Guest post by Clea Simon
I am not a kitten! I am a fully grown cat. For seven books now, seven entire outings by my primary person Dulcie Schwartz, I have been proving my value as a functional feline, and yet I still do not receive the respect I deserve.
Excuse me for starting off this way, but some things just make my fur stand on end. One of them, as you may have gathered, is when people – my people – do not take me seriously as an adult feline. Not to mention royal.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am both. To you, I may appear a rather, shall we say, roly-poly black and white tuxedo cat of female gender, approximately one year old. (I was rather young when I was adopted, and besides, a lady does not reveal her age.) Once we have been properly introduced, however, you will realize that I am La Principessa Esmeralda. Esmé for short, among those who owe me obeisance. But “Kitten”? Enough of that.
I’ll admit, the lack of respect is only part of the problem. You see, now that Dulcie, my principal human attendant, is helping out with this academic conference, she is also shorting the homage due to me, as her current ruling cat. Yes, of course I understand that Dulcie has a so-called career to deal with. She’s been working on that dissertation of hers for longer than I have been with the household. And, yes, she has explained that academics from all around the world have come to Cambridge, and that as the departmental liaison, she has a unique opportunity to meet and mingle with them all. And I know that she didn’t expect them all to behave as badly as they have been – with the backbiting and the jealousy, the clandestine romances and the sabotage that gives “catfighting” a bad name. So, yes, such goings-on will take up some of her time. But still….
And it’s not just me. My other human, Chris, has been noticing how busy Dulcie has been. I believe they make a decent team: one of them usually remembers my treats, and Chris is particularly handy with the belly rubs and the toy mice. But, really, Dulcie should make more time for him, as well. I don’t like the way he’s been disappearing at night. I think there may be more going on than Dulcie is aware of and its not just me who needs a little more attention.
All of which might be forgiven if she would cease that demeaning mode of address. “Oh, Kitten,” she says, ignoring my obvious poise. “My thesis adviser has me running around in circles, and I’m so far behind in my writing and research I’ll never get my dissertation done. What am I going to do?”
Kitten? Really? I must try to control this humiliating purr, which keeps starting up whenever she strokes my silky black back. It’s bad enough my eyes close and my white front paws begin to knead involuntarily as she rubs the place behind my ears. If I don’t insist on some respect, how will I ever train my humans?
I could defer to Mr Grey, of course. As Dulcie’s previous cat, he does have a store of knowledge that I have yet to gather. And since he has moved onto the spirit realm, I don’t find him too obnoxiously present in our lives. At least, I don’t share my treats with him. Perhaps he would have some advice for me – some words about how to handle Dulcie and Chris. Maybe how to help her, now that the conference seems to be falling apart and – can it be true? – a famous academic has plummeted to his death. Perhaps then she could focus on what is really important.
No, not on her thesis – on me!
Esmé joins Dulcie, Chris, and Mr Grey in Grey Howl, the seventh Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery (Severn House), out this month.
Look for a review of Grey Howl here on The Conscious Cat soon!
Clea Simon is the author of the Dulcie Schwartz, Pru Marlowe and Theda Krakow mysteries and the nonfiction The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Cats and Their Women as well as several other nonfiction books. For more information about Clea, please visit her website or her blog.
Photo at top of post Wikimedia Commons, inset ©Clea Simon, showing her cat Musetta as a kitten.