Today is Cat Herders Day. According to DaysOfTheYear.com, “A day for those of us who feel like we’re tasked with the impossible, Cat Herders Day recognizes the frustration of trying to manage the unmanageable. Whether it’s work, home, school, or other areas of life, if it feels like herding cats, today’s your day.”

The idea of herding cats was popularized by information technologies expert Dave Platt when he said, “Managing senior programmers is like herding cats.” In one of the funniest TV ad ever, Electronic Data Systems made a cat herders commercial that aired during Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000.

So why is herding cats such an impossible feat? Ever tried to force to kitties to do anything? According to IT professionals, programmers as well as cats are independent, solitary creatures who are easily distracted. (I can say the same thing about spouses, kids, and coworkers.)

Because Christmas is near, today we can imagine what would happen if Santa Claus chose cats to power his sleigh instead of reindeer. What a workday that would have been! On a six-cat sled team, four kitties would run in different compass directions, another one would take a nap and one would hiss at Santa.

Imagine the catnip-powered sleigh scenario:

  • Instead of Rudolph’s a red nose to illuminate the way, Santa would use a laser pointer to get them to run in the same direction.
  • At Santa’s workshop, the cats would play with gift wrapping. Inevitably, one would swallow a ribbon. Mrs. Claus would have to rush him to vet to have it surgically removed.
  • Cats would refuse to land on roofs of homes with barking dogs.
  • It would take forever to deliver all the packages because the cats would want to sniff Santa’s breath when he returned smelling of cookies and milk.
  • The presents of naughty children would be decorated with hairballs.
  • While Santa was down the chimney depositing gifts, the cats would leave deposits of their own on the roof.
  • People who are allergic to cats would sneeze when they open their packages.
  • Occasionally a cat would sneak down the chimney in Santa’s sack and bring down the Christmas tree.
  • Santa would have to call off present delivery when that same kitty chewed a string of lights and had to visit the local animal ER for mouth burns.

So here’s the takeaway from all of this. Using cats as propulsion won’t solve our energy problem, but the next time you need to get IT professionals (or anyone for that matter) to work together, get out the laser pointer. If it makes cats move in the same direction, maybe it will work on people … or not.

Happy Cat Herders Day. Now go do something impossible.

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