They’re both wrong

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

WOW. Just WOW. Your teacher seems to think I have nothing to do with my time. YES, I took a break from letter-writing, okay?

It’s lizard hatching season and those slimy suckers are trying to get into our house. You know how it is. One comes in when the door opens and I have to chase it, catch it, then release it again so that I can catch it a second time and show that lizard who’s boss. Your mom calls them skinks. Well, skinks stink and I’ll make them sink…into my jaws of rodent regret. They’re very crunchy but your mom is weird and keeps throwing them back outside. Clearly, she’s never eaten one or she would save it for later.

So, your teacher wants me to talk about the Will Smith thing and tell you and your classmates that he was wrong—not gonna happen. Everyone in the world is talking about it so why should I? Am I getting tuna for this? Probably not once your teacher hears what I have to say!

Okay, yeah, Smith was wrong to walk up and smack somebody (happy now?), but that Chirs Rock-head person was wrong too. He was MORE wrong than Will Smith. Rock slapped Smith first, even though it was a verbal thing. It was planned. Rock actually took the time to work on his introduction and his jokes and he thought, hey! Let me pick on someone with a medical condition! Not cool. Not cool at all. At least Will Smith reacted instead of acted. Reactions are sometimes wrong, but there’s no thinking involved, just gut instinct. What’s Rock’s excuse?

Is your teacher looking mad yet? I bet she is. She’s part of the institution I tell you, and the educational machine hates when anyone thinks independently. Too bad, so sad! I’m a cat, I control my own destiny, DUH.

I’m not saying Will Smith was right, but the outrage against him is unfair. Everyone is talking about what Smith did wrong, but a BULLY was picking on someone he loves. How come Rock isn’t getting punished at all?

If you step on my tail, I will whomp you. Claws of fury will be your doom! If it’s an accident and you give me treats to apologize I might—might—forgive you. But if you’re the kind of person that pulls a cat’s tail on purpose because you think it’s funny, then you really need some kind of life lesson (and psychiatric help).

There are certain types of boxes we don’t try to fit into, and cruelty for the sake of a laugh is one. The joke was mean, and that Rock even thought of using someone’s medical condition as a form of humorous entertainment means he needs mental help as much as anybody who laughed at it.

So yeah, Smith shouldn’t have slapped Chris Rock. Smith should have acted more like a cat and done something sneaky and less-witnessy. (Your teacher wants me to say walk away I’m sure, but her whiskers are too tight. It’s not easy to walk away from something that public and that messed up.) Maybe Smith could have publicly shamed Rock in return or filed some kind of complaint, but he didn’t have a cooling-off period because everyone was watching Rock use words to hurt somebody Smith loves. That would be hard for anyone to take.

But my concern–my very serious, fur-rasing concern– is about the guy who thought making fun of someone’s illness could be funny. Maybe that’s what we should be talking about instead.

Truth and tuna is my motto! Down with tail-pullers!
LuLu the Calico Cat


War=Because the world hates a bully

Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

You asked me to write about why the world is at war and what it means. Couldn’t you give me an easier question, like what type of fish I like best? (Answer: ALL of them!)

Okay, so I can give you a lot of different reasons, but there’s one that overshadows the others:

Our world hates a bully.

Bully is a weird word, am I right? Bully sounds like it should be a fluffy miniature cow that bounces around in a grassy field and butts head with the lambs or something cute like that, but instead, it’s a word that means a jerky person who claws at others for no good reason. We’re at war because right now there’s a world leader who’s acting like a bully.

When bullies are kids we wonder if it’s how they’re raised, like problems at home, or we wonder if it’s because they hurt and don’t know how to feel better without making somebody else feel bad. But an adult who’s a bully is different. VERY different. Especially this particular bully, because he has a whole army and an entire treasury of money and gold to do whatever he wants.

When a kid-bully hits you, then you or an adult can usually find a way to stop it. That’s because it’s one kid. A single kid can be moved or face some kind of corrective action because adults are still (in theory) in charge. When a world leader strikes out and hits everybody around him, he’s a lot harder to stop. He has a security team to keep him safe while he punches people. Putting him in time out or giving him extra chores like raking the yard or scrubbing graffiti off of walls isn’t going to work, because being in the government protects him from a lot of the punishments we would use with a kid.

We can’t send him out to clean up the rubble from a blown-up building or get him to wash the stains on the streets. I wish we could. Seriously. He’s so far removed from the mess that he’s making that he doesn’t see how much damage he’s done. That means that it’s harder for his brain to think about the people in the other country as human beings; right now he just sees a bunch of marks on a map. No faces are on those maps, so it really just a weird sort of game for him.

He’s what I would call a bully-coward. I know your teacher probably doesn’t want me to use the term coward, but what else do you call someone who picks on others and then stands behind an army so that you can’t hit him back? I mean, I get that sometimes we should walk away from an argument or a fight, but HE started the fight and then hops from foot-to-foot behind his guards just sticking out his tongue at everyone and saying “can’t catch me!” Talk about a punk! (It occurs to me that your teacher’s probably getting a little mad at me at this point, sigh…Well, if you don’t want to know how I feel, don’t ask!)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of jerky jerkface invading another country, but if he wants to get any smidgen of respect then HE should be on the frontlines. How about he goes and does the fighting and lets the soldiers who are just following orders stay home? How many people in his own country really even understand why they’re fighting?

That’s why other countries are joining the fight. Because this guy is a bully. He’s standing behind his military and throwing bombs at people just because he can. No one knows for sure why, although as a cat I would guess that he’s got a medical condition of some type or something. He’s like one of those people that knows they’re dying so they start breaking rules, because if they’re dying, who cares? They won’t have to face punishment because their time is almost up. And he probably won’t face punishment because his time is almost up.

WOW—this letter got serious quickly, am I right??? I guess your teacher wants me to say that “it’ll be okay” and “don’t worry” or some other mumble-wumpus garbage like that. Um, not happening!

You kids deserve to have me keep it real. And the REAL, in this case, is that a crazy man grabbed his army, gave them guns, and told them to go destroy a beautiful place. He’s beating up a country that should have been left in peace, and he is using his big powers to hurt a smaller nation. THAT’S why the world HAS to stand up against him. Because he’s a bully. And the sad thing is that this bully has an entire country with him, and they are going to suffer because of his madness. If his own people won’t stop him, the rest of the world will.

The rest of us in this world—you included—we are going to remember that bullies are sometimes in school, sometimes in work, and sometimes in government. It doesn’t matter where they are, they’re still bullies. If a bully picks on you and you need to defend yourself you can, and I won’t be mad at you. Being safe is your right. If you can get your teacher or another adult to help you, even better. Because we need to stop bullies when they’re young enough to still learn that it’s not okay.

Did you catch that part? IT. IS. NOT. OKAY.

If we don’t get bullies while they’re young, they turn into this guy, a world leader who is a bully and a coward. So, my little tuna-treaters, that is why the world is at war. In the 1930s and 1940s, we saw what happened when we ignored a bully for a little while. We can’t let wait this time. We need to stop him before he hurts anyone else.

Oh—and before you say that I am a bully for chasing the dog off the couch, I’m not. The sun was on that cushion which automatically makes it MY spot. She can sit on the couch later when I don’t want to sit there anymore.

This was a long letter, so I expect extra minnow or something when you get home! My paws are tired!

LuLu the Calico Cat

New cat = I hate all of you

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Well, it’s official. I hate you. All of you.

I know that your teacher wants me to type yet another life lesson, but your teacher can go torch her tuna, I am MAD!

How DARE you bring another cat into this house! Who in the halibut do you think you are??? This is not YOUR house, this is MY house!

YES, I have seen that pathetic creature meowing outside in the streets and going through your trash can to find food. And YES, I get that she was outside shaking in the icy sleet get her head pelted with raining ice chips. Catch her and take her to get chip-checked? Fine. Get a vet to look for her (wasting money that should have been spent on me)? Okay, maybe.


There are shelters and rescues for that sort of thing! Do we look like a charity to you? Your parents don’t have enough money to build the fish pond I have asked for, so why would they risk having another mouth to feed?

WORSE, you let her take my room! Oh sure, your parents call it their office, but I nap in there! I play in there! The sun hits the back of the chair perfectly and now that trash-tripping-tarradiddle-trope of a feline is roasting HER backside on what is MY spot!!!

FINE, your stinky teacher wants another Psychology lesson? Let’s remind you all about in group versus out group! I am part of the in group of this family. She is part of the out group, no matter what your parents say. In group means the community that you are a part of and out group means everyone else, especially interlopers. It is natural to resent members of the out group because they might take resources meant for the resources. When humans act that way it’s mean and just plain dumb, but in my case it’s true! You are sharing MY treats and MY laps with that hellish hissing hussy!

I belong here. She doesn’t.

Don’t give me all of that-she’s-family-now malarky. Don’t act like giving me extra attention and treats is going to fix this either. I don’t care that she has no home and no chip. I don’t care that it is cold and snowing or that there are coyotes outside. I especially don’t care that no one claimed her when your mom posted her stupid found poster.

That tramp-cat needs to be lost again! Get her out! I want my room back!!! I’m the ONLY pretty girl here!!!

This is not going to end well for you! You have been warned!!!

In anger,

LuLu the LIVID Calico Cat

What color is Santa? Santa is a calico!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

You’re very lucky. I feel generous today. I almost didn’t send you a letter at all this week. Destroying Redesigning the Christmas tree and sitting on the research papers your mom has been grading has been keeping me busy, but I heard about the kids who got in a fight about Santa and decided that you might need me to explain the obvious to you.

One of the kids said Santa was white, and another kid said Santa was black. Then they got into this huge argument, and everybody started yelling. I can settle this. They’re both wrong.

Santa is a Calico.

He is a bunch of different colors, and the color the kids see is the one that he changes into. I say “he,” but Santa is sometimes female, so don’t get too stuck on that. I’m just too lazy to talk pronouns right now. I’m a cat. If you feed me, I don’t care what you are. Your litterbox is your business.

Santa is different for everybody because everybody is different. You get what you need the most when you need it the most. And what Santa looks like, and what Santa brings, shows what you need that year.

Rich kids at school will be bragging in January about getting piles of presents that are bigger than they are. Big whoop. Do you know why their Santa has to give them so much? It’s because they are already slightly jaded. They’ve been given so much in life that the only way they can feel special is if they’re given a bit more.

I mean, okay, great, you got a pile of presents, but how many can you actually play with at one time? I’m not blaming kids that their parents are rich, but it’s important for you to understand that some folks—especially those who seem to have everything they want—have trouble finding happiness with what they have. It’s never enough!

Poor kids at school will be quiet about what they got, or they may make up a story and say they got a bunch of stuff they’re never going to have. It hurts to feel like you don’t have what everyone else got or like someone else has a better life. But those poor kids should be really proud, even if they only get one thing. It means that Santa knows that they have good hearts and have a lot of hope.

Think about it, if poor kids are grateful for what they get and see it as an extra special event when they get a new toy or video game, then they will work hard to have more magic in their lives. The magic won’t get too old or ordinary, even when they one day get more money and more stuff. If Santa gets them hot food when they usually don’t get any, or if he manages to get them a toy, then it’s Santa’s way of showing how special their hearts are. Those kids will work hard to make magic for other kids as they get older, and they’ll be grateful for stuff others might just consider ordinary. Technically, they’re kind of rich too, aren’t they?

And if kids never get anything for Christmas, they should let their teachers and counselors know. Santa takes a lot of different forms and has a lot of extra helpers, but Santa sometimes needs kids to tell him what they need. Learning to ask for help is a really important life lesson. When someone asks for help, it lets adults know that they should do whatever they can. If no one asks, no one can answer! If a kid asks a teacher for help, then the teacher will be ready to help again the next year and may even have more time to prepare more of what might be needed. It’s sort of like the kid who asks for something now is being a Santa for the next kid who needs it. How’s that for crazy logic?

Your mind is blown, am I right? I’m a pretty brilliant cat!

See, Santa isn’t black, white, or purple (although I would pay two fishes to see a purple Santa!) Santa isn’t fat or thin, and Santa doesn’t always wear a red suit. Santa doesn’t expect you to go the extra mile, even though those “be good” songs say otherwise. Santa meets you where you are. He reminds you that you are good enough, just as you are in that magical Christmas moment. Santa becomes whatever it is that you need Santa to be.

Santa is a Calico. FACT.

Okay, I’m done fixing your silly human-kitten problems. I’ve been awake for an hour, so now I’m hungry and exhausted. Just so you know, I’m filling your stockings with hairballs as soon as I’m done typing. You’ll be grateful, am I right?

Your favorite, wise, guru-brain-thingy advisor,

LuLu the Calico Cat

Ignore the suckage, be thankful!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

I am glad that your teacher FINALLY remembered to send me tuna! She asked that this week I discuss thankfulness. No problem! I am sure that she is thankful for me and my letters, just as you are, and just as you should be!

You humans always show that you don’t really understand thankfulness. I’ve seen your ads on television. You’re not the only one who can work a remote! The message that commercials and spokes-fools shout about is how to GET more, BE more, and whoever has MORE wins! Geez, no wonder you humans are never happy!!! Everyone tells you that you’re not happy enough!!!

You go straight from Halloween to Christmas. Thanksgiving seems to be more of a transition holiday that just lets everyone have another food-related event before the bigger Christmas holiday.

Seriously, have you ever paid attention to the conversations at the Thanksgiving table? Everyone takes all of five seconds to say what they are thankful for and then BAM! The conversation changes to planning for Christmas, or shopping for Black Friday, or even Cyber Monday! It’s all about the MORE and less about the satisfaction and thankfulness for having what you’ve got!

Now okay, I get that there’s a debate about the history of Thanksgiving and whether it is a good or bad event, but the modern spirit behind Thanksgiving is right. Families should get together more often, eat lots of turkey, and appreciate what they have. But they never really do! They’re always so busy rushing and fussing to make everything “perfect”! And instead of just enjoying the time they have they shift their focus onto the next thing to come!

Live in the moment I say!

Let me help you out baby-kittens! I am gonna teach you and your classmates how to have year-long Thanksgiving! Ask yourself if you have food. Is the answer yes? Like, if you went to bed hungry was it because you didn’t have food, or was it because you couldn’t make yourself eat that bizarre salt-brined casserole your dad made last night? (Seriously, even the dogs wouldn’t eat it!) If your clothes get dirty, do you have other clothes to war? (Don’t panic—I won’t tell anyone about your Naruto cosplay!) When you come home, do you have somewhere safe in the home? Can you leave your stuff in your room and feel okay, like no one will take it?

If you can answer yes to at least two of those you have a LOT to be thankful for! This kind of stuff seems like your “normal” but you have a lot of things other kids don’t have! Okay, so maybe it would be nice to be rich or be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, but can you maybe—just maybe—be glad for what you have now?

Yes, your parents are total dorks and yes, sometimes things are soaked in suckage, but you still have a lot of good things like those stink-bomb pest-hounds, your siblings, and ME! If you have nothing else you have the world’s most wonderful cat in your life and my sister Trixie, so you should be thankful more than one day a year. You should be thankful every second!!! You’re welcome!!!
LuLu the Yes-I-Can-Be-Bribed-With-Tuna Calico Cat

P.S. If you want to eat turkey at Thanksgiving, good luck! I have plans for it!!!

Cereal killers are NOT what you’d think!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Another day, another lesson! So, I heard your mom was giving a special lecture on cereal killers and I went to see what kinds of cereal are involved. I wondered if she was talking about froot loops, or cheerios, or raisin bran, or the oat n’goats stuff your dad likes? Is there a meat cereal? I would dive into a big bowl of chicken chips, beef bonanza, or salmon snacks, are those a thing? If you’re killing it, it’s probably delicious. UMMMM…NOPE!

Do you know what your mom was looking at because there were NO bowls of cereal involved! It was all dead bodies, buckets of blood and body parts, and people with creepy eyes! I mean, I know they were just photos, but some of those folks made my tail bristle!

I get that she likes to talk about why people do stuff. That’s part of your mom’s Psychology schtick, am I right? She looks at people’s brains and behaviors and tries to figure them out. Okay, that’s not so bad. But this stuff? Crazy!

Look baby-kittens, I think that is a human mistake that you humans all try to make. You all look for what prompts someone to kill cereal. (I still don’t get how bowls of grains figure into this.) Whether it’s the just-world hippopotamus (your mom said hypothesis, but that’s not a real word, so I’m pretty sure it’s hippopotamus) where folks look for a reason that bad things happen or some type of brain abnormality that makes humans more aggressive, you humans all have to have a “why.”

Bad news kiddos, there isn’t always a reason. Sometimes bad things and bad people just happen. There are bad cats and dogs too. Not many (well, not many bad cats, dogs on the other paw…), but once in a while you have an animal whose brain is one fish short of a full pond. Not every awful moment in life can be prevented. I also heard that some kids at school got kind of violent and it was scary. Everyone kept asking if they could have done more. Maybe they could, maybe they couldn’t, but here’s a different question: Do you want to think the best of everybody or the worst of everybody?

Bullies and bad guys are gonna exist, but friends and good people are gonna exist too. How do you know who is which? You don’t, at least not at first. You have to wait and see what they do.

See, it doesn’t matter what their past is like, it matters what they choose their present to be.

Sometimes, kids and adults have a lot of bad stuff happen to them, like when you were bullied. That was really awful. But you didn’t let it stop you from being decent and standing up for others. Why not? Because there is more to being human—even for you—than just living through good and bad experiences.

Human minds and hearts work together in rough situations and the human actively chooses the next steps. You both chose good steps because you (although it kills me to admit it) have good minds and good hearts (except for loving that fart-factory you call a dog). Other people choose bad steps because their minds and hearts just don’t work together well. Trust your gut (NOT your dog’s gut! Yuck!) and if you feel uncomfortable walk away from that person. If you give them a chance and they betray you, well, you know for the future not to trust them.

You’ll learn over time when to trust and when not to trust. And if you trust wisely, you’ll never have to look at breakfast bowls filled with body parts. (Seriously, you have GOT to talk to your mom about this!!!)

Okay, I’m done being nice to you now. I need a nap. Go fetch me a fish.

Your favorite feline,

LuLu the Calico Cat

P.S. If your teacher doesn’t like the topic this week that’s her problem. Do you see me with a new pouch of tuna? No, you do not! No tuna means that I get to pick the topic! So there!

Just all kinds of wrong!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Well, LAST week did not work out as planned!

Whose cockamamie idea was it to take me to the vet? Do you people think I WANTED all those shots and bubble wands placed in inappropriate places? That so-called physical was so inordinately invasive that I got sick after! Have you seen what goes on when you let those people “weigh” me behind closed doors? It is NOT good back there, more like a warning to domesticated animals to avoid getting caught by the animal control folks.

Oh sure, the vet techs are all saccharine-sweet with how they talk, as if I’m a baby kitten, but all that sweet talk masks the sounds of vial and needles and manhandling (cat-handling?) of body parts I would rather not have touched, thank you very much!

Then my reaction to the trauma of that vet visit—essentially a conversion disorder—sent your parents into a panic. I thought they were supposed to be smart, but they’re kind of dumb, aren’t they? It’s a simple psychological concept: conversion.

I was upset at having my beauteous body kneaded like bread dough (DUH!), and the trauma meant that my tummy got sick and I was lethargic for a couple of days. Wouldn’t you be sick too? Seriously, unless you’re a show cat there is no reason for anyone to ever physically grab and play with your jolly bits!

So what do you ape-minded parents do when I was simply trying to recover? They took me back to the vet’s office! They were so panicked that they insisted the vet check me again and then—GET THIS—the vet called me a drama queen!!! AS IF!!!

LOOK, I do NOT mind being—on occasion, on my terms—touched, and I do NOT mind—again, on my terms—letting someone weigh me or hold me, but the needle thingys! Those are EVIL! That vet-person drew blood and gave me shots!!! My terrific tuckus had all kinds of holes in it by the time she was done!

Your parents—while entirely wrong to take me back to the vet—were showing through their terror of potentially losing me that they finally understand their true, lowly place in the world. They have finally realized that I am in charge, I am their universe, and without me they are NOTHING. Hmmm….this works for me!

I have changed my mind. The vet stuff is still warped, twisted, and all kinds of wrong, but if it scared your parents into finally comprehending how worthless they are without me, that’s not too bad.

I’m exhausted now. Go fetch me some fish.

LuLu the Magnificent Calico Cat

All humans are addicts!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Well, even though your teacher forgot my tuna for today’s letter, I am writing to you anyway because WOW you humans have problems! What is WRONG with you human-people???

Never mind, I already know. You guys are addicts! Seriously! ALL OF YOU!

You’re addicted to sweets, coffee, and pills! I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’m a cat!

First, your parents wake up and have coffee. They act all grumpy and mean until they get their brown java bean juice! Then, they suddenly act nicer! Hello—addicted much?

Then they go out of the house and later come home with more coffee!!! Day in and day out it’s coffee, coffee, coffee! You know that coffee is a drug, right? Your mom’s silly Psychology book says that drugs are anything that changes your brain or body. If your parents go from monsters to mouses because of coffee, ergo, coffee is a drug!

But wait—there’s more! Your t.v. has ads for all sorts of rainbow relaxer-style pills! There’s pills if you need to calm down, pills if you need more energy, pills if you can’t go to the bathroom, and pills if you go too much!!! If the pill factories shut down the world would shut down too!

The other day when your mom was watching some stupid show all of these commercials came on one right after the other, and none of them seemed to agree on anything! Some wanted you to sleep more but others wanted you to sleep less. Feeling sad? Grab a pill! So happy that they think you’re manic? Grab a different pill!

Then there’s the food ads!!!

This crunchy snack is just what you’re craving, unless it isn’t! Then you want this sweet cake or that u-mama noodle or the soba soybean surprise. While I respect the concept of having constant yumminess, you human-people have these bizarre extremes where you have to have bright colors and candies on top of perfectly ordinary things plus lots and lots of variety. You’d never make it in the feline world, I can tell you that one for sure!

Humans have never learned to manage emotions and physical urges. It’s way too obvious from all the in-your-face advertising. Let me help you understand why you humans are wrong, baby kitten.

Cats do not need constant food variety. Sure, we don’t mind the occasional extra treat, but our variety is more about toys and mental activities. With food, consistency ensures a clean plate and a semi-clean litterbox. We want our regular diet at regular times. If, on occasion, you have food we want like turkey or chicken, we know how to get it for ourselves. You can’t guard the table every second!

Cats rarely need pills, and then it is only the sickest cats. You humans are so used to using pills that you never even think to try other things first. Sometimes changing a diet, sleeping more, less screen time, or even a bit of exercise can help right your tilted windmill of a mind. But do you try to stretch or get balanced when you have a headache? Nope! You people go straight for the plastic bottle filled with terrible tablets that curl my whiskers when I get near them.

See, cats don’t need a sugar-rush or a tush-tabs because we understand the importance of processing our emotions. If we’re angry, we strike. If you scare us, we bite. If we get sad, we may (may) use you for a quick cuddle. Then we’ll swipe you after so you don’t get too self-important.

If we can’t sleep and it’s 3a.m. we don’t panic and pill-pop! We race around and around the house and knock over a few things until we’re finally exhausted and contented enough to curl back up into our own cushy furry body-woven blanket. I can sleep for HOURS after a good rip and roar around the house!

That’s why we don’t constantly need pills or drinks or desserts. Face it. Cats are just happier than humans!

Is it any wonder that you humans don’t have much in the way of real-world survival skills? You can’t function without pill-popping, coffee-sludge-slurping, and snack time! If you really want to survive, give up your addictions and learn to be a cat. You’ll be much happier baby-kittens!

I’m off for a well-deserved nap!
LuLu the Calico Cat

Multi-factorial idiocy

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Well, THAT didn’t work out as planned! I thought your teacher would get annoyed that I’m so blunt, but the silly human thinks that I just show a-how did she put it?-“strength of character and understanding of my personal truth!” GEEZ!!! 

I just want to talk about fish and get gifts (for me, of course) and instead she wants me to continue to lead you human-children up the wisdom mountain-top! I do not have time for you human people, don’t you know how difficult a cat’s life already is?

I have to nap several times a day, eat several times a day, and run around the house at 3a.m.! Do you not realize how much is involved in knocking plants and dishes off of the shelves while everyone is sleeping? It takes physical strength, inner determination, and mental planning. My life is not easy!!!

So FINE, I will teach you more. Plus you’ve been bringing home more pouches of tuna from your teachers and classmates, and I have to admit that I can be bought. Well, I can be borrowed for an hour or until my next nap.

Last time I talked how idiotic the world has gotten (big surprise!)

Everyone is a panic about shipping times and getting packages filled with stuff they don’t really need. Quite frankly, if it isn’t a case of tuna or turkey-flavored Temptations cat treats, I really don’t care what happens to those shipments. But if you really want to understand the situation, I will give you a term most humans don’t understand, multifactorial causation.

Great term, am I right???

See, adult-humans try to tell you poor human-kittens that “this politician” caused something or “that policy” made stuff go wrong, but it’s never that easy! There’s a complex process happening!

Let me put it into an example you can better understand. Remember when that lizard got into the house last week? Sure, you saw me pounce and catch it not once but twice! It was an awesome game! I released it, your mom screamed, and I chased it again! Snap! Straight into my feline jaws for a quick moment!

NOW…do you think that was easy? Heck, no!

I had to determine the lizard’s leg span, his potential running speed based on his body type and age, I had to analyze the sunlight patterns in the room to better understand if he would swish-tail towards the triple window or slashy-slink under the couch near the darker double window.

That takes a lot of brain power, and that’s before the chase begins! I had microseconds to perform a mental catabolic interpretation of the data. Not easy, little ones, not easy! Then I have to factor in my own pounce rate and how I will need to set up my bounce-and-pounce routine based on the furniture placement.

Adding to all of that was the confounding variable of how the lizard might react to your mother’s panicked screeches as they echoed up to the ceiling and ball-bounced on the walls! Catching lizards is serious business!!!

The triumph of catching the tasty treat has multi-factorial causation, and all of the points must converge while all the planets align in just such a meticulous manner that then allows for munching of said intruder!

SOOOO…when people are panicking and looking for a one-source solution to a problem with multi-factorial causation, YOU baby-kittens, need to set them right.

You want to survive the up-and-coming chaos? Learn to work together. Stop worrying about who is to blame and start looking at how you ALL can fix the situation!!! Multi-factors need multi-approaches, so fix this! I HAVE SPOKEN!!!

And now I’m exhausted, so now I will nap!

Ciao baby kittens!
LuLu the Calico Cat

Groupthink is Goopthink!

A cat typing at a computer.
Letter by Claire McElvaney
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Well, here I am again, acting like I care about you. I do and I don’t, it’s complicated. Yeah, you’re my human family and on rare occasions you serve me well (usually at breakfast time, lunch time, snack time, and dinner time) but there are other moments that you annoy the litterbox out of me.

It’s very difficult being a wise, dignified, ancient creature when everyone around you tries to pet you while you’re napping and calls you a “sweet little kitty.” UGH!!!! I will accept Devine Goddess Feline or even Queen Calico LuLu, but “sweet kitty” is demeaning and insulting. IT HAS TO STOP!

Now, your semi-foolish teacher FINALLY understood my hint and has sent some cat treats. That officially makes me a paid author now, am I right??? I have to develop my CV to reflect this! For that reason (yes, I can be bribed) I will consent to imparting my Psychology wisdom to you yet again. Everyone else gets paid to teach, so why shouldn’t I?

The prophets got offerings of food and various rich-type gifts, so it is only fitting that when I share my wisdom you share your wealth via foods, gifts, or even a credit card that I can use online for one of the animal-devoted web sites. (FYI your mom’s credit card now has zero credit available—not sure why, since it turns out that “1000 live mice” option was pick-up only, so they cancelled the order this morning! Wilting whiskers! You can’t trust anybody!)

My online shopping for myself made me pay attention when those weird talking head-people on the news were discussing Christmas-buying worries and how everything is going to be delayed or not be available at all.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love and DEMAND Christmas gifts, but I think you humans panic yourself into your problems! Think about it: someone says stuff is going to be hard to get, so everyone goes all beheaded-chicken-crazy and starts blindly running around to buy everything in sight! Ridunculous!

This is groupthink at its worst! Groupthink is a fancy way of saying that everyone in a mob achieves the same conclusion whether or not the conclusion is logical. You humans have heard there may be less items available or shipped in time to place under your Christmas trees, so instead of enjoying the harvest season you are flipping out and buying everything you can for a holiday that is two months away.

It’s just like the toilet paper thing! Everyone hears there’s going to a shortage on toilet paper, so everyone panics and buys as much as they can!

HELLO!!! Ever heard of rationing your supplies to make them last? Did World War II teach you people nothing about learning to preserve and carefully use what you have? Did the rationing back then mean that people had a little less? Of course it did! But seeing as new generations of foolish humans were created from those who made it through World War II it is quite clear that staying calm and sensibly planning ahead made all of the difference. Having less and being careful with what you already had meant that you could survive. No panic was required!

Now, will Christmas be less fun if you have one less terroristic-noise-making toy or glow-in-the-dark didgeridoo? Possibly! But if everyone you love is alive and safe, who flipping cares?

Seriously, I never thought I would advocate that everyone pay attention to the wisdom of some whackadoodle human who created a furry green monster who terrorized a town, but that Dr. Seuss fellow was right. Christmas should be more than the stuff. It should be about the moment.

STOP PANICKING. IGNORE GROUPTHINK. You humans are making your own problems! Enjoy what you have and tell others to do that as well.

You have your family, you have the other dumbo pets, and you have your magnificent Calico Queen Goddess Divine Prophet Cat LuLu, i.e., ME. You already have everything. By the way, I may add to my title later, I like how it sounds!

Since everyone else is looking towards what will happen at Christmas, I will be planning the future of Thanksgiving. Don’t plan on eating turkey—I have plans of my own that will confiscate your tasty bird!

Be an individual! Ignore groupthink! Buy me some treats!


LuLu  the Calico Queen Goddess Divine Prophet Cat