From the Point of View of a Cat by Karel Čapek

I read and enjoyed a few short stories by this Czech writer as a teenager, but the one that had stuck with me the most is this humorous and delightful story written from a feline point of view. I love the glimpses of genuine affection behind the arrogance.

This is my Man. I am not afraid of him. He is very strong, for he eats a great deal; he is an Eater of All Things. What are you eating? Give me some!

He is not beautiful, for he has no fur. Not having enough saliva, he has to wash himself with water. He meows in a harsh voice and a great deal more than necessary. Sometimes in his sleep he purrs.

Let me out!

I don’t know how he has made himself Master; perhaps he has eaten something sublime.

He keeps my rooms clean for me.

In his paws he carries a sharp black claw and he scratches with it on white sheets of paper. That is the only game he plays. He sleeps at night instead of by day, he cannot see in the dark, he has no pleasures. He never thinks of blood, never dreams of hunting or fighting; he never sings songs of love.

Often at night when I can hear mysterious and magic voices, when I can see that the darkness is all alive, he sits at the table with his head bent and goes on and on, scratching with his black claw on the white papers. Don’t imagine that I am at all interested in you. I am only listening to the soft whispering of your claw. Sometimes the whispering is silent, the poor dull head does not know how to go on playing, and then I am sorry for him and I meow softly in sweet and sharp discord. Then my Man picks me up and buries his hot face in my fur. At those times he divines for an instant a glimpse of a higher life, and he sighs with happiness and purrs something which can almost be understood.

But don’t think that I am at all interested in you. You have warmed me, and now I will go out again and listen to the dark voices.

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