The Horrifying Moment I Realised that My Cats Are Not Sentient

The Horrifying Moment I Realised that My Cats Are Not Sentient

They know as much about the world as a slab of concrete knows about Descartes.

I live with two cats. When I leave for work in the morning they sleepily blink on the pink cushions in the living room, as I say goodbye and wish them a pleasant day. When I return from work they sleepily blink on the same pink cushions, as I ask them how their day was. I am fully aware that raising their heads to look at me is the first thing the lazy shits have done since I left that morning.

Their laziness doesn't bother me. They wouldn't be cats without that trait. What does bother me is that they never respond verbally! They just stare at me in rude silence, ignoring my questions.

Once I had become tired of their apathy towards me, I decided to do some research. After reading up about this phenomenon on the internet, I discovered that I was not alone and that it wasn't actually their fault for not responding. It turns out that cats (alongside everything else non-human) are completely unaware of basically everything (including my attempts to communicate with them) because they are not "sentient."

Well, this was a massive blow to me. There I was each night with my wine-stained lips, talking to my cats about the ups and (mainly) downs of my life, squeezing them tightly for some kind of connection as the moldy, red grape juice pushed the salty wetness from my eyes. It would be an understatement to say that it hurt me to find out that they were no more consciously present than the sunken, cracked wall that I rested my poor head against.

Now I regard them as living ornaments, taxidermy items with agency to move. But what agency? Enough to beg for food, rip holes in my sofa, awaken me with farts as the sun rises, but not enough to say, "thanks, Cleary, I hope you have a pleasant day as well." And without that, final, crucial aspect of being, how can I know that their movements through this world are not as meaningless as a leaf caught in a light summer's breeze?

I still feed them and tend to their needs, but when I look into their eyes I might as well be staring at a piece of soggy cardboard. Instead of confiding in those walking bread-bins, I have retreated to the window of electronic light in my 3am brain-blurs: the chat-room. As the succulent red liquid is decanted from the bottle to my stomach, more and more tear-jerking paragraphs based on my life form into the small chatbox window. Déjà vu hits me when nobody responds directly to them, but I am at least consoled by paragraphs that are similar to my own from other users.

C4tb3Tr4yed42 is the only person I've added to my friend's list so far. As usual, we never respond directly to each other, only with equally long and winding grammerless stories of our own life's unfair bitterness. She took it a lot harder than me when she found out that her cat's biological make-up made it impossible for it to understand a word that she was saying. She told me about the "consciousness tests" that she tried on her cats in order to prove that they could understand her. None of her trials were successful.

Last week was the last time she came online. Her tales that night were particularly frantic, sentences fragmented like broken blinds half blotting out the sunset through the dirty window of a London high-rise. She used to be on every night. Rumours around the chat-room are that she was submitted to a mental asylum. The loss of her cat's sentience brought hers with it, it seems.

That's why I wrote this article, for C4tb3Tr4yed42 and all those in her position. No matter how hard it is to come to terms with the fact that your cats literally don't understand a single word that you're saying, you have to stay strong and find professional help if you need it. I found my new place to confide in the dark recesses of online chat-rooms. It's up to you to find yours. Sentience needs sentience.

Cover Image Credit: Cleary Mallard

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.

Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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The yearning for a place and people beyond the reach of my fingertips.


For those born and raised outside the borders of the United States, have you ever found yourself going about your daily life and thinking back to your home-county? With all of your favorite and most vivid memories rushing in without much warning, sending you on a rollercoaster of emotion. The ups, the downs, the everything in-between. The life you used to live is now playing itself back in front of your very eyes, and I can't help but feel homesick.

No matter how many years are now separating me from the time I lived in my home country, I will always feel saddened knowing I no longer live there. Yes, I have lived in the United States for more than half of my life, occasionally flying back home to visit family, and yet I always feel as if a small part of me remains on the other side of the world. That small part is what makes me yearn to fly back home-and stay there-, to be reunited with all of my family, and to be surrounded by the language of my people. I miss the way the food tastes; how tap water is better than any bottled water I've had in the states. How the mountains surrounding the city always make for a beautiful view no matter where I'm standing. I miss the guitar players and dancers who light up the city streets with culture and character. Most of all, I miss how much joy I find around me, and within me, when I am back home. There is something indescribable, almost magical, in the way my soul reacts when I step foot off that plane and back into my roots. It's as if the Earth itself grabs hold of me, and brings me close into a tight embrace. As if my home missed me just as much as I missed it. Whether I've been gone for eight years, or two, the unfamiliar quickly becomes familiar, and it feels like I never left. Like I can ask for a refund on my roundtrip flight because I have no desire to fly back to the states.

I feel homesick at the most random times. I could be out with my friends or buried deep in homework, but the memories of home will always find themselves back to me. I get sad for a little while, and it sucks that I cannot snap my fingers and find myself back home in an instant. Nevertheless, I reminisce on the good times and send a prayer up into the skies so I can go back home once more.

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