Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cats And Children Are Winning the War on Terror

Recently eaten: spinach fettuccine, baked chicken
Recent annoyance: It's 70 degrees people, I think you can hold off on wearing the fleece

I read this article on today and it read like a page straight out my nightmare book, except that this nightmare has already come true. What do you think children have been scamming us with for years? Cuteness and helplessness. There are plenty of children that get by in the wild with just some grubs and a dead carcass to sleep in, yet, here we are, pawns in their sick game.

Cats Harbor Secret Plan to Turn Us Into Litter-Scooping Robots
One of my cats -- the one that has not yet appeared on I Can Has Cheezburger -- has developed an elaborate routine for getting me up to feed him in the morning. It involves a lot of meowing, jumping on things, knocking things over, and the occasional loud coughing up of hairballs. I can't prove that last bit is intentional, but I'm pretty sure it is.

If I had a real job I wouldn't have to set an alarm clock, but as it is I feel that this is a problem that I must solve, as I solve all my problems, with technology.

The technology in this case is an automatic cat feeder. Most of the automatic feeders on Amazon come with reviews detailing how the cats have managed to work around the DRM (dinner rights management) built into them.

No matter what lies between them and kibble, the cats manage to prod, pull and shove their way to an extra serving. I'm buying one anyway, because I have a Dremel tool, and somehow that convinces me that I can re-engineer the thing to outsmart the one primal urge a cat has left after being sterilized.

I already have an automatic water dispenser for the cats, and I'm thoughtfully eyeing one of those elaborate automatic self-cleaning litter boxes that scoops, flushes and sprays its interior with the delicate scent of live mice, the better to make it not just a litter box, but a space to exist. It occurs to me that with the proper application of money and floor space, you can get machines to take on most of the duties incumbent upon the cat owner.

For instance, any number of electronic cat toys will whip a fuzzy thing around so you can watch Best Week Ever without having to move any part of your body. Better yet, they make actual electronic mice. When I get that time machine working, I'm going to go back to colonial times and explain to a farmer that in the future, we go to the store and buy artificial vermin. I'm sure he'll enjoy thinking about that when he's not busy watching locusts eat his crops or burying his children.

This covers most of the services I provide to my cat, but not all of them. Let's start with the scratching and/or skritching. As far as I can see, this is between my cat and my hand, with very little participation from me. I just kind of stick out my hand and make a repetitive scratching movement, and my cat moves his head and neck around to his liking. I can even do it while playing Warcraft, provided the other people in my group don't mind dying for a cat's pleasure once in a while.

Really, though, there's no reason I couldn't substitute one of those robotic hands scientists build to prove that some day robots will be able to make shadow puppets. Just stick it on a "repetitive scratching motion loop" and the cat can go nuts, assuming he isn't terrified by the whirring and buzzing. On the other hand, fiction teaches us that a) most robots turn evil and b) most severed hands turn evil, so maybe this isn't such a good idea.

After that I only need to build a robotic lap -- I think that's called a "heating pad" -- and some sort of sweeper arm to knock the cat off my desk when he's being pesky, and then I'm set. Modern science has very nearly rendered human beings unnecessary when it comes to the life of a cat.

And you know, I can't back this up biologically, but I somehow suspect this is how the cats planned it all along. Time may prove that, evolutionarily speaking, we are simply a large and complex external cat organ, one given the duty of making itself obsolete.

I think, on some level, we know this. That's why so many stories and movies and TV shows are about robots replacing mankind. I think if you look carefully, somewhere in the corner of their austere mechanical fortresses, you'll see a cat box being scooped.

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