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If Not For The Cats

By: Linda Hillen

How does one define sanity, as opposed to insanity? Is behaving in morally acceptable manner considered sane? But first we must take into consideration standards of the times and cultures. My grandmother would have surely been branded insane if she had danced the twist or the monkey in her teen years. But these sixties dance styles was looked upon as youthful vitality.

I guess no matter how you define it, sanity is a matter of concept. You might say we are all insane in varying degrees. The least being the occasional wounds to the morale of a loved one. The worst, physical damage inflicted on human flesh by its own species. Most of us fall in the first category. Some of us find ourselves living the mundane existence mapped out for us by fate.

I was one of those who lived one day pretty much the same as the one before it. Get up, go to work, come home, dadadadadetc etc. Until the night I found myself doing some serious soul-searching. And I realized my soul had been searching for me.

Tucked away was the wisdom of my childhood. I never had time for it until that night. That night the pieces of my life were dusted off and pushed through the clutter of my memories. I suddenly realized that wisdom does not naturally come with age. Age will sometimes slow us down so that we can return to that we had forgotten. If I had clung to the wonder of it all ,I would have saved the world and myself a great battle and the change would not have taken place.

For this world is not how it has always been and you will find it difficult to believe. That is unless you remember, and some of you will, someday. Do you share a world with a cat? Just an ordinary cat? There is no such thing as an ordinary cat! You either hate them or you love them. If you are fortunate enough to be loved by a cat, you are indeed special. For cats have the ability to see into our very souls. This is why some of you hate them, or if you know such a person, avoid them.

I have had a glimpse into the true world of cats, or should I say worlds. For that is what cats do, you know, travel between worlds. They live in a higher plane of existence than you and me. And for one brief flicker of time I was made privy to their secrets.

It all began when "they" started hunting the cats. "They" being the destroyers of worlds beyond their control. Well, really it started a much longer time ago, but I will explain all that later. Most of you do not remember the "Great Cat Kill". You don't remember because it never happened. Or rather it was undone before it began.

Okay, now I'm confusing you. Let me start where my role in this drama began. Read this story carefully and the next time "Fluffy" or "Felix curl up on your lap or at the foot of your bed, remember the price they paid to be there.

My father hated cats with a passion. Which is ironic because a farm needs a good cat to keep the rodent population down. I never understood why he preferred those finger- catching traps he set over the patience and skill of a good mouser. I've seen him angrily sling a trap off his thumb and order me to "set the damn thing!"

I, on the other hand, adored cats. Many strays found their way to our farm and I never questioned how or why. I just did my best to hide their presence from my dad. My mom was a good accomplice in this. Especially if it was a mommy cat and her babies. I knew that sooner or later dad would discover them and they would go on a one-way trip.

When I broke free of my father's restraints, about cats and other things, I bought into all those fantasies of the young and stupid. I used to rise and face the day eager to see what new adventures awaited me. I believed the "I love yous" and all the "happily forever afters". I didn't realize that love is just a trick mother nature plays on young women to get them to bear children. Why else would anyone go through such agony to satisfy some deep-programmed desire to procreate?

It takes some people a bit longer to undergo a reality check. I was one of those people. Two marriages and one "relationship" into the fantasy and I finally woke up. At the age of forty, I was living my last illusion and my final contribution to the population explosion was born. I named her Michelle and she was to be my anchor to a world I no longer fit into. She was my reason for getting up in the morning and my one inspiration to remain in this life.

I can't lay blame to anyone or anything for my miserable existence, except for the choices I made in life. I seemed to be attracted to that sort of man who abused, controlled or used me. Usually it was all three. I married two of them and entered into a relationship with a third. Though my life had been less than gratifying, I always had an adoring pet at my side. Yes, a cat.

I have heard men referred to as animals and have always believed this was an insult to animals. All my cat ever asked for was a little food, a litter box, and love. I have had many cats, over the years, and highly prefer their company to any man. If cats raised men, it would be a better world.

Children, now, are a different kind of love. They were worth all the misery I experienced. I guess that is the true miracle of life. Still, I wish there was more to the dream that I could reassure my little ones that their world would be a better place. Money won't assure it. Not that I have any to speak of. The most monetarily valuable item in my possession is a fur coat some great aunt had tailored . I never knew her, but I assume she had more money than taste. Why didn't she pass on some of that money instead of a damn fur coat that no body will wear? It hangs in closets or sits in mothballs until someone passes it on to the next deserving soul. I do not know what kind of fur it is. I don't care. I hate fur, period. As far as I'm concerned, fur belongs in one place, on the animal that was born with it. I just don't want to betray my mother's good intentions and let the thing start shedding. I promised to "take care of it." I figure I'll give it to whichever one of my daughters that pisses me off the most.

Why? The universal question. I could ask myself why to infinity and they would all be answered the same. Choices. Mostly the wrong choices. Choices dictated by emotions, not intellect. Dreams? Who has time for dreams? Not when your days are filled up with just doing what it takes to provide for one more important than yourself. Self is the last thing on your mind, until self doesn't function as it once did.

My body was beginning to betray me. The headaches were getting worse and the tilting of the ground I walked upon more frequent. Every test known to man was inflicted upon my body. No reason, for my present condition revealed its self. Doctors look at me as though I'm insane. So, I take pain relievers and walk with all the control I can muster. By the end of the day I'm so exhausted I have no desire to pursue dreams. I have even ceased to remember my nocturnal dreams. I only look forward to the day I can rest, from my task of raising this child I love. Seven more years to go.

The night I woke free of pain and looking down at my own body made me realize that even a body racked with pain was preferable to leaving my child behind. As I stood there trying to find a way back into that body, little did I know how much my world was about to change.


I turned to see who or what had been sent to guide me to wherever I was going now that I was dead. I only saw my cat, Precious.

"Come on now," Precious said. "We have work to do. We can't hang around here all night!"

"I-I can't go!" I blurted. "Who will take care of Michelle?"

Precious tilted his head to one side," the cats, of course," he said. "At least until you're ready to come back."

"Come back? How do I come back from the dead ?"

"Oh, now I see, you think you're dead. No, not dead, more alive than you have ever been. No, no, my friend, you have finally answered my call, that's all."

"Answered your call?"

"It would have been much easier on you if you had realized your destiny before you went through all that hell. We've been calling you since the day you were born. You were too busy conforming to human ways to hear. Sorry, we had to inflict a bit of pain to wake up that which lay dormant so long."

"The headaches, the dizziness, you did that?"

"No, you did that. The pain came from us knocking down those barriers to your soul."

"I thought you said I was not dead. If this is my soul separated from my body, then I'm dead."

"Who said your soul is separated from your body? Look, your body still breathes. When will humans ever learn the body is a shell, the soul lives to eternity, it is the spirit that can be broken or salvaged."

"Spirit, soul, are they not one and the same?"

"Spirit is what you are in this life, in this body that now houses the eternal soul. You have had many bodies, but one soul. Your spirit is the essence of this existence."

For some reason I understood completely. It was as if I had always known, yet so much was not clear to me. I was struggling to grasp what was reaching for me through the fog between this reality and the one I had been living.

"Come," said Precious, "we must go now. Your body and soul will wait here until you return."

Precious began to purr and those things around me began to shimmer and fade. Suddenly I was on solid ground, again. But this was no world I recognized. It was dark and cold, as if the light of all that was good had gone out of it.

"Where are we?" I whispered.

"One world, where cats are no more," Precious answered. "We must not stay here long, but it is the only way to get where we must go. Hang on now, for we slip sideways into that place we go next."

Precious jumped onto my shoulder and dug his claws into my flesh. His purring tripled in rhythm and volume and I felt myself being pushed through an opening my eyes could not see. For a spirit, I sure experienced the pain of our journey. I fell screaming into yet another strange world. But this world was bright and green. It smelled of unspoiled meadows and pollution free streams.

"Sorry," Precious said. "Birth is always painful."

I was looking around at this wonderland. "Birth? Since when does one get born fully-grown ? One is born stark naked , screaming and kicking, as an infant."

Precious did something I had no idea cats could do. He laughed. "Behold," he chuckled, " it is the moment of your birth. An apt description, for you are as an infant to the ways of this world. And did you not enter it kicking and screaming?"

"Yes, but I am not na---," Then I looked down at myself and indeed I was naked.

"Where are my clothes?" I asked.

"Why where else would they be, but in that world to which they belong."

I turned to see another talking cat. An old friend of mine, Grizzly. He was a yellow and orange tabby that left me after only five years. My veterinarian said someone had poisoned him.

"Grizzly," I shouted. "I have missed you so much! Even though I love Precious with all my heart, I still grieve for you."

"I know you do. I wish I could have stayed longer, but your world is slowly being overtaken by the same evil that destroyed that other one you passed through."

"Where there are no cats? What happened there and just where and what IS there?"

"That is what your world will become, if the evil is not stopped. It is one of many possibilities. But it is becoming more of a certainty with each passing day. If not for the cats it would already be your world's reality."

I struggled to remember, " I'm not clear on what it is you are saying. Is it our future or our past ?

"To some it is the past and shall remain so. To others it is but a shadow of the future. And while it is yet a shadow it can be changed. But only those with special skills can change it."

Once I had confirmed that I was not dreaming all this, Precious began to explain.

" Cats are the guardians of worlds. Two objects cannot occupy the same space, at the same time. One world must die. For every beginning there is an ending and a new beginning follows the end. There are those who would defy their own endings. To do this they escape into other worlds and destroy them. To enter in sufficient numbers they must perpetrate the destruction of cats from that world. You see, cats detect their presence, and return them to their own worlds.

Others, like you may enter into places, assisted by us, of course, to help tip the scales back into balance every few hundred years. Your soul has seen many battles. Past memories remain tied to the soul, but this existence clouds the memory until it is needed. It is then the soul strives to awaken the spirit of the Fixer."

"And I'm a Fixer?" I asked.

"For want of a better word," Precious replied. "You have a special quality, the light of a pure spirit that has grown immune to the perils of your world."

Now, I understood how a spirit could be broken. Had my own life not been filled with disillusionment?

"Yes," Precious said, " when their numbers are great enough, they can control some events, in the lives of those they know to be fixers. Constant misfortune distorts the spirit's vision and rendering it incapable of fulfilling its destiny."

"This is why my dad hated cats?" I asked. "Was he a defer?"

"No, your father was one of the fixers. He was so tormented, by those around him, the spirit misunderstood the soul's memories. He felt the pain of his soul's memories struggling to get free, when the cats came to protect you. In his confusion cats became a bad luck omen. The defers saw to this by all the supposed misfortune that occurred when a cat was around."

The defiers have only the ability to distort reality within the lifespan of its host. They must occupy a human host, for that is their original form. Most defiers are drawn from their hosts and made to reside in the cat, until it is carried back to its own world. Some put up such a struggle that both defier and host(the cat) are trapped between worlds. No body or soul may escape the Between. That is until thirteen fixers are gathered to purge the Between."

"Purge?" I asked. "Like in cleanse?"

"Totally." Precious answered. "There is no escape only death will release those trapped there."

At that moment I noticed a second cat had slipped in beside us. A familiar looking orange tabby now walked on my left.

"Grizzly!" I screamed. "I have missed you so much! My veterinarian told me you were poisoned. I'm sorry I let them put you to sleep, but he said you were suffering and that you would die anyway. I didn't even get to say goodbye. By the time I got there you were gone."

Grizzly looked up at me with those same adoring eyes. "Yes," he said, "I was poisoned. But you need not feel guilty about ending my suffering, for I was in terrible pain. You released me from all that and I am grateful. I have been back many times since."

Suddenly both cats came to an abrupt halt. Ahead of our path was a shimmering gate, heavily guarded by cats of every size and color. As we approached the gates swung open and revealed a long hall. At the end of this hall sat a huge statue of a black cat.

"Our leader, Bast ," Grizzly said.

" If I remember correctly, Bast was the cat god worshiped by ancient Egyptians," I said.

"Yes," the statue said, "ancient Egyptians were witness to our special abilities." They called on us when misfortune struck. And by the way it was a Goddess, they worshiped. They did not fully comprehend what was really happening. Our numbers were few and we did little to disillusion them. I, myself, handled many of the powerful defiers."

This was no statue, but the living, breathing queen of all cats. I was in awe to be in her presence. I hung on her every move, her every word.

"The between is overflowing into your world, again. The shadows are getting strong enough to begin the persecution of all cats, there. In your time you have seen it. Even children's stories and cartoons make cats to be villains. If not stopped that world , you passed through, will become your reality. We were fortunate enough to be able to gather the thirteen fixers to purge the Between, in a time before the great cat slaughter."

"Will I return to my own body, in my own world, when this is over?" I asked.

Bast lowered her massive head, "yes, for you have one that needs your direction and love. Michelle has a special talent and destiny. She will help protect the cats until their numbers increase and the memory, of who they are, returns. They will be very vulnerable until this happens. LET us do this thing."

The thirteen joined hands as the cats ran faster and faster, around them. The fixers lifted into the air and were transported to the between. Only the screams of the damned pierced the darkness and other than the hands I held tightly in mine, all I felt was a terrible hopelessness. A bright light shone from the spinning circle of fixers and filled the darkness. In an instant the light was gone and I was back in my own body, in my own world.

To reassure myself I ran to Michelle's room and drew relief from her sleeping face. Something stirred beside her. It was a tiny black kitten.

"Mommmmm?" Michelle rubbed her eyes as she sat up and blinked at the kitten by her side. "Where did SHE come from?"

I took the kitten in my arms, "I think I have a pretty good idea," I said. "What should we call her?"

Michelle reached for the tiny ball of fur. "Princess, I think.

I smiled down at my daughter. "Princess sounds like an apt name, to me." But I thought, Bast would be more like it. Of course princesses do grow up to be queens.

Precious rubbed his head on my heel. I picked him up and gazed into his eyes. I realized he no longer held the memory of who he really was. But I will never forget, that if not for the cats our world would not exist much longer.

"I promise," I said to Precious, "I will teach Michelle of your kind and she and others will protect the cats until your numbers and memories return."

So if you know someone who hates cats, stay far away from them and guard your pets. For your world would not be so pleasant if not for the cats. Indeed, you would know the true definition of insanity, for it would blot out your world as you know it.

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