Boy, was I in trouble. I think it would have been worse if I hadn’t called my friends the day I left for vacation, which is exactly why I did that. But, man, give them two weeks to steam off and they were still mad.
And, okay, yeah, I deserved it.
When I got back, they demanded an accounting of exactly how much money their kitten had paid me out of their bank account for our sessions and how often. They didn’t need to. I’d spent half my vacation angsting about the whole thing and had all my documentation prepared by the time we met in their living room.
This wasn’t just some strategy to placate them and get out of trouble. I’d had a lot of time to think during vacation, and I couldn’t escape the fact that what I’d done was wrong. For someone who spent a lot of time and energy trying to ignore my conscience when it suited me, it was sure uncomfortable having it yelling at me from three inches away.
Consciences really need to learn a thing or two about personal space.
It also bugged me that I hadn’t gotten back to the kitten about its email when it found out what I did. Fuzzy as it is, that thing can be darn intimidating.
But now I couldn’t talk to it. My friends had made sure of that.
“Why would our kitten even need a psychologist?” asked the one with the green shirt. (I may be a coward, but even I know to keep my friends’ identities private online. You’re welcome, friends.)
“It’s sentient. Even humans find that uncomfortable, and we’re supposed to be that way.”
They didn’t appreciate the joke.
“How could you take advantage of it like that?” asked the one in the worn jeans.
Wait, what? “It called me! I had no idea-”
“You could have refused it at any point. Heck, you should have!” Green Shirt fumed. “It’s just a kitten, for crying out loud. It doesn’t know any better.”
“It’s a kitten that-” I stopped myself. Thinking before I spoke was probably a better strategy in this situation if I didn’t want it to turn into a warzone. Well, more of one.
“What? A kitten that what?” My friend’s eyes had taken on the uncanny appearance of someone aiming a gun. I cringed.
“Uh. First: yes. I should have refused. I’m sorry I didn’t, which is why I called you in the first place. Second: you didn’t know your kitten was sentient until just over two weeks ago. How do you know it’s not capable of seeing the right and wrong of its actions for itself?”
“It’s a kitten!” exclaimed Worn Jeans.
“More than that, it’s a cat,” said Green Shirt. “Cats aren’t exactly known for their strong grasp on morality.”
“Well, they do know what it is,” amended Worn Jeans. “They just don’t follow it. On purpose. So, in the case of our kitten…”
“Cats will be cats?” I supplied.
“And, since your kitten is now too young to know these things, and will grow up not to follow them anyways, it’s up to us to make all of its moral decisions for it?”
“As much as possible, yes,” said Worn Jeans. “We do know we can’t be there all the time in every situation.”
“Which is why it’s so important that we only let it be with people that are committed to the same thing, and not boneheads like you,” Green Shirt said, arms crossed.
“Boneheads?” said Worn Jeans. “That’s a little harsh.”
“Well, it’s true!”
I fidgeted. “Should I leave?”
“That depends. Are you going to leave leave or go talk to the kitten again?”
“Well, see, it sent me an email that I haven’t responded to yet…”
“It has an email address?” asked Worn Jeans in bewilderment.
“And a tumblr, too.” I pulled out my phone. The kitten’s latest post was a picture of a fall forest, with the caption ‘We are more than we feel’. The previous was a sepia-filtered photo of latte art.
“It has a hipster blog?” said Worn Jeans. Green Shirt grabbed my phone.
“I’m not sure how to process this.” Green Shirt’s eyes were concerningly wide. “Is that latte telling me to live my dreams?”
“Maybe you should, uh, get to know your kitten better?” I suggested. “And, meanwhile, we can work on a payment plan for me?”
“Yeah,” said Green Shirt, still scrolling through the kitten’s tumblr. “But, uh, I’m beginning to see why it needed a psychologist.”
That sounded hopeful. I swear my bank account perked up at it. And, if I wasn’t still having an attack of conscience, that would have been that.
“You know, I think your kitten is plenty able to do what’s right. Enough that making those decisions for it is only going stop it from wanting to.” Damn, damn, damn. I knew from their expressions that that had been the absolute worst thing to say.
Green Shirt handed me back my phone. “I think we understand our kitten better than you do. We’ll work out a payment plan, but we’re not budging on our requirements for your behaviour with it.”
“Or we can just pretend I never said that.”
“Really?” said Worn Jeans. I gulped. “I can’t believe you.” At which point my friend upped and left the room.
This is what I get for being a psychologist to a kitten. Correction: for being desperate enough to be a psychologist to a kitten.
“We’ll, uh, work it out over email,” I said as I high-tailed it out of there before Green Shirt could do anything.
So, that was finally that. Years of friendship hanging precariously in the balance all because we disagreed about what their kitten could and could not handle.
It’s one of those moments where you’d like to laugh over the ridiculousness of it, but it was a little too serious for that.
I mean, we’d have never been in this situation if I hadn’t let the kitten take advantage of them.
But wouldn’t that mean that the kitten would have always been stuck? Aren’t I doing it a favour by standing up for it to my friends?
I don’t know.
Morality is hard, guys.
Dear psychologist human,
I cannot believe you showed my humans my tumblr. Do you not understand that it was meant to be ironic? They think it’s serious!
On another note: You still have not responded to my previous email. This displeases me. I require that you respond in a timely manner.
We must speak.
You know who.
*The graphic for this series was created by Amy Laurens :)