So Long, And
Thanks For All The Cat Food
Sandy and Blackpaw looked
up at me. Sandy meowed.
All you two cats ever
do is whinge for more food, I said to them.
Why dont you do something more useful
than just eating and sleeping? Millions of years
of evolution, and you havent even invented
They ignored my comments
and tucked into the food that I had put in their
It was some weeks later
that I glanced out of the kitchen window late one
evening to see what appeared to be a small fire
burning at the bottom of the garden. I went to
investigate. As I approached the flames, Sandy
and Blackpaw raced past me, back towards the
I reached a place where
several small rocks had been arranged in a circle,
although its diameter was no more than two feet.
In the middle of the ring was a tiny fire. A
simple wooden frame supported a spit over the
fire on which was tied a rat.
Must be fairies or
leprechauns living at the end of the garden,
I said to myself, whilst actually concluding that
the children next door had been watching too many
of Ray Mears bushcraft survival programmes
I thought little more of it
until about a month later when I set off down the
garden to clear some old bushes. The bushes were
obscuring the view of the fields beyond, and I
thought it would be nice to be able to see that
vista from the kitchen window.
As I reached the bushes, I
glanced through the branches and noticed Sandy
and Blackpaw in the next field. They seemed to be
pulling a small cart of some kind. If the
kids next door have tied them to that, I
thought, I will be very cross. As I
climbed over the fence to investigate, however,
Sandy and Blackpaw noticed me and ran away
without the cart. They had, therefore, been choosing
to pull whatever it was.
I picked up the small,
wheeled trailer. It was made from wood, and of
the sort of design that one saw in medieval
paintings. On the trailer were a number of flat
pieces of bark which seemed to have symbols and
drawings on them.
I thought domestic
cats were solitary animals, said my
neighbour, George, when I encountered him at the
village shop on the following day.
I think they tend to
be, I replied. What led you to think
Eric saw about a
hundred of them in that old barn at Glebe Farm.
a good supply of rats there, I suggested.
Eric said that they
were all sitting in a large circle and taking
turns to meow.
Eric may have had too
much of his home brew, I joked.
As I walked home, I began
to imagine a fantasy scenario of feline
development that was consistent with the recent
observations and reports. Two months ago I had
been joking that the cats never did anything but
eat and sleep. Then there had been some evidence
that they had might have discovered fire. Then
they seemed to have access to the wheel and
writing. Now there was a report of a large feline
gathering. Other things fitted this fanciful
theory too. For example, many local recycling
bins had been mysteriously emptied of what could
be useful raw materials for a developing
This was all, of course,
ridiculous. It had taken humans many thousands of
years to develop complex technologies. Cats could
not have got that far in four months.
Despite my scepticism, I
attempted to confront Sandy and Blackpaw at
feeding time that evening. Be honest with
me, I said. Have you mastered fire
and the wheel?
They ignored me in their
usual manner, and concentrated on eating.
I had no further time to
ponder on the issue as I had to leave for America
on a three month contract.
It was towards the end of
my stay in the States that I received an email
from George who had been feeding the cats while I
Ive got some bad
news, it read. Sandy and Blackpaw seem
to have gone. And its not just them. Nearly
every cat in the area has just vanished. The
police havent got an explanation. The only
odd thing about the night when they all
disappeared was lots of what looked like
fireworks rising into the night sky.
It was two weeks later when
I arrived back home. I had hoped that Sandy and
Blackpaw might have been there to greet me but,
sadly, they were not.
It was late, so I went
upstairs to make up the bed. There was a piece of
paper lying on it. It contained a diagram of
something that looked a bit like a space shuttle.
Below the picture were some neatly typed words:
So long, and thanks for
all the cat food.