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The Lies Issue

Kitty-cide

Tragically for cat-lovers, Chester is just a small drop of sad rain in an ever-expanding ocean of feline depression. A newly-identified condition dubbed Feline Reactionary Misanthrope Syndrome (FRMS) is affecting domestic cats throughout the United...
February 1, 2006, 12:00am

This picture was taken by this cat’s owners just after the gas oven incident. Photo by Jack Tate

(Update: We had this movie sent to us from a cat owner in Liverpool whose pet is starting to show symptoms of the disease.) “We found him perched on the oven with his little paw trying to turn the gas on. Instead of running away, which he normally does when we catch him being naughty, he stared at us with these sad eyes and looked into the oven and back again at us. He seemed to say, ‘Can you help me with this?’ It was heartbreaking. That’s when we decided to get him professional help.” This wasn’t the first time that Chester, a six-month-old shorthair kitten, had attempted suicide in his short life. Two weeks earlier, his owners, Jack and Sally Tate from Middlesbrough, found Chester apparently trying to drown himself in the toilet and, soon after, chewing through the electrical cord of a sitting-room lamp. Tragically for cat-lovers, Chester is just a small drop of sad rain in an ever-expanding ocean of feline depression. A newly-identified condition dubbed Feline Reactionary Misanthrope Syndrome (FRMS) is affecting domestic cats throughout the United Kingdom. According to a new report from Wales’ leading animal psychologist, Dr. Morgan Edwards, FRMS is occurring as a direct result of the increasing use of portable internet devices like BlackBerrys and wireless computers in the home. “The profile of an owner whose cat is likely to develop FRMS is that of a mid-20s, tech-savvy self-employed business person who often works from home,” explained Birkenhead from his holistic veterinary surgeon in Swansea. “Typically, these people are spending less and less time nurturing traditional relationships with their kittens. Before wireless services arrived in homes, owners developed loving relationships with their kitties by talking to them in high voices, playing with catnip mice on lengths of twine and flicking newspaper to mimic the sound of a mouse. Increasingly, the only fake mouse noises cats are likely to hear are the clicks of plastic desktop mouses and the listless prodding of iBooks and BlackBerry keyboards. “The more we use wireless devices for services like the internet, the less we’re likely to develop meaningful relationships with our fellow living beings. Cats are highly sensitive creatures, so they suffer most,” he said. “More pertinently, as Swiss pet psychologist Ziegfield proposed in his 1938 existentialist study, Lait de Sipping d'une Cuvette Vide, once a kitten is convinced its owners are not interacting with them on a deeply fulfilling level, for example, replacing affection and generous belly rubs with small talk and cheap attention, they become irrevocably misanthropic and depressed. Suicidal, you could say.” Now digital communication is commonplace, it seems cats and the owners who take them for granted are finally beginning to reap the harvest of death that the Egyptians sewed back at the beginning of civilisation when they worshipped cats as gods and made them wear the ancient equivalent of suits and ties. ANITA CRAPPER