspective, they bury the poop and before long, it just straight up vanishes. Do they know it’s me? Do they realize that when they aren’t around, it’s me who steals their poop? And if so, what do they think I’m doing with it?

They must assume I love their poop because I harvest it twice daily. And maybe they see it as payment for all the delicious cat food we buy for them.

We have an orange boy cat and a dark grey girl cat. As far as I know, they’ve lived their entire lives here in the Chippewa Valley, mostly at our house. Our house is their whole world. By now, you’d think they’d be pretty bored, but since most cats always look bored, it’s hard to tell.

They purr a lot, so I think we’re all good.

Like many cats, the orange boy cat is obsessed with eating. We feed the cats via robots. The robots dispense a small amount of food three times a day. We fed the old cats only once a day, dumping out a pile upon which they periodically grazed. But if we put a big bowl of food in front of the orange boy cat, he’d eat until he a) threw up or b) exploded.

Anyway, the orange cat uses his keen animal instincts to sense when the robots are about to release their life-giving morsels. He’s very good at this. How good? He can sense meal time hours before it happens. We know this because he sits a few feet from his bowl and meows. Constantly. For hours.

He’s truly a hairy genius.

The dark grey cat is far more laid back than her hefty, orange counterpart. We think she’s pretty embarrassed about his food obsession. To make up for it, sometimes she leaves a precious little turd right in the middle of the kitchen floor – a kind offering to her human roommates.

And that’s cats for you.