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

Popular Right Now

To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

6 Ways To Save Money As A Broke College Student

Money saving tips so you can afford adult life while also paying for an expensive tuition.


It is difficult to work, attend college, and make all your payments on rent, tuition, and bills, (not to mention finding a little money to spare on yourself). These are six ways to save that have helped me in this money stressful time and that you should use too in order to reduce the expenses of adulting.

1. Saving money on rent.

Apartments are cheaper than houses because most include some of the bills in the rent cost. Make sure to check what amenities apartments offer such as free wi-fi, trash removal, or water included. When choosing roommates the more the better for cost. You should get at least one roommate because it is difficult to afford even a studio apartment living on your own. If you want pets you should choose a place that doesn't have pet rent because even if you have a large non-refundable pet fee it is cheaper in the long run then paying twenty a month per animal.

2. Saving money on bills.

If you choose to live in an apartment complex, having an apartment on a higher floor will make your electric bill cheaper in the winter because heat rises. Even though your electric bill will be higher in the summer you can afford to work more because classes won't be in session. When purchasing light bulbs get ones that are energy efficient and use lights with batteries to help save on the electric bill. Also make sure to turn off all lights when you aren't in the room. You can save water by not running the faucet when you brush your teeth. Anyway you can think to conserve water and energy use that to your advantage.

3. Saving money on food.

Your best friend is buying in bulk when you go to get groceries. I personally buy ten pound ground beef logs, cut them up, and place them in the freezer to use later. Everything is cheaper when you buy in bulk and you save time grocery shopping. If you don't know how to cook now is the time to learn because frozen and fast food eats up your money. You should also go to your local food bank if you are really struggling because everyone has to eat. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Going without food to pay your rent is not something anyone should have to do.

4. Saving money on furniture.

You should buy used if at all possible when finding furniture for your apartment or house. Living in a college town has its perks because people are constantly moving you can find great deals at garage sales or on craigslist. For instance I got my couch for free, I just had to move it out of a graduating students apartment. You can also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in your town.

5. Saving money on entertainment.

There are a lot of deals and discounts for college students so take advantage of that for entertainment.. For example movie theaters usually offer a student discount and if you go to a matinee showing, tickets are even cheaper. Find out when your local bar's happy hour is and use it. Also see what meal deals are offered by restaurants around you, such as 3 items for 10 or specials on Thursday nights. You can also use apps to find coupons, my personal favorite being pocket points because it rewards you for studying.

6. Saving money and side hustles.

Put back money during the summer in order to have a backup fund for when things get crazy busy during the school year. Scope out banks and find out what interests they offer on savings accounts in order to increase the amount of money you have saved over the years. If you need extra money you can get paid for donating plasma and you can sometimes find research studies that will offer participants cash for things as simple as just an opinion. There are also baby sitting and pet sitting apps you can download to get one time gigs if you are low on funds for the month.

These are all great tips that I have been taught or have learned living as a broke college student. It isn't easy living life in the adult world and pursuing a degree at the same time. I hope these tips will help you save money and keep you out of hard times.

Related Content

Facebook Comments