Jamie tapped his fingers against a wall as he thought about what kind of talk he was going to give his classmates when they got to class. He knew that he was going to talk about his pet, but he wanted his talk to be slightly different from the ones that were going to proceed it. The topic for the day was to talk about things that they held dear, and he knew that most of his classmates would be talking about their family, and maybe a favourite toy. Jamie did not want to talk about those predictable subjects, instead he wanted to talk about his little pet. He was pretty sure that both his teacher, and his classmates were probably going to laugh at him. Nobody considered their pet to be a priority in life, but Jamie felt differently.
When it was his turn to speak he sauntered to the front of his class and looked around.
“Jamie,” the teacher gently nudged her student as he stood there just staring into space. “Tell the class what it is that you hold dear.”
Jamie looked at the sea of unblinking eyes, and suddenly felt as though he had lost his confidence. Despite his sudden fear of what he was going to say, Jamie found himself carrying on. “I hold dear my… My pet.”
Silence descended among everybody present, before the predicted laughter began.
“Jamie,” the teacher said softly. “This is about the things that we hold dear, not the things that they do. You know they only see us as a possession rather than their equal.”
“It is true though,” Jamie floundered. “I think that I have some kind of special bond with my human.”
“That simply is not possible. I take it that they talk to you the same way that they talk to everybody else; you know, baby talk.”
“There you go. Your human is no different from the others, and certainly is not viewing you as an equal. You are simply a possession to them and nothing more.”
“There is more to it than that,” Jamie persisted his and. “A freely deep within me, and I just know that they would do anything to try and protect me.”
“Now you are just being silly,” said a tortoiseshell that was sitting on her haunches just in front of Jamie. “They’ll say that they’d love us whatever, and claim that they will do whatever it takes to keep us happy, and but we all know that it it’s just talk. It is a fact that we do not live as long as they do so we will just get replaced. You would be better off not thinking anything of your pet, except that they are food supply and that they will give you some attention along the way.”
“I know all of that, but I just know that there is something between me and my human. Not only will they do anything for me, but the feeling is mutual. If they are feeling sad, or need some kind of other attention, then I am going to give it them. I will play with them and I can see that they enjoy it as much as I do.”
“They certainly do not enjoy it when we take them in presents,” remarked a ginger tom.
“Mikey has never told me off for that.”
“Wait a minute, Jamie,” the teacher spoke after him. So closely, in fact, that it felt like she had interrupted him in some way. “You have given him a name?”
“But that is not allowed.”
“We do not own them, any more than they own us. Giving him a name is like branding your ownership, and we simply do not want to be anything like those that preside over us.”
“Mikey gave me a name.”
“Is it the name that you use?”
“I don’t think so, but I am not really sure because I do not actually speak human. Will we ever learn that? I would love to be able to communicate with my pet.”
The teacher shook her white head. “No. We will never learn to speak human, and they will never learn to speak cat. There is no communication between our kinds, and there never will be.”
“I am going to learn it,” Jamie told everybody listening. “One day I am going to speak to my Mikey, and then I will learn for certain whether or not the bond is true.”
“You must be very stupid,” said the tortoiseshell. “You will have wasted your entire lifetime to learn the language for no other reason than to prove yourself wrong. You should forget all about your pet and see what else life has to offer. I mean, there are toys, there are prey, there are moving red dots of light, there is cat food, and of course we have lots of sleep to be had. Why would you want to waste your time learning a language that will get you nowhere?”
“Who can say that it will get me nowhere?”
“It has been an ongoing experiment for many lifetimes now,” the teacher explained. “Nobody has got any closer to understanding the noises that those humans make. There are teams that work on this all of the time, and so far nothing has come of it. It is very unlikely that you would be able to achieve what entire teams of scientists have failed to do.”
“I feel like I owe it to Mikey.”
“We do not even give our humans loyalty. Remember, if we find something better out there than we are quite free to desert the people do think they own us.”
“That is never going to happen to me,” Jamie spoke with a feeling of conviction.
“You are a kitten yet, Jamie, so things may well change.”
“I know I love him.” Jamie fixed his green eyes on the small group in front of him. “My pet, Mikey, is what I hold dear.”