Your indoor cat: You are sometimes overcome by the irrational and persistent feeling that everyone else you meet at social gatherings has been given a guidebook on how to behave normally and interact smoothly just before you arrived, and that they are secretly glad you have not been given one. You are, for once in your life, correct. They have been. And they will never tell you, and you will never see the book, but that does not mean it isn’t very real.
Your outdoor cat: No one has ever told you that you are given to mispronouncing words like “foliage” and “pronunciation,” words you have never heard other people say and have only ever read in books. No one ever corrects you, but then no one has to tell you something’s gone wrong when a conversation ices into something smooth and arch and mannered, when only a moment before it was warm and easy.
Your declawed indoor cat: It doesn’t matter if you rescued it already clawless or declawed it yourself in your linen closet with a pair of pliers. You are fated to wander the earth, deathless and restless, like the Ancient Mariner, corralling smiling wedding guests and badgering them into conversation until the smiles melt from their faces and they tell you that declawing a cat is exactly like removing the wrists from toddlers without anesthesia.
Your indoor cat: You pride yourself on being fair and impartial and given to introspection; in reality you simply spend an enormous amount of time mentally justifying everything you have ever done. You rule in your own favor every time, and you never wonder why your friendships seem to fail at the three-year mark.
Your outdoor cat: Every night, when you open the door to let your cat pour itself out into the darkness, you whisper “Kill a bird for Jonathan Franzen.”
Your indoor/outdoor cat: You can menstruate consciously. Not on command, exactly — it isn’t a parlor trick, you can’t just bleed at the drop of a hat — but if you spend an evening focusing your energy, the next day your period will have begun. You have done this all your life, but only told a handful of friends about it. They have all responded with equal parts bafflement and tolerance. You can’t show them, exactly, or prove it, but it’s true all the same. You’re more than a little proud of it, too.
Your declawed outdoor cat: You have never been sorry for anything that you have ever done. In your dreams, you are always falling.
Your indoor cat: Whenever your cat leaps up from a peaceful sitting position and suddenly flees the room, you whisper “You are right to fear me.”
Your outdoor cat: Every time you speak with a certain acquaintance, you have almost exactly the same conversation, right down to the letter. You are not sure if they have noticed. Surely they must have noticed. But they never say anything, so neither do you.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.