It’s been awhile since we did a Voreslang, and it occurred to us this week that — like parents with children — we have invented our own language for our cat, Scooter Thomas. What follows is a primer for communicating with any feline who reads Proust.
“Be sweet.” A command against potentially bad behavior. Usually delivered when Scooter Thomas’s ears go back and his tail begins twitching furiously. If ST chooses to obey this order, he will commonly resort to “licks” (see below). If not, he will launch a furious attempt to draw blood by piercing our skin with his incisors.
“Climbing Mount Mew.” The act of lying on top of us in bed. Usually the summit of Mount Mew is our back, shoulders or, occasionally, forehead. This gesture is Scooter Thomas’s way of saying, “You probably already suspect I’m on the bed with you, but I’m going to make it absolutely clear by positioning myself as close to your head as possible and purring like a train.”
“Foods.” Anything Scooter Thomas eats, but almost exclusive IAMS Indoor Weight & Hairball Care dry food. E.g., “Why is this the third time he’s climbed Mount Mew this morning and it’s only five thirty? I bet he’s out of foods.” Note: “Foods,” while plural, applies to anything ST ingests, even if it were a single steak, Eggs Benedict, pie or beef jerky.
“A Good Spot.” The final resting place after countless minutes of kneading, rotating and scouting any surface on which to recline. Usually occurs on a couch or bed but occasionally takes place on a carpet, coffee table, the kitchen floor or Trader Joe’s Double Wide Cat Scratcher.
“Green Mouse.” Scooter Thomas’s favorite toy, aside from his Kitty Hooch mouse. He likes to spend time with Green Mouse by sitting on it. This is referred to as “getting Green Mouse.” ST’s other expression of love toward Green Mouse is to stomp on it repeatedly with one of his back paws before rolling over and biting Green Mouse’s head.
“Kitten Loaf.” A polite expression alluding to ST’s girth. E.g., upon spotting Scooter Thomas sprawled out on the bed, “Oh my. It appears we have some Kitten Loaf fresh out of the oven.” This is a slight variation on “Turkey Mew” (below) — both amplify the resemblance of ST’s torso to any dense, substantive food product.
“Licks.” ST’s gesture of apology for not “being sweet.” After latching on to our forearm, for example, we ask if he will give us some licks. He almost always complies, unless he exhales a short, quick burst of air and then bolts away, presumably to plot the eight locations at which he will soon vomit.
“Mr. Mew” (pronounced “Mee-yoo”), “Mr. Bew” ( “Bee-yo0”), “Mr. Shmew,” “Mewey Mew,” “Mew Buttons,” “McMewber” (rhymes with “McGruber”), “Sweet Boy,” “Sweet Mew” (or “Sweet-lovin’ Mew”), and “Kittens.” All nicknames. We rarely address Scooter Thomas by his proper name. “Kittens,” while plural, refers to the singular ST. We also — but only in the sweetest, most cooing voice possible — sometimes call him “Assface” to amuse ourselves.
“Mr. Owl.” Scooter Thomas’s nickname when he flattens his ears and looks perturbed. A fun game we play involves commentating on ST’s animal classification when he repeatedly flattens and unflattens his ears in a short period of time. This game is informally referred to as “Owl, Kitten, Owl,” and can go on for as long as five minutes.
“So bad.” The most common descriptor for Scooter Thomas’s behavior at any given moment. E.g., “I’ll be home tonight at 7. What are you and The Mew up to until then?” “Well, Kittens is being so bad.” “What else is new?” The “so” is important as it differentiates basic misconduct from full-blown malfeasance. It is usually pronounced “so” rather than merely “so.”
“Turkey Mew.” The resting position in which Scooter Thomas resembles — in position and girth — a Butterball turkey. This position is on his stomach with the front paws tucked underneath his chest and his shoulder blades and rear haunches resembling, respectively, wings and legs. (See here for an approximation of what this looks like. It will help if you visually substitute a cat’s head.)