Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

The Making of CAT'S EYEWITNESS by Sneaky Pie Brown

Fiction - Thrillers | Bantam Hardcover | January 2005 | $24.00 | 0-553-80164-3

CAT'S EYEWITNESS by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Who saved civilization? Cats. Only cats and not a bunch of Irish monks scratching on parchment in Ireland. And I might add, those Irish cats saved the monks.

Now why do I mention this? Because monks are central to CAT'S EYEWITNESS.

I can tell the truth since Rita Mae is out chopping ice out of water buckets. She swears she is going to make enough money to put in non-freeze tanks in every pasture. This means, of course, that I'll have to write another mystery.

Back to my original sentence. Why did we save civilization, whether it was Rome, London or Paris? Because we killed the mice and rats that gobbled up the grain. We dispatched them sailing on ships from Egypt to all of Rome's outposts. We killed them wherever they showed their whiskers. I even wipe them out in the pastures here in Afton, Virginia. Pewter says she does but her butt is so big you could show a movie on it. She grabs some of my prizes, trots to our human, dropping them at her feet. Shameless.

Humans lack sharp senses but even Mom knows Pewter hasn't killed a thing.

Withdrawing from the world fascinates me. Cats would never become monks. We aren't pack animals like dogs, horses, and cattle so we need not live in a herd but we have a gregarious side. For my own part, I don't want to miss anything. However, given the mess humans have made of this world whether it was 900 A.D., 1307 A.D. (the accusations against the Templars), 1781 (the worst year of the French Revolution), or now, some humans walk away from it.

I readily concede that I live in the human constellation but I'm not quite of it. I don't give a fig for any of their ideologies, religious or political. They're all based on fear and force. A cat sees reality just as it is and I might add much better than humans as our eyes are superior. So I look at the dreadful inner burdens they carry and wonder why they don't see they've created them. But they don't. Withdrawing does make sense for some of them.

Of course, there was a time in human history when religious life was central to social workings. The ecclesiastical calendar was as important as the secular calendar. So a monk or a sister might have respect. Today, most people think such folds are mentally impaired or psychologically damaged. I don't. I wouldn't want to be caught up in the web of deceit, coercion, taxation (read in: organized theft), and downright murder that passes for human exchange.

The great thing about being a cat, apart from our athletic ability, is relishing every single second of life. I don't want to withdraw but then I'm part of Nature. I have never sought to separate myself from the buzzing conversation of all living things. I don't even want to separate myself from human life so long as it contains my human. I observe her and her friends carefully, which is why I can write about them.

Granted, I worry that they can't see in the dark, pollution and smoking has eroded what olfactory abilities they once had, and they've wrecked their ears with loud music and noise pollution. We're pretty lucky out here on the farm since we can escape most of that so my human's pretty sharp for her species. But I observe closely as does Pewter (ever the uncharitable feline) and the corgi who just thinks Rita Mae walks on water. Dogs can be so slavish.

I realized humans, being terribly self-centered, want themselves to be the main character of any story. So I've put a human at the center but you have to admit, the animals are the best characters! I'm not saying you have to admit that publicly but at least admit it to yourself.

Just this morning, my human and I were reading about the Knights Templar. She's always been interested in them. I think in some way that led us both to the monks on the Blue Ridge. They weren't warrior knights pledged to protect pilgrims traveling to The Holy Lands but the monks we wrote about had been founded by warriors and soldiers after the various wars gravitated to the Order.

Which brings me to a true mystery: Why do humans make war and cats do not? This doesn't mean I won't engage in a screaming, scratching match with a feline who has trespassed on my hunting territory. I will. Sometimes Pewter and I fight just to keep our game sharp. And sometimes, I'll box Tucker's ears. But cats, dogs, and horses don't make war. I don't know as I will ever understand this because it's so wasteful. Even my very own human, who after all, was raised in the church (supposedly learning "Love thy neighbor" etc.), spent summers in Bible school, two years of catechism and on and on, has a bellicose streak.

Maybe it all comes down to smash and grab.

You can see from this letter why Rita Mae and I are a good team. Left to myself, I'll wander. She brings me and the story back on the track. She's fierce that way and we sometimes have awful disagreements. After all I am the crown of creation but I admit, she's better organized.

People ask if Mrs. Murphy is like myself. Yes, although my judgments are often far more cruel than Murphy's. Then they ask if Harry is like Rita Mae. Yes and no. They're both farmers and they both fret over money, trying every way they can to stretch a dollar. If you're a farmer reading this, you know why. But in most every other way they aren't much alike. For one thing, my human knows her mind, knows what she wants, always has, and goes out and gets it. She's like an arrow from the bow which can be very disquieting to those people who have more amorphous goals (or none at all). Both Harry and Mom have Virginia manners so if need be they could have risen at the Court of Henry IV or even that of Louis XIV, in France. I'm trying to think if they have anything else in common. Hmm, both are good athletes although not as good as a cat. Both love the country and love animals. But I'd have to say they have different personalities.

Mother is terribly irreverent whereas Harry is more circumspect. For example, this very morning she switched on the news (5:00 AM, we get up early here), and one of our national worthies was declaiming about the war. Mother listened to every single word and then sighed, "I don't mind that he lies. I mind that he does it so badly."

Cats, of course, never lie. Hee hee.

—Sneaky Pie Brown