THE CAT WHO WOULD BE A WOMAN
by Olivia Diamond
I’m curled up on the closet floor among all my mistress’s sneakers, pointed
high heels and smart pumps. My cheek rests against her fuzzy slippers
– my favorite. Her crisp blouses waft a faint aroma of scented laundry
detergent into my delicate nostrils. The hems of party dresses hover a
few feet above my head. The chiffon baby blue one is my particular favorite,
although the velvet green also merits some praise. My mistress has fine
taste, but then again, so do I. Didn’t I choose her? I come and go just
as I please. That’s what I like about my circumstances. The smells of
her closet are irresistible, but so are those of the linen closet. If
she leaves the door slightly ajar, I slip inside to nap on top of the
When she primps
for work in the morning before her makeup mirror, I slither between the
cologne bottles and hair spray cans. If it smells good or it feels soft,
you can bet I’ll be there. Out of the corner of my eye, as I tiptoe across
the dresser, I can glimpse my shapely body and think, not a bad-looking
gal for being ten years old. My hips are still supple, my feet dainty.
My thick, smoky gray coat shines as lustrous as ever. When she is in a
hurry, my mistress often leaves her lingerie drawer ajar. That’s my lucky
day. As soon as I hear her car start, I’m in it.
I was contented
with my life as a cat. Far be it from me to wish to trade my feline existence
for any other. Lately, though, it has become almost unbearable. During
my waking hours, granted they are few, all I think about is becoming a
woman. Until recently, it has pleased me just to be a voyeur in the world
of my mistress. Now I am consumed, tormented by the desire to walk erect,
to clothe my bare flesh in fabrics of various textures, to daub my lips
and rouge my cheeks. I think I will die if I cannot be a woman. Yes, I
am obsessed, driven to distraction.
began a year ago. Steadily, my desire grew, ballooned into an urge that
threatens to send me over the edge. It happened when my mistress, of all
things, decided to marry. I had never lived with a man before. I don’t
believe in that kind of arrangement nor does my mistress. We both require
commitment. When I chose her, I knew it was an irrevocable decision. I
was just a kitten but one with strong preferences, and I liked her and
her accommodations very much. I fit right into the house. I never thought
I could want anything else.
Granted I was
wary when this big guy moved in. He promptly started rearranging furniture
and building things, like shelves and counters. He put me on a diet, saying
I was too fat. That didn’t bother me much, because I knew if I whined
enough that my mistress would fill my bowl. More unsettling was sharing
the bed with him. I had been used to my place at the foot of the bed and
he required a good deal of space. Now there were four feet to contend
with at night. Despite this irritation, I managed to make myself comfortable.
Sometimes the thrashing was a bit much. I wanted to join in. Often I was
ignored when I rubbed against one of their faces to indicate my presence.
That’s my method to acknowledge a human and to demonstrate my receptivity
to any overtures of affection they may proffer me. If there is one thing
I abhor, it is being ignored. I believe in studying a human’s character
for a while before passing judgment. My mistress’s husband occupied a
lot of valuable space, but I liked him. You know why? Because he paid
attention to me. He roughhoused with me. The more he did it, the more
I liked it. I found it strangely erotic.
As time passed,
I realized the man was paying me more attention than my mistress ever
had. Perhaps she had taken me for granted all along. Once in a blue moon
she would pet me, but I could always depend on the master giving me a
gentle cuff when I slunk across the bed or arched my body around his leg.
Then the fun would begin. I rolled on my back; he would poke me on my
belly, my back, behind my ear. I loved it. I parried with my paw if I
could, but he usually escaped my clutch before I nabbed him. The truth
is I would not hurt him for the world. Besides, I was declawed.
Men are so
much more fun than the female of the species. What a revelation after
all these years of living with one woman. Not that I didn’t love and admire
my mistress anymore. Far be it from me. No, I wanted to be just like her.
I wanted to be a woman, not just a cat who received the few crumbs of
affection left from the man. My daytime naps were filled with dreams of
wearing my mistress’s clothes, silk scarves, and high heel shoes, of combing
my hair like hers, of painting my face with everything in her cosmetics
bag, of dousing a lithe, shining body with every bottle of cologne on
her dresser. I had discovered man and my life could never be the same.
The days are
tolerable because I spend them napping in a cozy place like this, which
somewhat lessens that gnawing discontent. At night, I am increasingly
obsessed with the desire to be a woman. What I wouldn’t do for just one
hour, one day as a woman! I’d give up the eight lives remaining to me
if I could spend a day as a human woman--tall, svelte and stripped of
this furry coat that suited me well for so many years. Then, I consider
I must count my blessings. I inhabit a snug home with lots of ideal nooks
and crannies. I have a daily ration of food. I’m never put out in the
cold to wander the streets. I am felix domesticus, tame and freed of the
necessity to prey upon filthy mice and other vermin. I am a lady of quality,
of royal lineage, said to be descended on my mother’s side from the pharaoh’s
litter of temple felines.
I have dawdled
here long enough ruminating on my discontent. Time to get up, stretch
my limbs and meander downstairs. My internal clock tells me, they’ll soon
be coming upstairs to work in their study. The light is dimming in the
bedroom. As is my custom, I’ll pad into the den and curl up by the master’s
feet under his desk. They’ve finished supper and I hear them shuffling
papers in the den. It’s an opportune time to overhear their conversation.
That’s when they exchange the news of the day. I receive advance warning
whether they are planning to have company or go out for an evening. Sometimes
the drivel they talk puts me to sleep. Stock market, computers, best-selling
books, business trips. My master travels a lot.
“Honey, I have
a two-day training seminar to attend. It’s an overnighter in Chicago.”
My whiskers twitched at this. That was my mistress’s voice imparting the
news. She never traveled. What a switch!
“Can you take
care of yourself while I’m gone?” Honestly, why sure, he can take care
of himself. He’s a big man, I thought. I refrained from evincing my pleasure
at her absence, stifling the purr, which threatened to arise from my throat.
Alone with the master. No one else with whom to share his affection. Two
whole days and a night! Whoopee!
you but I’ll manage to fend for myself.” He pulls her down into his lap.
My lap! The place where I like to park. When I do, I receive his undivided
attention and the games follow. Now they’re starting that kissy-pooh stuff.
So what do I care? The kicking and poking around, the games I play with
him are just as much fun. But ah! Doubt riddles my soul. If I were a woman,
would I have more fun? The thought of it sends me into paroxysms of envy.
I strive to curb my headlong spin into jealousy. Such emotion does not
become me. I know it. It is beneath my dignity, my noble ancestry. But
what can I do about it, but just ooze with longing the rest of my lives?
I wish I were a woman. If only I were a woman, what a woman would I be!
I must get
control of myself. It’s souring my stomach, ruining my digestion. My hairballs
are increasing. I’ve spent an excessive amount of time preening myself.
Having to regurgitate a hairball, which I haven’t done since my pubescent
years, disgusts me. I’m finicky about such matters. I hold my personal
hygiene in high regard. I am also a cat who has a similar regard for the
carpet and furnishings of my mistress. I do not wish to sully them in
any way. Although I don’t show it, I’m grieved when these physiological
eruptions occur in my system.
Oh, good, they’re
done with that foolery! He’s settled down in front of his computer and
she’s playing her flute. I do love her music. It soothes my distemper.
I’ll walk over to his chair, vault atop the monitor and voilá, in a flick
of my tail, he’ll notice me.
what the heck are you doing up there?” Ever so slightly I deftly lift,
the tip of my tail in reply; otherwise motionless, staring him down.
He swats my
tail. I switch it right back at his forefinger. Then the fun begins. He
grabs me by the nape of the neck, lowers me onto my back on the rug and
pokes his toe into my belly. My forepaw shoots out to grab his foot, but
before I can touch him, his other toe pokes my flank. Round and round
we spar, me rolling from side to side and he feinting and parrying my
every move. He tires of the game before I do and swivels in his chair
to resume his work. I wait for a few seconds before padding over to the
I doze off
for a few hours after the tussle. The click of the light switch awakens
me. I sense that the room darkens before I open my eyes. They are on their
way to bed. I will wait until they are sound asleep before I follow them
into the four-poster and find my spot on the quilt close to their feet.
I hear the sound of their voices talking in bed, it seems, for an unusually
long time tonight. I almost drift back to sleep when my finely tuned ears
pick up a scratch at the windowpane. I turn my head toward the sound.
At first, I perceive nothing against the glass. My sixth sense tells me
something is amiss. An intruder, the neighbor’s orange tabby – I hate
that color – she is such a bushy, pushy cat – with that long matted mane
of hers. She thinks she’s queen of the block, strutting around through
our flowerbeds when and where she wants to. If I had claws on my forepaws,
I’d scratch out her eyes. As for myself I rarely slip outside, and then,
only to sniff a few herbs and lick a few leaves. I prefer not to roll
in the dirt like that stuck-up Jezebel next door. If that’s her caterwauling
around here, I’ll give her a what-for right now.
In a thrice
I’m on my haunches, at attention, ready to leap at the slightest indication
of movement at the window. I stand poised for any eventuality, any peeping
tom at my window. The effrontery of some of the animals in my neighborhood
knows no bounds. I myself have better breeding, acquainted as I am with
the niceties of civilization.
“What are you
staring at?” A refined stream of purrs executed in Semitic cadences catches
my ear. I swivel around toward the source of the sound. A silver-haired,
sleek cat with black stripes along breast and legs, and the spots of a
leopard on its back, minces at me from the top of the computer monitor.
The black stripes line the face and continue to the top of the head where
it forms an M-shape between the ears. This cross between a tabby cat and
a leopard stands no taller than I am. Never in my life had I seen such
a hybrid creature. From its neck dangles a gold chain with an ankh of
Coptic design. Its eyes are jade green. If my vision does not deceive
me, in the center of those intense orbs are tiny white pinpoints from
which rays project, as if emitted from some kind of optometrist’s instrument
for peering into my own eyeballs for cataracts.
“How did you get in here?”
“You summoned me.”
“I did no such thing. If you want to leave
with that pretty fur coat intact, you’d best scat now.”
“That’s not the customary reception for a fairy
“A fairy cat godmother?”
“Yes, after all, you summoned me. You were
wishing your little heart out. I’m here to grant your greatest wish.”
“How can you do that?” I inch a few feet closer
and study the ankh encrusted with rubies and turquoise.
“I am Nabila, queen of the Nile temple
cats, guardian of Nefertiti’s tomb. The ladies of the dynasty allowed
me freedom to roam their chambers as I pleased. They loved me so, that
I accompanied them to the underworld.” She raises herself from her haunches
upon four feet, arches her back and then resettles herself on her belly
with her front paws tucked under her chest. “Isn’t it your desire to be
a woman? I can grant you that boon.”
I can’t stifle my credulity. I desire to be a woman too much to
disbelieve her claim. Cats are conversant with the occult and I can no
more deny that old black magic than I can deny that I was a cat.
“Oh, fairy cat godmother, if that’s really who you are, I want
that more than anything else in the world. If I could be a woman, I’d
give up my eight remaining lives.”
“That won’t be necessary,” she chortled. “I am your fairy cat
godmother and it is my job to see that you get what you want.”
A trace of skepticism checks my enthusiasm, which races wildly
through every nerve of my body.
“What’s the catch? You must require something in return.”
“The cautious cat in you asks that. Don’t you know that fairy
cat godmothers grant wishes out of love? Rest assured there is no catch.
No cat and mouse game. I have only the power to make you a woman for one
“A woman for a day is all I ask. That would be world and time
enough for me.”
“As good as done.” Nabila smacks her lips.
“Well, do it. Do it, right now. Wave your magic wand or ankh.
I can’t wait.”
“You impetuous cat. No, it can’t be. Think a moment. Two women
in the same house? That won’t do. We must wait until your mistress departs.
Remember I am a fairy cat godmother and I’ve appeared for a reason. Your
mistress leaves tomorrow?”
“That’s right!” I exclaim. “Exactly so. How did you know?”
“Fairy cat godmothers have ways of knowing. We must proceed in
the proper manner. If you are to become a woman, you must assume your
mistress’s place while she is gone.”
“Look like her?”
“Yes. With my potion, you will appear as your mistress so that
you can take her place without your master being the wiser. That is the
only way I will be able to grant your wish to be a woman for a day. Do
you think your master would dally with another woman?”
“So, then it must be.
”I can not dispute Nabila’s argument. She has the wisdom of the
ages behind her. I defer to her experience in such matters. The fact that
she appears to a humble American domestic cat serves to increase my sense
of awe and humility in the presence of one of the matriarch’s of my species.
I want to lick her paws in utter gratitude for the favor of her visit.
“Tomorrow evening I’ll return with the potion. Be ready.” With
that she rises from her languid position atop the monitor and archly steps
through the glass of the windowpane and melts into the leafy shadows of
the elms beyond as if floating upon the night air.
As I expect, early the next morning, my mistress tramps downstairs
with a suitcase and shoulder bag, heads out the door to the car for her
overnight trip to the big city. She wears the charcoal gray suit with
stripes so much like my own coat and the red silk blouse I adore. From
the living room window, I watch her climb in the car and back out of the
driveway. She is in too much of a hurry to notice me between the lace
curtains. I am in a dither the rest of the day, wondering when Nabila
will return to effect my metamorphosis. I fidget, meander from room to
room, unable to get comfortable in sofa or bed, under the chair or in
the closet, thinking about my impending transformation. Evening arrives
and still no Nabila. Preferring not to cook supper himself, my master
goes to a restaurant for dinner. I sit in the gloaming and press my nose
to the windowpane where I first sensed Nabila. Was it all a pipe dream?
Her fortuitous appearance yesterday just the workings of my supercharged
obsession to experience being a female of the human species rather than
being satisfied with the simple joys of felix domesticus? I wish I had
claws to gnaw upon while I wait. Was my fairy cat godmother going to return
Suddenly, I hear a ping as if an icicle had fallen from the eave
– a highly improbable occurrence since it was early October – but that’s
what the sound brings to mind. Then I hear the accents of an oriental
cat and twist my neck in surprise. There she perches on the back of the
“So, you were doubting my return? Faith, my dear, you must have
more faith. I need full cooperation in this undertaking. A woman I promised
you would be, and a woman you shall be for one enchanted night.”
“When do we begin?”
“Right now. Your master will be returning soon. You must be ready
and waiting for him. Close your eyes tightly.”
Determined to cooperate to the fullest in this endeavor, I close
them. My fears dissipate as my excitement mounts with the fulfillment
of my fondest dream. I smell Nabila approach, her thick mist of ambrosia
almost sending me into paroxysms of delight.
“Lick my ankh, but don’t open your eyes, Gretchen, my dear,” she
I do as she bids. What I taste on my tongue sends more ripples
of pleasure through my body. It is anise, the licorice spice that flavors
ouzo and other Middle Eastern brews. Then she meows a string of bizarre
“Akrazar-Akrazam-Shakar-Arram-Arrim-Meow-Arrum, you are a woman.
” I feel my body expand, a fullness comes over me, a swelling
of all my limbs, a lifting of my spine as if I am strung from a tree.
I am about to open my eyes when Nabila warns, “Don’t open your eyes. Not
yet. The process is not complete. I want you to count down from 100. When
you get to zero you may open your eyes.”
I obey her directions, hardly able to contain my joy. I rush the
numbers, anxious to be finished like a priest pronouncing Mass. I burst
open my eyes after the glorious zero. They are level with spines of the
books on the shelf above the computer monitor. I turn around, searching
the room for Nabila, but she has disappeared without a word of farewell.
I pull open drawers, thrilled with my newfound manual dexterity. I twist
the doorknob, open and close the door several times. I promenade around
the room upright on two feet, skip and hop, exploring the potentialities
of my leg muscles. I spread my arms to test my reach and am satisfied
with my ability to switch the lights off and on and to draw and close
the curtains. I run my palms across my new body shorn of fur, and love
the texture. Peering down my torso, I discover my skimpy garb, unlike
any I have seen upon my mistress. I wear a flimsy black lace chemise top
trimmed with ruffles at the bust and at the hem, which falls just above
my hip, revealing a pair of lace-frilled bikini panties from which garters
extend, holding up black net stockings with scarab beetles set at regular
intervals along their leg. My feet are shod in open-toed, backless high-heeled
“Gadzooks!” I swear. He’ll never believe I am Priscilla (that’s
my mistress’s name -- I apologize; I forgot to inform you). She’s much
too proper for a get-up like this! Whatever am I to do? I scamper to the
full-length mirror in the master bedroom to assure myself that my eyes
do not deceive. My reflection verifies the awful truth. The body, the
face, the hair are surely those of my mistress, but the outfit bears no
resemblance to any in her wardrobe. This is not the customary dress of
Miss Pris, but rather that of a model straight out of a Victoria’s Secret
catalogue. But that is not all! I gasp in horror at the further effects
of my miscreation. No way can I, by any stretch of the imagination, be
pawned off as a reasonable facsimile of Priscilla. Between my legs I see
a vestigial tail, long, smooth and black, as flexible as its original
model, which proudly flares at the rear of my former body. I rotate to
fully absorb a rear view. There my figure is as curvaceous as previously,
although a longer version. My fairy cat godmother has botched the job!
Not enough ambrosia? Too little anise? Incorrect incantation? The cooking
time wrong? Who knows? My distress heightens as I distinctly hear the
rumble of a car engine turning into the driveway, then the garage door
open and its subsequent descent. Think fast, you idiot! My mind races.
I can’t just hide in a corner, curl up in the closet now. No coward at
heart, I must concoct an explanation quickly or ruin my chance forever.
I am rewarded with inspiration just as I hear my master’s footsteps ascending
the stairs. I bite my lip and pray I can pull it off.
I hide behind the den door, knowing he will head straight there.
My instincts are right. He enters and just as he eases himself into his
desk chair, I pop out from behind the door and shout, “Surprise, honey,
He takes one look at me and bursts out laughing. Finally, gaining
control of himself, he asks, “And to what do I owe this little surprise?”
“The training seminar was rudimentary. I wheedled my way out of
tomorrow’s session. How do you like my outfit?”
“Where did you get it? At Victoria’s Secret?”
“How did you guess?”
“It wasn’t easy,” he laughed. “Come here, you vixen.” He pulls
me down into his lap. No sooner am I comfortably seated than he exclaims,
“What’s this?” He tugs at my tail.
“It’s part of my costume. A new seductive touch the Victoria’s
Secret designers have added to their list. Do you like it?”
“You betcha . . .” He leaps up. He grabs me so tightly that he
knocks the breath out of me for a second. His rough cheek against mine
does not feel so pleasant and when he smacks his lips against mine, I
think, this is enough! His whiskers rub me the wrong way. I squirm out
of his hold, pushing him backwards. The leer in his eye alerts me that
I am in for more than I bargained for. As he bolts towards me, I evade
his grasp, stooping and sliding out from under his arms. I race out the
door and down the hall with my master in pursuit. He thinks it is all
a game, but not me. I want out of here as fast as my legs can carry me.
I make tracks out the den. I round a corner and duck behind a rubber plant
just in time to let him pass. Then I retrace my path, running in the opposite
direction and down the stairs. He stubs his toe on the base of a pedestal
and halts his progress to curse long enough for me to scoot into the laundry
room and cower in a corner. I cringe there, hoping he will abandon the
play, and crying aloud, “Why, did I ever covet the life of a woman? A
cat’s life was perfect. Who wants to be a woman and suffer these indignities
day in and day out? Not me!”
“So you want to be a cat again? Couldn’t last twenty-four hours
as a human female?” It was Nabila. She sits on her haunches on top of
the clothes dryer. “Recognition of your innate independence dawns, does
it? There’s only so much unsolicited attention felines can tolerate. I’m
willing to reverse the operation.” Nabila smirks atop her perch while
I crouch in the space between the washing machine and the wall, my knees
up to my chin. What an ungainly, indecorous position. I wish with all
my might for my supple hindquarters and flexible spine.
Chastened, I confess, “Okay, so I’m a scaredy cat. I chickened
out of being a woman.
” The ankh’s bright jewels sparkle around her neck. Nabila’s green
eyes fasten upon my scantily clad form, their white rays boring into my
shame and humiliation. She pads closer, the ambrosia filling my nostrils.
“Lick the ankh,” she commands.
I bend my head down and extend my tongue. I close my eyes without
her directing me to do so. The licorice-flavor inundates my taste buds.
“Arrum-Meow-Arrim-Arram-Shakar-Akrazam-Akrazar,” she pronounces
in mellifluous purrs. “Be ever mindful that you are descended from the
Egyptian Mau, temple cat, companion of kings and queens.
” I feel my body implode, a constriction of mass, then a prickling
sensation, which extends the length and breadth of the surface of my body.
I watch follicles unfold, quickly multiplying into a mass of thick fur.
My spine bows, my tail shrinks, and I regain the compactness of form that
suits my nature exactly. I feel at home in my body. Just as I was about
to open my eyes and bound forward, Nabila says. “Not yet. Keep your eyes
closed and count forward from one to a hundred . . . slowly . . . leisurely
. . . I must caution you . . . as if you were licking your fur with rolling
tongue. After you reach one hundred, you may open your eyes.”
“Thank you, oh, thank you, fairy cat godmother,” I reply.
I deliberately pronounce each number and the more I count, the
more the numbers recede into throaty purrs, the vestiges of human speech
fading the closer I approach the magic number. Reaching one hundred, I
open my eyes. I can no longer see over the top of the washing machine.
I fit comfortably into the space between the wall and the washer. Anxious
to try out my cat limbs, I leap to the top of the machine. No sooner do
I safely land, when I catch the sound of my master shouting, “Priscilla,
Priscilla, where are you? Come out wherever you are. ”
I jump off the washer and pad out the laundry room door. Nonchalantly,
I walk in from of him, where he circles the kitchen, a bewildered look
on his face.
“Where on earth could she have gone?” he is saying. He notices
me as I head quietly up the stairs, but does not immediately acknowledge
He scratches his head. “That beats all.” Abruptly, he turns towards
me to observe me as I ascend the stairs. “Gretchen, am I hallucinating?
I could have sworn Priscilla was here, but in a get-up totally out of
character.” (Humans like to talk to us whenever there are no other humans
with whom to vocalize. Far be it from us to purr to ourselves.) He shakes
his head. “I give up. If she really is here anywhere, she’ll come out
when she’s good and ready.” He drops his arms in a gesture of resignation
to his side and follows me up to the den.
Needless to say, my mistress does not reappear until the following
evening. When she returns, I am curled at my master’s feet. His face is
glued to the computer monitor as usual. He doesn’t hear her tiptoe up
the stairs, but I do. I play as if I’m asleep, but am all ears. His back
is toward the door as she stealthily approaches from the rear. She reaches
his desk chair and flings her arms around his neck.
He swivels in his chair and then that awful kissy-pooh stuff starts
again. Ho-hum – I try to ignore it and catch a few more winks of sleep.
After a few minutes, she starts blathering about her training session
a mile a minute. My master listens attentively, adding a comment occasionally
in her stream of narration. Eventually, she runs out of steam and there
is a short break of silence, then my mistress asks. “Did you miss me?”
My master clears his throat before he replies, “Did I!” He pauses
a few seconds before continuing, a more serious tone rising in his voice.
“The strangest thing happened while you were gone. I could have sworn
you were here last night as real as life. Did you make a quick appearance
as some kind of practical joke?”
“Joke? Why, no! How could I rush here and rush back to Chicago?”
“That’s what I would like to know. Stranger than that was the
lingerie you were wearing?”
“Yeah, you should do that more often. Seductive lace baby dolls
with garter belt, hose and five-inch heels.”
“You’ve got to be out of your mind!”
“Maybe . . . a dream or temporary derangement I don’t know . .
. but you were a scream!”
“Overactive imagination, I’d say,” she said. I detect a sour note
in her words.
“Aw, don’t be mad. You had the cutest cat tail attached to your
This time she laughs and carries on a considerable time without
any abatement in her amusement. Finally, her cackles subside, and flushed
with her merriment, she says, “I can’t think of an animal I’d rather be!”