Eventually, every pet owner faces the ethical question: how much is my pet worth to me? If the veterinarian says $75, I don’t hesitate to pay. If she says $1,200 in order to prolong life for a year, I need to think about it. If she suggests an extremely experimental human-to-cat kidney transplant–well, that’s going too far.
In deciding how much money is reasonable to spend on our calico cat, Megatron, I consider her emotional value, but I also have to consider whether she has any financial value. She doesn’t have a source of income, but she does do my taxes, and every year that saves me from paying an accountant $150. On the other hand, she doesn’t do my taxes very well, costing me a total of $3,500 in over-looked deductions.
You may ask why I would even consider letting my cat do my taxes.
Did I mention Megatron is a genius?
At night I used to put her in the downstairs bathroom to prevent her from meowing at our door in the morning, but inevitably I would wake up to find her in our room, perched on my nightstand, quietly staring at me. How did she get through two closed doors? At first I hoped she might have the ability to teleport from one place to the next, and I tried squeezing her while shouting out places I wanted to go: “Paris ! London ! Hogwarts!”
Much to my disappointment, I discovered she wasn’t teleporting, but rather opening doors by jumping up and pulling down on our levered door handles. Not as exciting as teleporting, but still pretty clever.
Other signs of intelligence? She can also flush the toilet, although she doesn’t actually deposit anything before pushing the lever. And oftentimes she walks back and forth across my laptop keyboard, maybe trying to type some sort of message or warning, although I can’t make any sense of it.
Me: “hjo!p/a1/hhe6? What are you trying to tell me, Megatron? Hmm…I’ll start with hjo!p. Megatron, is the first part, hjo, intitials? Are those intitials? And then next comes an exclamation point? Does the exclamation point mean danger? Is someone with the initials hjo facing danger from someone with a name that starts with p? Or is p the one in danger? Wait a second…my name starts with p!”
The more intelligence she displayed, the more paranoid I became. If she could pull a door lever and a toilet lever, couldn’t she also pull a trigger?
After clearing our house of all potential weapons–except my catapult which would require at least three cats to operate correctly–I began to think, what if I can use her intelligence to help me somehow? I left my tax forms and receipts on the kitchen table, but she showed no interest. The following night I smeared a bit of tuna on my 1040, and when I returned the next morning it was done (although not very well, as the IRS would inform me a few months later).
Her genius designation suffered a setback last Saturday when she singed her paw playing with a candle. Even a world-renowned genius like an Albert Einstein or a Bruce Willis makes an occasional mistake, and I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt until I inspected her more closely and noticed she’d singed the other front paw as well.
Yes, this makes her seem less intelligent, but on the other hand, did I mention she was the one who had lit the candle as part of a combustion engine experiment?
Because if I did, that would be untrue. I wish the reason had been something as impressive as a combustion engine experiment.
It was actually a cat seance.