The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 2, 2012

Warning: Get ready for the apawcalypse

By Kelly Kazek
kelly@athensnews-courier.com

. — Dec. 21, 2012. Mark the day on your calendars.

Don’t freak out – it’s not the end of the world.

It’s much worse. I am convinced the Mayans ended the world’s calendar on that day because they knew what I have figured out in recent weeks: On that fateful day, humans will no longer be the dominant beings on earth.

We will be ruled by … cats.

Look, don’t blame the messenger. The signs are all there.

• Leaving dead animals on your doorstep. You thought this was a “gift?” Or perhaps a sign that your feline, knowing what an inept hunter you are, brought you dinner so you wouldn’t starve? Nope.

It’s a threat. The horse head of suburban life, if you will.

Ignore this warning at your own peril.

• Kneading your tummy. Like most of you naïve souls, I used to think this was cute. Adorable, even. Shannon and I would say the cat was “making biscuits.”

Then I realized what the cat was actually doing: Checking to see if I am “fattening up” at an acceptable rate. I no longer wonder who’s been leaving Hershey’s Kisses with the tiny teeth marks on my pillow at night.

• Jumping in alarm whenever you approach from behind. Admit it. You have laughed dozens of times at the site of your cat leaping toward the ceiling — claws extended, legs splayed — when you enter a room and surprise it. Big mistake. That cat wasn’t flinching. It was trying to distract you from the fact that you caught it gathering intelligence.

Then, last week, came the biggest sign of pending doom: The well-respected Walker Art Center in Minneapolis took what I believe to be one of the final steps in the imminent Cat Takeover by airing the first Internet Cat Video Film Festival.

While organizers said they held the festival to celebrate the “cultural phenomenon” of the popularity of online cat videos, those of us in the news media know the underlying reason: Humans are being cat-washed — and I don’t mean by little sandpapery tongues.

Think about it. More than 10,000 people, some dressed as cats and others with pet cats on leashes, attended the outdoor festival that showed some 70 short online cat videos on a large screen. Sure, people were “awwwing” and laughing, probably wiping a sentimental tear or two, but this was all part of the ee-vil plan of the Feline Underworld, or FU for short.

Why do you think it is called a “catastrophe?”

“Cataclysmic?”

Catfish?” Well, maybe that last one not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a cat hater.

I happen to be the proud servant to three cats, Charley, and my two grandkitties that just came home from Auburn because Shannon’s roommate is allergic.

And then there’s Lucy the Beagle, who is there for comic relief and to give the cats something to torture while I am at work all day.

And I, like most people, have LOL-ed at LOLcats.com and grinned at the sight of ninja cats. Probably, in the backs of our minds, we knew we enjoyed the laughter a little more the day after cleaning up the cat’s vomit from the carpet or being awakened at 4 a.m. with demands for food.

We thought we were having the last laugh.

Now I know this is what the cats wanted. They were lulling us into a false sense of security by allowing us to think that, at infrequent moments over the millennia, they let their guards down and their air of superiority was punctured.

It’s propaganda, people.

As they watch us laugh at the cat riding the invisible bicycle, they are really thinking: “I still have nine lives. Your only one is almost over…“

In fact, I think the FU is responsible for spreading the myth that Al Gore developed the Internet Superhighway. Cats wanted to draw attention from the fact that some cat geek had discovered how to finally take over the human realm. It would just be a matter of time.

As blogger David Burge has said: “When John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry developed the first digital computing machine at Iowa State University in 1937, little did they know that their invention would become an integral part of a sophisticated worldwide cat picture distribution system.”

But the cats knew.

And now, so do you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now excuse me while I remove the squirrel’s head from my pillow.

Thanks to Pete Woodward, who shared a similar "nine lives" comment on my Facebook page. Send comments to Kelly Kazek at kelly@athensnews-courier.com and join her Friday and Saturday for a writers conference in downtown Athens, where you can bid on a book and lunch date.