“Please, don’t do it!” I pleaded to my human while I pressed my soft furry head into her leg with earnest. I jumped up onto her lap gracefully and repeated my signature move against her torso. Finally, going in for the kill-her-with-cuteness move to get her to understand my plea, I stretched my slender delicate figure upwards so that my paws rested daintily on her chest and my head matched the height of her own. Again, using my cuteness as a weapon of persuasion, I pressed my silky face hard against her fleshy hairless cheek before I switched tactics.
I began to lick her chin to get her to comprehend my declaration and change her mind. I needed her to hear what I was saying instead of only hearing my distinguished sounding meow that came out of my throat, over my sandpaper tongue and out through my beautifully whiskered lips. I was telling her how I felt as I repeated my exclamation, “Please, don’t do it!” Alas, once again she only heard my sweet but determined meow as she kissed my head and purred back at me that she loved me so much and was I hungry? My human sometimes frustrated me to the point of thinking her as ignorant or simply plain stupid. How could she be so oblivious to what I was very clearly saying to her? I jumped off her lap in a gentle silent leap and sat upon the carpet next to her ridiculous looking paws and meowed again, much louder this time to show her my irritation at her listening and perception skills.
Once again she ignored my proclamation as the only response I received were more kisses on my head as she picked me up and cuddled me right into her chest.
“Okay my little baby, lets get you some food my sweet Princess,” was what she purred back in the middle of my tender snuggle. As she carried me towards the kitchen to get me food, the food I did not ask for, I could not help but feel disappointed in her. Even though I loved it when she nuzzled me like that, she still had not bothered to listen to what I urgently stated. Or worse, which I suspected was the case, she did not even understand what I was meowing to her. I loved her so much, as in return she did me, I nonetheless could not help but feel perplexed at her apparent lack of desire to grasp what my variety of meows and purrs meant. The time and effort I put into learning her language, Stephanie had not reciprocated.
The first thing I learned were our names; hers being Stephanie and I, Princess. I am not saying it was not hard some days, I was merely a kitten at the time, but within a few months of our daily interactions together, I had figured out what her foreign meows meant. I had overheard an exchange of meows she had over the phone with another human whom she referred to as her best friend Tara. Not only did Stephanie talk about another cat joining our home, but I also winced when she mentioned the new cat would be coming from Roam A.I., a company I was personally against. An enemy of not only real cats, but real cat lovers everywhere. How shocked I was to hear Stephanie even considering such a thing. This was what I had been pleading with her not to do.
I discovered this company’s existence on a beautiful summer day when the sizzling heat of the high noon sun was easily melting the paint off houses. I would rather the sun burn the houses than have it burning my back while I explored the adventures laying outside the house. Instead of exploring that day, I chose to be in the cool temperature of the air conditioner inside while sitting on Stephanie’s comfortable lap and petted blissfully. Stephanie had curled up on the chair printed with a motif of large, colorful flowers, the most enjoyable to sit on as she watched what humans called television. That was when I first saw the infomercial about Roam A.I. They claimed to be ahead of their time, as well as ahead of their competition, regarding Artificial Intelligence. That was an unfamiliar remark for me, ‘Artificial Intelligence,’ so I decided to watch and learn another new human thing.
From the television I heard them say, “Our team here at Roam A.I. are ready to make our advances in the science of technology and expertise in Artificial Intelligence available to the public. We have truly become a family at Roam A.I. all due to our daily dedication to creating the highest caliber of service and A.I. products possible. We invite you to join us in making our family bigger. Every client will become family once they experience how the personalization of our products will be unique to every single one of you. Not to mention how closely our service team will collaborate with you until your product is exactly right for your wants, needs and desires. We are far above our competition when it comes to A.I. that we do not even entertain the thought of having competition. Our family are immensely ahead of our time ever since we first embraced the special, personalized technology of Artificial Intelligence. You will meet with us at our state-of-the-art facility with the most modern and revolutionary computerized A.I. components to have your product finalized. You will have then ensured your position in the Roam A.I. family, playing a vital role of being on the forefront of those around you. Your neighbours, friends, and family will be in awe of the newest, most impressive, most realistic and fastest learning A.I. creation you have added to your household to enrich your life.”
I could not help but let out a yawn that was so big my mouth practically matched the gaping crevasse called the Grand Canyon. This television show was boring me. But I had nuzzled on Stephanie’s lap in such a perfectly comfortable position I was not going to leave. Besides, even though it may have killed me, I was very curious to find out what the amazing products were that they mentioned. So, I continued to watch.
“Using only the highest quality robotics,” the self-assurance and confidence of the man talking was practically jumping out of the screen and oozing all over our heads and into our ears and dripping off our bodies. I could see humans getting excited over this company. I was bored though but was too comfortable to move, and my deadly curiosity had taken over.
“Using only the highest quality robotics, we are bringing the next generation of companions to A.I. life, and into your home for years to come. Starting small I would love to introduce you to everyone’s favourite pets, mans best friend, the most loyal and easily trained dog as well as the adorable, stubbornly independent house cat. The cat meowed as if on cue”
My interest suddenly piqued. What kind of meow had I heard? I did not understand what that cat was saying. She was a beautiful cat I had to admit. Everything about her seemed so perfect and she was just gleaming. The coat she wore was quite fine. Was it a trick of the television cameras and the lighting that enhanced her breathtaking colors? White, orange, and black intertwined all over that thick, luxurious, fluffy coat. As fluffy as a cloud that was grabbed from the sky and placed right on her. I was impressed with the beauty of this cat but there was something eerily wrong with her. Was it her incomprehensible meow or the way she sat in one spot? She was not even licking herself or sniffing at the dog. She was so well-behaved; it just did not make sense. I had tuned out while they spoke of the dog, I was distracted by the unique and suspiciously different behavior over this gorgeous feline that Roam A.I. was calling a product. How can a cat be a product? I know the word product well. My cat food is a product, as is my brand-new red collar covered with tiny rhinestones that sparkle and shimmer almost as much as my lovely green eyes. Products are things Stephanie puts on a shopping list and brings home for us to eat or use. Like my new toy who I fondly call mousey. I know its not a real mouse, but he was so much fun to play with, especially when my human stuffs him full of catnip! Then I bite him even harder and hold him in my front paws and kick him repeatedly with my hind legs. I had already torn him open twice, but my wonderful human stitches him back together for me. She really loves me. I turned my attention back to the television.
“So, when you think of cats what do we love about them? Of course, the companionship, how cute they are and how nice they are to cuddle with. But there are downfalls that Roam A.I. has taken care of. Just like our dog, the A.I. cat has no need to eat or drink which solves another messy downfall, the litterbox!” The commentor of this infomercial is sounding so excited about this I could understand why humans would do whatever he said.
I was in shock. I licked my paw vigorously and then ran it over my face and licked it again to rub my eyes and my ears. What sorcery was this? Did I hear that right? Was I seeing things? How was it possible that a cat could go without luxuries such as food, water and a litterbox? I absolutely loved when my human said, “Come get some delicious dinner.” That meant I was getting wet food and not just dry food. And wet food was delicious. Then lapping up cool water? Positively divine! As for the litterbox, how could you deprive a cat of the delightful pleasure it was to sink one’s paws into the grainy sand? To get to dig and flail the sand about was so much fun and such a joy! Not to mention how gratifying it was to bury your waste. I adored my litterbox. In fact, I believe that my kind and loving human Stephanie would also love a litterbox of her own. She was playing videos for her bestie Tara when she returned from what she called a tropical island vacation. As usual my curiosity was not held back, and I watched too. Well, there she was in a huge litterbox full of sand as far as the eye could see and she was playing in it, digging, and squishing her silly looking paws in it and she was having a wonderful time. Seems to me she would love a litterbox.
Back on the television the man continued, “The first one hundred callers get a consult with one of our specialists so they can bring home their robot companion, Dog or Cat, for a special rate of twenty percent off. Remember these adorable creatures will be programmed with the characteristics you decide. They are instilled with whatever tricks you want them to do and command words to control them. Then you can watch your new A.I. robot grow into their personality the longer you are with them. That is right, they will learn from their environment and from you how to behave and what makes you happy. I know this is all fascinating and unbelievable at the same time, which is why I urge you to make that phone call today.”
That was it. I could not watch anymore. My curiosity was sated and replaced with disgust. No wonder I could not understand that cat’s meow. She was not even a cat! She was a robot. She looked so real it was scary. I stretched my body as far as it would go, emulating a rubber band, elongating my stiff muscles from sitting in one spot for too long. I sprang from lap to floor and immediately ate food and used my litter box. Robot cats without food and litter? As I dug and flicked sand everywhere I thought about the cat with the creepy vibe she gave off because she looked completely real but was not. That was why I did not understand her meow, why her coat was gorgeous, and she looked so perfect. She was a robot! She could not even be called ‘she.’ She was an ‘it.’
I expected Stephanie to be as appalled as I was but instead, she looked extremely interested as she was now leaning forward and even picked up a pen and paper to make notes. The next day was when I heard her talking about getting one of those “cats.” No, I can not even in good conscience refer to that “thing” as a cat. Talking about getting that A.I product was more like it. I overheard her saying how nice it would be for me to have a friend in our house and how she could program that thing to be submissive so it would not even fight with me for territory. She mentioned how adorable these A.I robot things were and how she would save money by not having to purchase extra food and litter but would still have the advantage of having a second cat.
Well, that was it! My ears had me completely dismayed by what they were hearing. I did not want another cat in my home, much less a robot one pretending to be a real cat. I did not need a friend. I had Stephanie and the cats I know from exploring the outdoors. I wondered what I could do to get my human to change her mind.
A month had gone by and her new A.I. cat was supposed to be arriving any day. I had been unsuccessful in changing her mind, though I still pleaded with her everyday not to do it. To add to my displeasure, she started getting excited and constantly reminding me that my new friend would be coming soon. Despite my disapproval, the day was upon us when this robot thing showed up at my house. Stephanie was so excited she placed the robot cat right in front of me and said, “Have fun with your new friend. Her name is Duchess, not as important as my royal Princess but still royal enough to be granted permission to sit with you. I will always love you the most my baby Princess,” and stroked my body lovingly. Good. At least I was reassured that I was still number one around here.
I circled this fake yet unbelievably realistic version of a cat that Roam A.I. had masterminded. I sniffed her and surprisingly the robot sniffed me right back, although more slowly with a hint of trepidation. I touched Duchess with my paw and was startled because she felt so much like me. Underneath her glowing fur, I was expecting the A.I. cat to feel more like the exterior of a car, hard metal that is quite unbitable. I pressed my paw into the body of this flawlessly feline looking computer harder this time to further investigate not only how she felt but how she would react. I knew she was not real, but this thing might make a fun new toy for me. She certainly would never be my friend, as Stephanie suggested, but I could always use a new toy. Duchess did not move so I meowed loudly at her and bit into her neck. It was soft and chewy but drew no blood. This cat meowed back at me, meekly and mildly like the nervous newcomer she was, giving me even more superiority, and ran under the kitchen table like a scaredy cat! I still did not understand her meow, it was so foreign, hollow, and plainly fake sounding. It reminded me again that she is just fake masquerading as real. I decided that I did not even want this thing as a toy. It was simply wrong to look and feel so real while Roam A.I. attempted to pass these things off as natural cats.
Then Stephanie practically scolded me as I heard her meow to me, “Princess! Play nice. Duchess is new and I made sure she was submissive so she would not fight with you. Be more polite like the Princess you are.” I did not like being told how to treat my new toy no matter how real it looked. I pounced on Duchess like I would pounce on mousey and grabbed her by the neck with my sharp teeth holding her still underneath me. I know she is not a real cat, but she is suddenly so much fun to play with, and I know how to get rid of her just like when I tear Mousey open. I bit her even harder and held her in my front paws and kicked her repeatedly with my hind legs. I could not believe she was not fighting back! I continued to bite and scratch and kick her with such force that quickly her eyes lost their glow and she lay motionless. I had succeeded in destroying my new toy. All my disappointment in Stephanie for even getting Duchess disappeared and I could finally relax again as the lone cat in the house. I looked into Stephanie’s shocked face and rubbed my body into her legs triumphantly. I meowed at her, “I am happier without an A.I. cat. Please do not be mad at me,” with wide innocent eyes. Stephanie had Duchess in her arms, and she purred back, “I am certainly glad this thing is under warranty Princess.” Another new human thing to learn! I would soon find out what warranty meant.