Love Saves the Day - By Gwen Cooper



THERE ARE TWO WAYS HUMANS HAVE OF NOT TELLING THE TRUTH. The first used to be hard for me to understand because it doesn’t come with any of the usual signs of not-truth-telling. Like the time Sarah called my white paws “socks.” Look at your adorable little socks, she said. Socks are what humans wear on their feet to make them more like cats’ paws. But my paws are already padded and soft, and I can’t imagine any self-respecting cat tolerating something as silly as socks for very long.

So at first I thought Sarah was trying to trick me by saying something that wasn’t true. Like the time she took me to the Bad Place and said, Don’t worry, they’re going to make you healthy and strong. I knew from the tightness in her voice when she put me into my carrier that some betrayal was coming. And it turned out I was right. They stabbed me with sharp things there and forced me to hold still while human fingers poked into every part of my body, even my mouth.

When it was all over, the lady who did it put me back into my carrier and told Sarah, Prudence has such cute white socks! She was smiling and calm when she said it, so I knew she wasn’t trying to trick Sarah like Sarah had tried to trick me about going there in the first place. I thought maybe I should lick my paws or do something to show them that these were my real feet, not the fake feet humans put on before they go outside. I thought that maybe humans weren’t as smart as cats and wouldn’t understand such subtle distinctions unless they were pointed out.

That was when I was very young, just a kitten, really—back when I first came to live with Sarah. Now I know that humans sometimes best understand the truth of things if they come at it indirectly. Like how sometimes the best way to catch a mouse that’s right in front of you is to back up a bit before you pounce.

And later at home, looking at my reflection in Sarah’s mirror (once I realized it was my reflection and not some other cat who was trying to take my home away from me), I saw how the bottoms of my legs did look a bit like the socks Sarah sometimes wears.

Still, to say that they were socks and not that they looked like socks was clearly untrue.

The other way humans have of not telling the truth is when they’re trying to trick one another outright. Like when Laura visits and says, I’m sorry I haven’t been here in such a long time, Mom, I really wanted to come sooner … and it’s obvious, by the way her face turns light pink and her shoulders tense, that what she really means is she never wants to come here. And Sarah says, Oh, of course, I understand, when you can tell by the way her voice gets higher and her eyebrows scrunch up that she doesn’t understand at all.

I used to wonder where the rest of Laura’s littermates were and how come they never came over to see us. But I don’t think Laura has any littermates. Maybe humans have smaller litters than cats, or maybe something happened to the others. After all, I used to have littermates, too.

But that was a long time ago. Before I found Sarah.

The Bad Place is a short walk from where we live in a place called Lower East Side. (Technically, it was Sarah who walked there, because I was in my carrier. Still, it didn’t take her very long, and cats can walk faster than humans. That’s a fact.) The lady there told Sarah that I’m a polydactyl brown tabby. Sarah asked if that meant I was some kind of flying dinosaur? The lady laughed and said, no, it just means I have extra toes. I’m not sure which of my toes are supposed to be the “extra” ones though, because I’m positive I need them all. And it’s not really true to say I’m brown because parts of me are white—like my chest and my chin and the bottoms of my legs. Also, my eyes are green. And even the parts of me that are brown have darker stripes that are almost black. But I’ve noticed that humans aren’t as precise as cats are. It’s hard to believe they feel safe enough to sleep at night.

The stabbing