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MUKONO, UGANDA – So UCU’s Health and Safety Committee will clamp down on pets who “wander around the campus.” They’re to be vaccinated and kept “indoors.” Spot checks are coming.

My cat saw the recent memo. He was not impressed. An outdoor cat, he moped around, wouldn’t eat, and was a general pain in the behind for days. Finally he unloaded on me.

Promise you’ll never tie me down. Promise. Tell that committee that cats are born to roam.

I’ll do my best

We’re not dogs. Or chickens. Or wandering pigs, for heaven’s sake. God made us to be free.

Mmmm.

We’re like you journalists. You know the saying: trying to get a bunch of journalists together is like herding cats. Nobody can do it. Tell the committee.

I’ll do my best, Cookie.

First they go after our tree.

Cookie, that’s another committee.

Then they call me a dog.

They didn’t exactly say that.

What are they thinking?

Maybe they’re trying to protect you.

Protect me?

And protect themselves. Maybe they don’t want responsibility if you accidentally eat poison meant for wild dogs.

Why don’t they just say that?

Or maybe, Cookie, they’re not thinking of cats at all, but those chickens.

Indoor chickens? Why don’t they just say what they mean?

Committees can be funny things, Cookie.

First, they go after my tree. Now…

It’s not your tree, Cookie. And readers don’t know what you’re talking about.

Tell them.

Cookie, we did our best – all us neighbours – but we lost that one and you need…

Neighbours weren’t even informed.

Cookie, you need to…

Let the readers decide.

(Aside to reader – My cat is also in a huff over the slated destruction of a large, century-old Albizzia tree at UCU’s far-east side. Several residents recently expressed their concerns that the decision was based on incomplete information, but UCU’s Physical Infrastructure and Preservation Committee (PIP) voted to cut it down (and possibly a second Albizzia close-by), because PIP fears the tree may someday fall on a house to be built nearby. Cookie considers the Albizzia a sacred burial site, since her mother Jessie is laid to rest there.)

There. But in all respect, Cookie, technically you’re not a neighbour and you have no voice. You just have a little meow.

But the experts – the botanist from Makerere and the preservationist from the National Forestry Association – both said pruning and backfilling would easily keep that tree strong. We all know it’s not rocket science. So why the undue fear?

Yes, Cookie.

That Albizzia is God’s creation. It has decades of life left. It’s historic and supposed to be protected, according to PIP’s own document.

Yes Cookie.

And that letter from PIP to your lovely Madam Jean?

.

Yes Cookie, some things unfolded in a less than gracious fashion. But it’s over. The tree is coming down. You know, PIP’s chair wrote a kind apology to my madam. So let’s move on. We do, after all, all love each other and want what’s best for UCU.

Fine. But I’m fighting for cats everywhere. No house arrest. And no leash.

Yes Cookie.

And death to fear! No living like scared mice.

No fear, Cookie. Not like with Pouncer.

You remember that old dog?

I remember, Cookie.

Sure he chased me once. But then I realized that fear can be so silly.

As I recall it, Cookie, you saw Pouncer at every corner, in every shadow. You saw him in your bed. In your dreams. In your food dish. Pouncer was everywhere.

Sure. But then I read Victor Frankl.

The psychologist?

And the Bible, right where it says we’re not meant to live in fear, but with power and love and a sound mind.

Yes, that’s right Cookie. Thanks for the reminder.

Just tell them. No silliness. No leash. No fear.

Yes Cookie. Now just be happy. And get on withyour walk. Get going now.

Okay, I’ll do my best.