It’s extremely difficult for me to sustain cat viewing all day every day. People want me to "go to work" and "talk to people" and "eat food," but over time, I’ve noticed that all this non-cat-viewing time stimulates the release of poisonous stress hormones, seeding my brain with tumors and cysts and casting me into a black pit of crippling despair. Focusing on photos and other images of cats, on the other hand, releases a flood of oxytocin, the body’s "love" chemical. People often say to me, "Brad, I am racked with existential despair. How can I redirect attention from my stark reality to images of cats?" Well, I’ve developed a few easy methods to maximize the time spent looking at cats and minimize the time spent looking at things that are not cats.
For one thing, the walls of my home are covered with paintings, photographs, and rough sketches of cats. Ceramic cat figurines blanket every table, counter, and mantel. On the floor, a dozen or so chronically obese cats (rescued from porches around the neighborhood) roam the carpeted landscape like furry hippos with little to no empathy for other living things. With all these cat images on every visible surface, even when my eye strays momentarily from icanhascheezburger.com, it can find refuge on a photo of two kittens poking their heads out of a pumpkin or a cat swiping a rainbow in outer space.
One time, I accidentally glanced at a blank patch of wall adjacent the refrigerator. This lapse resulted in a split second of extreme loneliness followed by manic depression followed by a 14-hour sadness nap. That patch of wall now has a photo of a cat swatting a Christmas ornament. "Merry Catmas!" reads the caption. Another time, I made the mistake of looking out the window at a sunset, but then it made me think of how I was living in the sunset of my life and resulted in another 14-hour sadness nap. Another time, I clicked on a porno movie, thinking it had cats in it — but no, it was human-only porn which made me feel lonely and require another 14-hour sadness nap.
I find it’s also emotionally enriching to revolve my life around a myriad of cat-themed image macro websites. Frequent updates means seeing greater quantities of new cat images more often. This increases my sense of overall satisfaction with life. By clicking through thousands of cat images each day, I can avoid thinking about how my life has become clicking through thousands of cat images each day. At one time, I had trouble going to the grocery store because of the limited number of cat images outside of the pet food aisle. Fortunately, I purchased a smart phone, so when I get anxious, I can gaze intensely at the image of ten kittens in a picnic basket before moving on to the ice cream sandwiches.
Work greatly hinders the steady ingestion of cat imagery. Employers seem mostly uninterested in cats, and they outright disapprove of decorating every corner of the office with cat posters. My boss monitored my Internet use closely after discovering I spent 35 hours per week watching YouTube videos of cats on trampolines. There are, however, ways to circumvent these draconian restrictions. For example, before I was fired, I found solace in three-hour lunch breaks spent staring at the cats in Petco’s animal adoption center. My productivity rose drastically following these cat observation sessions, so the reasons for my termination remain mysterious. Another tactic is to subscribe to as many lolcat chain newsletters as possible. Have a grandmother who sends chain letters of lolcats. Then when you’re checking your email for urgent job-related messages from clients and colleagues, you can also view cat images.
Never trust anyone. Sometimes people point things out to me and say, "Hey look at that cat over there!" and I look, but it’s not a cat. It’s a table or a landscape painting or an important document they need me to sign. Then they laugh and laugh as feelings of horror at being born into a cold unfeeling universe wash over me like a tidal wave of blood. Other times, people send me emails they claim contain cat images, but actually contain an animated gif of someone swinging his penis around in a circle. This also disrupts my soul’s fragile homeostasis. Do not have friends who are not cats. I think this goes without saying, but these people will try to talk to you and you will look at them, and their faces will not be cat faces.
Sometimes, I find myself in situations where no cat images are readily available: I’ve left my iPhone at home, I’m stuck at the DMV, or I’m involuntarily checked into some sort of state-run treatment center. It becomes necessary then to draw as many cats as possible as quickly as possible. If you can’t find a pen, focus your attention on the multitude of cat tattoos all over your body. If you don’t have any cat tattoos, close your eyes and imagine Santa coming down the chimney. Imagine he opens his sack to retrieve some gifts. Now imagine he pulls out, not a gift, but an adorable little white kitten wearing a miniature Santa hat. ‘That’s strange,’ thinks Santa. He reaches into the sack again, but oh no! — a thousand kittens come pouring out of the sack! Oh my, it’s going to be a merry merry Catmas this year!
Brad Pike is a writer and performer in Chicago. His writing has been featured on The Sixth Wall, Thought Catalog, The North Texas Review, and other places.