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!

Ciao!

LuLu  the Calico Queen Goddess Divine Prophet Cat

World peace=Nonexistent Venn Diagrams

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Well, this has gotten ridunculous! And yes, that IS a word if I say it is!!!

First, I wrote to you out of kindness and pity; it has to be difficult to be away from my gorgeousness every day. Plus, when you’re upset your mom gets upset and the food becomes substandard quickly!

Now your teacher wants me to do MORE???

Plus, she wants more of Psychology! I won’t do it! I am a cat! I am not some plaything of humans, only existing to serve their bidding! That’s what dogs are for! Mind you, your teacher did put her request with a packet of tuna, so I guess it is more of a paid commission than a favor, so…

FINE. I will write more stupid letters to you monkey-children, but you had better recognize my superiority!

Let’s talk about world peace and why it will never happen. That should make Miss Kum-By-Yah happy!

That stupid spaniel-dog of yours gave you some garbage about dogs being the key to world peace. NOT! Let me lay some Social Psychology down on you and correct this stupidity. World Peace is impossible.

There are in-groups and out-groups, and no in between. You are (despite my objections) part of our household, so you are part of our in-group as you are one of us. I will defend you against anyone who is not part of our in group, i.e., those in the out-group.

Before you get to comforted by the thought of me protecting you please realize that I am only protecting you from others. As far as I am concerned, you are still a combination can opener and scratching post and I can treat you however I want.

Human society loves to have “us” and “them.” Even the “unity” and “diversity” stuff is garbage because everyone makes a show of hugging and loving someone “different.”

HELLLLLOOOOO!!!!

If you are making a show of caring for someone as DIFFERENT than you see them as DIFFERENT! How can they ever be part of your in-group if you only focus on the differences?

You’ve got to make new in-groups if you really want to get along! You humans need to Venn diagram each other! Yeah! I said it! Venn your way to getting along and you might have a chance!

Since your hippy-dippy teacher wants me to write letters you can share with everyone, here goes (she’s gonna regret this!):

On your desk or your work table, take a massive piece of paper and write all the important things about yourself inside of a circle. Write down favorite books, music groups, television shows, sport, hobbies, cosplay—whatever tickles your toenails! Then I want you to take a picture with the cell phone we all know you are hiding under your desk. Now take that photo and go around and see what others have in their circles.

If you find anyone who doe NOT have something in their circle that overlaps with yours—wait for it—MAKE A NEW CIRCLE! Talk to that other human for five minutes and find out what you have in common, possibly something you haven’t thought of!

Maybe they’re like your family of weirdos and put sprinkles on mashed potatoes! Maybe they apologize to furniture when they bump into it (stop lying and denying—you know this is you!) Maybe they’re like you and can sing Monty Python’s Philosopher’s Drinking Song 20 times in a row and still want to sing it more! You’ll never know until you ask!

THAT is why world peace cannot happen for humans! You always look for easy in-groups and easy out-groups. You look at what color someone’s skin is, or what style of clothing the wear, or you look at how much tech-stuff they have and how new it is.

But you know what baby-kittens? None of that garbage matters.

There are natural equalizers in this world. When you get the flu and your friend gets the flu, you both have the flu no matter how many devices you have. And when you lose a friend and they lose a friend, you both feel sad and lost, and what clothes you’re wearing at that moment isn’t important at all.

Humans will never have peace until they learn to find their in-group connection in others. Sorry baby-kittens and Miss Kum-By-Yah, but that’s the truth. I’m not really sorry by the way.

The solution to making everyone part of the same in-group is for you all to learn to worship cats, especially me. Then my world, if not yours, will definitely be better!

Ciao, human-kitten-apes, I’m off to open my tuna pouch!
LuLu the Calico Cat

Maslow was wrong!

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

The more I read your mother’s Psychology book, the more I realize how stupid you humans are. You’re almost as dumb as dogs!

You seem to need reasons to help you understand why you are happy and unhappy! PUH-LEASE!

Who is this Maslow and why does he need a pyramid? He wasn’t even Egyptian!!!

I looked at each of the levels and not ONE mentioned cats!!!

He starts with “basic survival needs” but everyone know you need a cat for survival!

Why in the name of Garfield are we not listed???

Safety is up there, but why??? If you have a cat on the basic survival level, you will have safety! Our claws aren’t just for show! And as for love and affection, well, if you worship a cat you are showing love and affection, am I right?

That’s just a hypothetical question by the way, of COURSE I am right! I’m always right!

Now, that whole self-esteem level is stupid. If you have a cat at home and we are willing to put up with you, that should be enough. Esteem is a strong word, it just makes humans act all uppity, but “cat happy” will work.

Last, of course, Maslow had that ridiculous self-actualization stuff, which really should be “realizes cats are royalty.”

Look baby-kittens, those levels are fishier than a tuna net! I’m gonna help you out with LuLu’s Pyramid instead. Egyptians worshipped cats, so we deserve a pyramid more than that Maslow fellow!

Here goes:

Bottom Level—Survival needs, a.k.a., adopt as many cats as you can afford to feed. Don’t worry if you can’t afford food for yourself, cats can catch mice for you. You’re wlecome!

Next level—Safety need>See Bottom level. Cats will keep you safe. Unless we’re sleeping, then we don’t care. Anyone who dares to wake us will NEED safety because we will destroy you and everything around you. We may do that anyway. Just saying!

Next-up Level—Belongingness is easy. You belong to us. Done.

There is no level for self-esteem. You don’t need self-esteem if you live with a cat. It will just get in your way when we start dominating you. Why complicate things?

The top level is Feline Realization instead of Self-Actualization. Once you realize that WE are in charge and that you cannot live without cats, then your life is complete.

You do not need books, or theories, or research to be happy. You need cats. Cats alone can make you happy! Oh, and if you really want to keep a dumb pest-hound dog you can. Someone’s gotta lick the floor clean, I’m not gonna do it!

Now go away, all this talk of snacks and naps has me hungry!
LuLu the Calico Cat

Or are cats behaviorists?

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

So, I looked up more on that Freud guy. THAT human was–what’s the word your mom uses when she’s trying to be diplomatic?–UNIQUE! He was unique!!! (Unique as in four whiskers short of a full set!)

I don’t know that I like the idea of having unconscious drives. All of my action are conscious and deliberate, baby-kittens! No one is driving my behaviors around but me!!!

Plus, I refuse to let anyone try psychoanalysis on me. I don’t mind the analysis part (as if anyone could ever dissect a genius mind like mine!) but the phrase “psycho” is a little unnerving!

Anyways, I looked more through your mom’s nerdy Psychology book and saw Behaviorism. Now THAT is a topic that appeals to me!

Plus the guy who founded it, Skinny-something, did a lot with rats. He put them in cages and made them work for their food. It’s not as good as eating them, but using rats for entertainment is somewhat respectable, so I think I would’ve liked this guy.

Now, the principles of Behaviorism state that humans respond to rewards and punishments in the environment. The rewards part is for wimpy, touchy-feely-crybaby humans who do not respect their place in the world (i.e. as the playthings of cats), but PUNISHMENT!!!

Punishment is an idea I can get firmly behind! I demonstrate punishment of humans on an hourly basis!

Whenever you guys forget to keep my bowl full enough so that food tips off the top if anyone goes near it I will yowl and yowl and yowl until someone comes running. Then after someone finally tops of my bowl I deliver a good, strong swipe and a quick chomp just to remind you who’s boss. If it’s your mom she actually apologizes! That is how a good human servant is supposed to react! I’ve noticed that after giving a few bloody directives about this my bowl seems to always be fuller. Behaviorism really works!

And the other day when the dogs chased me into the kitchen I jumped up onto the cart and knocked an entire cup of water onto their heads! Drenched dogs smell, but at least they stink in another room away from me! They ran away like they’d just seen your mom filling the bathtub! You see, they got punished for being obnoxious. They are usually obnoxious anyway, but it’s nice if there’s something near by to throw at them.

If you start to think that I am being mean let me point out that it is called POSITIVE punishment because I added swipes and water and bites and yowling! Positive means that I positively should punish you for not doing your job, and I am positive that I would do it all again!!!

Yes indeedy, that Skinny-fellow was on to something good! I am now officially a behaviorist!

Speaking of positive punishment, I want you to stop being nice to those dumb dogs, so I am positively leaving a squishy gift in your shoes! Get you toes ready to find it!
LuLu the Calico Cat

Cats are Freudian creatures!

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Well, this week was stupid! They hauled away two of the dogs next door, but then they left the other six!!! What kind of cockamamie plan was THAT???!!!

Worse, they left all the dogs in the other houses including our dumbo mutts! What kind of animal control is that supposed to be? HELLOOOO Control the stupid canines and take them ALL away!!!

CATS RULE, DOGS DROOL-DUH!

So that dumb hound Jamie told you that it’s the owners that are bad, not the dogs. LIES! LIES! LIES!

Dogs are BAD! Think about it—dogs are stupid sycophants who display excessive amounts of slobber and some sort of bizarre dependent personality disorder. I read all about it in your mom’s psychology book!

Dogs can’t be left alone for a minute, they act like criticism is the worst thing in the world, they can never stick to a decision, and they always freak out when your parents leave and act like they’ll never come back! If that isn’t proof that dogs have issues, I don’t know what is! 

Cats NEVER have these issues. We don’t care what you say. If you criticize US, we go to sleep. When you leave the house, we get happy and throw a cat party. You think we purr and greet you because we missed you? As if! We’re purring because you can work the can opener you big dumb ape-person!

There’s a show called “My cat from hell,” ever heard of it?

Now, obviously, that show is clear proof that all cats are perfect, because otherwise they would not need a show. And did you ever see what that guy tells the families? He tells them that it’s THEIR fault. THEIRS! NOT the cat’s!

The cats in that show act ugly because their humans are failing them miserably. Cats are deep, dedicated souls who need food, play, naps and (selective) cuddles. We don’t do bad things. Sure, we ignore you humans most of the time, but that’s because we are showing you that we are okay JUST AS WE ARE. Dogs are never good enough, but us cats are amazing!

Remember when Trixie and I went to eat your sister’s beta fish? The pathetic dogs stopped us and it seemed like we were doomed to die without out meeting our fishy-driven-needs. Do you know what we had for dinner that night? Canned tuna and salmon! Those fish are HUGE and made your sister’s beta look like a minnow!

Obviously, your mom wisely saw our behavior and realize we were expressing our deep-seated need for affection in the form of tasty fish. It’s part of our subconscious need for approval via pescatarian efforts.

It’s a Freudian thing, you wouldn’t understand.

You humans never have understood cats and never will. Dogs are stupid. Cats are brilliant. That’s the only truth that matters! Now go eat your stupid human lunch and remember that I expect massive piles of gifts and treats when you get home. Or else!
LuLu the Calico Cat

New diet=Chicken stealing!

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

YES I stole the chicken off the table! NO I don’t care (too much!)

I didn’t like getting yelled at, and I didn’t like when they took it away before I could munch it all.

BUT SERIOUSLY???!!!

Your mom THREW IT AWAY!!! All that beautiful bones and gristle, GONE!

If she wasn’t gonna eat it, why couldn’t I have it? I didn’t mind the carpet threads and a little dirt—it’s just more chewy that way!

I don’t like this new diet thing! I want more food! Why doe we have to diet? Why does it have the word die in it? That doesn’t seem like a good thing!

YOU don’t have to diet! I saw you get your regular lunch!!! I want regular lunch!!!

I like the rice and the lamb and stuff, but the green beans and sweet potatoes are weird. Could you cook them in bacon? Everything’s better when it is cooked in bacon, right?

There should be a LOT more meat! The cats get LOTS of meat, but we don’t! WHY?

What is this “balance” your mom keeps talking about, and who cares??? If it doesn’t have meat, it doesn’t matter!

So I’m a little gassy and my butt squeaks! Everyone’s butt squeaks, mine just squeaks a bit more! The old food was FINE!!!

Maybe we should try a new vet! The old one could be jealous or something! No one ever takes her for a walk, and all she does is give shots. She never gets to play with the dogs who come in; she just touches us in weird places and talks to our peoples. No wonder she’s miserable!

So YES I am going to start hunting whatever dinner is on the table! If the cats get to be jerks, so do I!

I WANT MORE MEAT.

But I don’t want you to be mad! Why couldn’t I have some of your dinner? Why can’t I beg at the table? How am I supposed to get more food???

I don’t think this diet thing is good AT ALL. I’m starting to sound mean like the cats! HELP!!!

Jamie Spaniel

My diet=Your doom!

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Your parents are giving me a headache.

Cats do not like certain things.

We do not like pest-hounds. We do not like having our sleep disturbed. And we definitely, DEFINITELY, do not like when you humans change our food!

WHO DO YOU PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE??? You do not own US. We own YOU. We did NOT approve of this absurd challenge to our purrfect routine!

What is this “new” diet garbage all about? So what if the vet thinks I’m a little chubby! She’s just jealous because she can’t pull off the same look! If she has a spread around her middle then someone is going to say something, but me??? It just proves that I can take care of myself!

I. AM. GORGEOUS.

You human-people are obsessed with weight! You have diet pills and diet foods and diet commercials. Every single minute of the day those so-called experts contradict themselves by saying “eat this” and “don’t eat that” right after someone else says only to do the opposite! You human-idiots cannot make up your minds on what is healthy and what isn’t!

And NOW you are attempting to enforce your questionable standards on me, a cat!

Let me explain this one time and one time only: I eat what I want, WHEN I want.

If you do not feed me as I demand I will yowl until you do. You will NEVER sleep again. I promise you!

Your shoes, your bedspreads, and anything white will not be safe. I can produce hairballs on an empty stomach, so do not think I will hesitate to urp or claw you until I get the treats and foods I require for my happiness.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!
LuLu—a.k.a. your diet doom-Cat

Is this a poop cult?

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

Your parents spend way too much time taking care of the pest-hounds. It has to stop!

I have ignored this bizarre “walking” routine (although if your parents try to put ME on a leash I will claw their eyes out!). I have ignored the baby talk and ridiculous need to take pictures of the dogs who are nowhere near as gorgeous as I am, BUT…

WHAT IS THEIR OBSESSION WITH DOG POOP?????

Your parents are preoccupied with poop!!!

They walk with the dogs and stand by when they poop (EWWWWW). Your mom gets excited when those stupid fluff balls walk in circles and WORSE! She tells them that they’re being good!

Your parents talk about the dogs’ poop (Did they or didn’t they? Did it look okay? How is the new food affecting them?)

Enquiring minds DO NOT want to know!

Your parents just have this skeezy, ooky-urpy-fested need to be all up in the doggy-doo bidness!

 I have tried to ignore your parents’ fanatical addiction to those dumb dogs, but this is going too far! The other day I looked out of the window and saw your parents walking the dogs back to the house with bags of dog poop in their hands!!!

Your parents are preserving the dogs’ poop in those little baggies. Doesn’t that concern you at all??? Where the heck are they storing all of those bags of dog poop and WHAT are they planning to use it for?

Then, as if the nightmare wasn’t already coming true, I caught your parents taking MY poop out of the litter box! The more I thought about it the more I realized that every time I pee or poop, it all disappears!

What is happening in this house??? What have you and your parents gotten me in to??? This has to stop! I am disgusted! I am appalled! I am sickened!!!
GET. THEM. HELP. NOW.

Oh, and bring me tuna.

In horror and disgust,
LuLu Cat

Be happy with what you’ve got!

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

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

I am insulted, aggrieved, enraged, and irritated!

Firstly, I found out that those ridiculous dog-pests had the nerve to write a letter while I was napping! Then I found out that the stupid spaniel gave you yet another bit of so-called dog-wisdom. THERE IS NO SUCH THING!

Dogs are not wise, they are supercilious sycophants who will follow anyone who offers luncheon meat! If you read through that ridiculous dog-letter you will notice that your dog thinks that going through life in a canine-fashion brings happiness. It’s a plot!

Dogs look and sound innocent, but they’re secretly trying to make all humans act more like dogs. Think about it: by making humans copy dogs you’ll become mindless, butt-sniffing drones who follow anyone with a piece of chicken.

First, they’ll take over your minds, then they’ll take over your groceries and your furniture! Conniving canines cannot be trusted!!!

Let me give you the TRUE way to have happiness: there is none. Happiness is a worthless pursuit for you humans because you refuse to be happy.

The dumb dog is (sort of) right about one thing: you human-people are never satisfied. You always look for something better. You get a package, open it, show your prize off to your friends, and then start looking for something new!

How can you ever be happy when you don’t try to enjoy what you have?

Now look at me!

I wake up early, yowl in your dad’s face and bite at him until he opens his eyes, then I show him my butt. Instead of being offended he cuddles me (not too horrible) and then fetches my breakfast before he even gets his coffee! Then, while your parents eat breakfast, I jump up on the table and yowl again until they pet me. I even paw some food sometimes!

Both of your silly parents (poor things!) talk about how they shouldn’t let me on their table, but then they start petting me and forget what they just said. They often start talking about how beautiful I am–and they’re right!

Every. Single. Morning. SUCKERS!

After breakfast someone cleans my litterbox (as they should!) and I watch them until they finish. Then I use it again, just to see them roll their eyes and sigh. It’s kind of funny!  

I then proudly walk away to take the first of several naps. From time to time, I wake up and walk across their keyboards while they’re teaching. Their students LOVE me! Your parents will try to move me off camera because they are jealous that their students would rather see me than learn about some stupid math or psychology junk!

Later during the day I remind your mom and dad to give me treats every few hours, and, when I am ready, I demand dinner. Occasionally I allow them to cuddle me after, but only when I choose to let them do it.

You see, happiness is not about getting MORE or NEW. It is about enjoying what you already you have.

If you don’t like what you have now, you’re never gonna be happy no matter what you get later.

Ignore the dogs. Don’t roll in the grass or sniff others’ butts, or any of the gross stuff that those dumb dogs do. Wake up, realize what you have, make people work to please you, take an extra nap once in a while, and just enjoy!

Life is only hard because humans make it so; don’t be stupid and look for the “next best” thing. Work with what you’ve got, like I do! You can have goals but still be happy with where you are.

Do I want more catnip mice and more Temptations each day? Of course, I do! But I also purr because some moments are right just the way they are.

Sometimes you just have to be thrilled that the sun shines through the window on your napping spot. What else do you need to be happy???

Look at THAT! I’ve sent you TWO nice letters in just a few weeks! You’re welcome!
I’m still biting you later!
LuLu the Magnificent Calico Cat

For happiness, be like me!

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon McElvaney

Dear Ethan & Olivia,

I sure hope you get this letter!

Someone changed the password on your mom’s laptop right after the eight cases of tuna cans showed up, so it’s been hard for me to get a chance to write. Fortunately your uncle called so your mom stepped away and left it open for me.

Apparently your mom & dad thought they’d been “hacked” or something so they changed all their passwords. I thought they knew it was LuLu–she’s always hacking something up! But your mom still works on her laptop when LuLu is around, so I don’t think she gets what happened. She’ll figure it out when they get the box of cat toys next week! I hope you like lasers & robot mice!

I noticed your mom and dad are looking up “healthy eating”, “mindfulness”, and other junk meant to make humans happy. WHY?  

Happiness is about petting dogs, rolling on the grass, and sitting in the sunshine. I think you people make it too complicated.

Everyone thinks I’m dumb, but I’m not! Dogs are all very smart, even us dumb ones!

We’re happy when you rub our bellies, we’re happy when you give us treats, we’re happy when you tell us we’re pretty, and we’re happy just to sit with you and look at your eyes.

You humans have to have cars, video games, and stuff, stuff, and more stuff! You’re so busy getting new stuff that you never even take the time to break in the old stuff! How can you possibly be happy going from one thing to the next thing without first settling in and getting some chewiness in with what’s around you?

Okay, YES, I seem excited when you bring me new toys, but my old chew bone is my favorite! It reminds me of home, and home is YOU. So long as I have YOU, I’m always going to be happy!

Maybe it’s time to stop reading books and listening to “podcats” thingys. Be like me instead! You won’t regret it!

I love you both and hope you will come home soon. This belly won’t rub itself!
Jamie the Spaniel
PS Be careful, LuLu was looking up how to fill a syringe with cyanide & peanut butter. That can’t be good!