Conversations with my cat

Conversations with my Cat Rinpoche

Rinpoche’s rocky road to becoming Chief Cat of the House: 

Those of my readers who’ve read my book, Nine Lives, will understand the importance attached to being the Chief Cat of the House. Normally this position goes to a hefty, responsible, and fierce tabby, determined to protect the homestead against all evil. The Chief Cat must be in possession of good inter-feline skills and be an intuitive organizer and leader. The Khat Khouncile – as is the wont of councils everywhere – has developed a process for this, and they host an exam for candidate Chief Cats. This is mainly so they can levy a Mouse Tax on the Chief Cats; successful sitting of the exam for a Chief Cat is actually not mandatory under Khat Lore or Tabby Lore. It’s rather like having a driving license in Egypt. Predictably, the Khat Khouncile doesn’t help prepare the candidates with any useful training, and this is left to the cat candidate and their human household staff.

After the sad demise of our cat Butch, we’ve been left with only one cat, a sweet, foolish and quixotic little white and black girl named Rinpoche, aka Scooter or Patheticus. Her training took place over several weeks:

Conversations with my Cat

“Rinpoche, now that Choklit-Butch has gone to Tabithat in the sky, you’ll have to be Chief Cat of the House.”

chiefcatblog1pic1“Oh Daddi, I won’t know what to do…”

“Yes. But don’t shirk your responsibilities, and stop pretending to be pathetic. You need to go for Chief Cat training with Mrs Malaprop, like Humphrey did long ago. She’ll teach you everything you need to know to pass your Chief Cat exam with the local Khat Khouncile.”

“Daddi, Mrs Malaprop is dead.”

“Jeez, that’s too bad. I guess she was getting quite old…”

“No Daddi, she was killed when a wine press fell on her.”


“Now then Rinpoche, I have found a replacement tutor for you. He is is very clever and very thorough. His name is Dr. Ing Klaus Tröger and he is from Darmstadt in Germany. He will teach you everything a Chief Cat needs to know. Your first lesson with him is this afternoon. Make sure you are clean and your fur is soft and sleek. Dr Tröger hates sloppiness.”


“Rinpoche, why are you making that pathetic wailing sound?”

“I am full of woe, Daddi. I think I may fail the exam and disappoint Dr. Tröger.”


“I don’t think I can remember the coefficients for the first, second and third order Butterworth polynomials…”

RINPOCHE14“You can always derive them from first principles based on the angular spacing of the Butterworth poles in Fourier space.”

“I’d rather try and remember them, Daddi.”


“Today is your exam at the Khat Khouncile, Rinpoche. Can you remember everything you were taught by Dr. Ing Klaus Tröger?”

“Yes, Daddi. I have studied the European Union, the life of Leonardo da Vinci, Butterworth filter design, ancient Babylonian astrology, bilateral transformations, rocket propulsion fundamentals, and circular convolution.”

“Why do you have to learn all this stuff to be a Chief Cat?”

“I didn’t want to take any chances with the exam, Daddi. So I just asked Dr. Tröger to teach me everything he knows.”


“Why are you crying, Rinpoche?”

“I think I may have failed the exam, Daddi.”

“Did you forget the bilateral transformation or the Butterworth coefficients?”

“No Daddi, they didn’t ask me that.”

“What did they ask you?”

“They asked me how old I was.”

“And what did you answer?”

“I guessed 1000.”

“What else did they ask you, Rinpoche?”

“They asked me how many Bad Points I get if I kill one of Daddi’s chirrits: a robin.”

“And what did you answer?”

“I couldn’t remember, so I answered 20.”

“That’s wrong. For killing a Robin you get 100 demerits. 20 is for a sparrow.”

“Is there anything that’s worth more points than a robin, Daddi?”

“Many things. I’ll go get my tables.”

“So Rinpoche, here are the Bad Points tables:

Sparrow: -20 points
Tit: -50 points
Robin: -100 points
Black Cap: -100 points
Peewit: -100 points
Unidentified spherical bird: -100 points
Pheasant: -859 points
Great Spotted Woodpecker: -1000 points
Song thrush: -1250 points
Owl: -5000 points
Bald headed vulture: -10000 points

“And there’s a supplementary penalty of 30 points if you ambush a chirrit at the place where Daddi feeds them.”

“Daddi, what about squees?”

“Mice are free unless you bring them inside the house.”

“And squirrels?”

“Grey squirrels are +20 points, unless you bring them inside, in which case they are -20 points. Red squirrels are -5000 points no matter what you do with them.”


“You look very happy, Rinpoche.”

“Yes Daddi. I passed my exam for Chief Cat of the House.”

“Even though you got the question about the robin wrong?”

“Yes, Daddi. The Khat Khouncile said that knowing the life history of Leonardo da Vinci was worth 6391 robins.”



“Daddi, how many points do I get for being a Good Cat?”

“So Rinpoche, here are the Good Points tables:

Not biting Daddi or Mummi: 10 points
Purring: 10 points
Clean bowl: 10 points
Krinckle-krunckle (kneading): 10 points
Being soft and fleecy: 10 points
Trilling: 10 points
Being friendly: 10 points

“Daddi, so if I kill a Song thrush I would have to do all seven of those things nearly forever to make up for it?”


“Daddi, is there anything I can do to make up a lot of points in a short time?”

“Yeah, you can design a rocket for the European Union, using the principles of circular convolution of bilateral transforms within a framework of ancient Babylonian astrology, according to the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci.”

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