I was curious about Chester’s past before he joined our family. We didn’t get much background from the Mew Haven Cat Cafe so I did some digging. For a virtuous looking cat, turns out Chester was a juvenile delinquent.
Before he arrived in New Haven, Chester had a darker life. Chester, aka “Cedar” was a cat burglar. He also went by the aliases; Wicked Whiskers, Cockeyed Kitty and Big Pussy (Chester is a big Sopranos fan). Despite his angelic appearance, back in the day, he was one cat you didn’t want to cross. Not like the scaredy cat I see today.
In 2019, Chester used a catapult for a smash and scratch break in at the Cat on the Corner gift shop in Catskill, New York. Once inside, he knew right where to go; a locked display case in the rear containing high-end kibble. Chester had been casing the business for a few days. Using a cat’s paw tool, he pried open the cabinet and made off with several bags of Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Weight Solution Cat Food at $90 a pop.
“Guilt isn’t in cat vocabulary.”Helen Brown
Chester wasn’t about to eat diet cat food, but he knew he could make a killing for its resale value on the street. There were plenty of fat cats who could afford to feed their habits or simply lose weight, and Chester was going to take advantage of that.
But Chester’s carefully planned heist was done in by some sloppiness on his part. First, in his excitement at scoring a big haul, Chester coughed up a fur ball, leaving incriminating DNA evidence at the scene of the crime. Second, Chester forgot the cardinal rule of cat burglary; wear a dog mask. Four surveillance cameras manufactured by Cat’s Eye Security captured his every move in the store.
It didn’t take animal control officers long to arrest the truculent tabby and even less time for a jury to find him guilty. Despite his age and first conviction, the judge sentenced him to 8 months at Cattica, the state prison for hardened cats located in Cattaraugus County, New York, 45 miles southwest of its more famous sister facility, Attica.
To survive at Cattica, Chester wormed his way into the good graces of both the cons and the guards. The resourceful tabby became the prison scrounger, or in cat lingo, the mouser. If you needed something, Chester could get it from the outside. Kibble, scratching posts, cat toys, birds, rodents and a host of medicines from morphine, gabapentin and amitriptyline. But these were only gateway drugs to the holy grail of cat psychodelia, synthetic catnip.
For a cut of the profits, the guards looked the other way. Besides, a prison full of pliant cats doped up on synthetic catnip was a peaceful prison. Something the British knew in their dealings with China in the 18th and 19th centuries. When Chester’s sentence was served, he left Cattica with a wad of cash, synthetic catnip, some personality changes and the open road.
What he did next, I couldn’t determine. Despite the vast amount of information available on the internet, Chester’s trail went cold. I suppose he licked it all away on queens and drugs. Anyhow, I heard Chester was found in a stupor walking aimlessly around New Haven. There were more rumors he wound up at the Mew Haven Cat Cafe for “rehabilitation.” Next thing you know, Chester goes from being a tom to a gib and having Narcotics Anonymous sessions with the other cats.
Neutering and losing his cathood didn’t stop Chester from working his next flimflam, the roping in of my daughter Lily to be her pet (covered previously). It’s worked out well for him; he has the run of our home and no other cats to compete with. That means he doesn’t have to take his cat naps with one eye open or share his food, like he did in prison. It’s a good life for him.
But now that I know more about Chester’s past, sometimes I sleep with one eye open. That’s because I’ve seen him open doors and cabinets; a skill he obviously learned at Cattica. He might even have been educated on how to make a shiv.
On second thought, I just won’t sleep.
I was playing around on the computer one day in the basement when Chester came downstairs with a question. “What’s your belief in the origin of the universe?”, he asked. I was surprised, since he usually only wanted to discuss kibble, wire cat toy and the NFL.
I gave it a moment’s thought. It was a profound question; not as weighty as why the Jets keep losing, but still important.
Monotheists believe that the universe was created by God out of nothing. Many in the scientific community subscribe to the Big Bang Theory, that the universe began as a single point and kaboom! This theory gets some support from monotheists as jibing with their belief in the creation.
I told Chester I wasn’t sure, but I do believe there has always been a universe, and not some absolute starting point which is counter to my Christian upbringing. It’s more in line with Stephen Hawking and James Hartle’s “no-boundary” proposal; because we all think alike.
He believes in string theory. Not the string theory conceptualized in the 1980s by Robert Brandenberger and Cumrun Vafa, which suggests that the universe began as a tightly wound string; and well, you lose me after that.
Chester’s string theory has similar characteristics of the Big Bang and other string theories. The universe started as a tightly packed ball of string, then unraveled releasing everything there is throughout space. He refers to it as the Big Fluff. Simple but believable.
I asked him how he came to this revelation. Chester meowed, “Catnip, synthetic catnip.”
I had never heard of synthetic catnip, so I asked my Hunter S. Thompson of a cat where he got it from. “A Mexican drug cartel,” he whispered.
Chester explained that synthetic catnip could expand the minds of cats in ways that were beyond human comprehension. The only comparison I could think of were the CIA led LSD experiments that began in the 1950s.
“The smart cat doesn’t let on that he is.”H.G. Frommer
To bring home this point, Chester showed me the proprietary mathematical equations he came up with to support his version of string theory. Because it hasn’t been peer reviewed yet, I can’t show it to you. But believe me, it’s impressive.
On a lark, I sent a hard copy of Chester’s work via snail mail to Brandenberger, who is a professor at McGill University in Montreal. I figured it was worth the stamps. I emphasized that I wasn’t on hallucinogens and that Chester was a closet genius masquerading as a simple house cat. I didn’t mention the synthetic catnip.
My expectations were either no response, or a sarcastic retort noting the long-term harmful effects of using psychedelic pharmaceuticals.
Months later I received a letter from Brandenberger; next-day delivery no less. Instead of a derisive reply, he was outright exuberant. Floored by what he saw, Brandenberger forwarded the work to his string theory buddy, Vafa, a professor at Harvard.
Clearly Chester showed these two theoretical physicists they had some big holes shot into their work. A concept now only worthy of the litter box. As Chester purred to me, “Their theory unraveled. ”
Brandenberger and Vafa are now recalculating their work with the assistance of synthetic catnip.
I expect nothing less than a Nobel for Chester. That will get his cat cred back, if only cats knew what a Nobel Prize is.
And yes, we have jumped the shark.