How did it come to this? I swear I'm not the mythical
crazy cat lady -- you know, that 300 pound new age spinster surrounded by dozens of feral cats in feline squalor. I'm happily married with a four-year-old son and I live a terrifyingly typical
suburban existence. I do happen to have three cats, but they don't wear jeweled collars, cat leashes or visit pet spas. I make the effort not to blur the boundaries between the bipeds and the
quadrupeds in our household.
If the behavior of our children is the ultimate litmus test for our parenting prowess, then I'm
proud to say that my son is well-socialized, happy and healthy. But judging by the appalling behavior of my youngest cat Dickens, apparently I'm the feline Mommy Dearest. Despite my best efforts,
Dickens grew up to be an insufferably spoiled, insolent, indolent, fat and demanding cat.
Ask any cat lover what they love about cats and they'll cite independence, low-maintenance, graceful, smart, quiet and clean. Dickens has none of these qualities. In fact, he is the Anti-Cat. If
Garfield and Odie were to have a love child, it would turn out something like poor Dickens.
He has bizarre OCDs such as repetitive litter scratching, and goes around the house covering up random objects with imaginary cat sand. He also has a strange compulsion to dunk his paw into
unattended drinks. After knocking back a few too many drinks laced with hair and gritty cat litter, I've resorted to drinking out of straw cups like a toddler.
But what really affected our lives was his incessant howling. Over the years, we've lost countless hours of sleep over his night time howling. There wasn't a room in the house we could lock him up
where we couldn't hear his vocal stylings. In desperation, we set up a pet bed in the garage so we could get some sleep.
Several vets have checked him out thoroughly and haven't found a physical cause. So we tried all sorts of remedies -- from homeopathy, prescription sedatives for anxiety, night lights in case he
had issues with the dark, to extra litter pans and nothing worked. If anything, the nightly practice increased his vocal range and volume.
Finally, my newest vet, Dr Lisa Woolf, acknowledged that he seemed "confused" and suggested we try a pet psychic. "You never know," she shrugged, "maybe he's trying to tell you something."
Oh please. Pet psychics? I'm less skeptical about psychic abilities than I am about Dickens having anything remotely resembling a thought to read. After all, this is a cat that routinely gets lost
in his own house and meows pathetically for assistance.
But the upside of having such a "special" cat is that he's also the most affectionate cat that ever lived. He faithfully waddles after us like a dog and slobbers all over our faces to gives us
kisses. The other cats seem embarrassed for him. I couldn't bear to give him away. Not that anybody else would take a neurotic, asthmatic feline who does kitty karaoke every night.
So I called Jean Connelly, a Sherman Oaks based psychic who came highly recommended by the owner of my neighborhood holistic pet food store and by my veterinarian.
Don't say "psychic"
First of all, Jean set me straight that the term "pet psychic" was passé and referred to herself as a "Telepathic Animal Communicator." She felt the "psychic" label came with too much
sensationalist baggage. "I don't do readings or play parlor games. I have an actual intuitive, interactive conversation with the animal. I talk to them and I listen to them."
I asked her how this interactive conversation was possible and she replied, "The best way for me to explain telepathic communication is to compare it to a radio frequency. It's done on wavelengths.
All animals communicate with each other. I just happen to have the ability to hear it too." In addition to verbal communication, she also receives answers from feelings and pictures. I was
intrigued despite myself, and set an appointment for her to make a house call for my kitty.
In preparation, I did some research and consulted the Committee for the Scientific Explanations of Claims for the Paranormal (CSICOP), a non-profit educational organization founded in 1976 by
scientists, writers and academics such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov and James Randi, to encourage the critical investigation of paranormal claims. According to Joe Nickell, Senior Research Fellow
for CSICOP, psychics use five common cold reading techniques.
- Noting the obvious.
- Making safe statements.
- Asking questions. This ploy gives the illusion of providing information when in reality, they're asking for it.
- Utilizing the "Barnum Effect." Named after showman P.T. Barnum, who provided something for everyone; this involves offering vague statements which most people can apply specifically to
- Returning messages to the animals.
The telepathy begins
Jean arrived at my house bearing bribes, er... gifts for my cats in the form of Greenies dental treats and furry toy mice. She was a grandmotherly woman with short, iron grey hair and the cats
clustered around the goodies like it was Christmas morning. She asked me some brief questions about the ages of my cats, how long I've had them and whether they were indoor or outdoor cats. I was
very guarded about my replies, in case she was fishing for information...
What did the cats have to "say" to the psychic? Find out on the next page!