Thus for a creature who anticipates the satisfaction of his earthly wants with the kind of unblinking certainty with which pre-Copernican peoples accepted their planetary centrality, the modernist prospect of a non-unified self causes considerable consternation. Certain amongst us had long noticed that, upon confronting our otherwise complacent house mammal with the tufts of his own fur that drift off as one strokes his broad backside, he will rise up with nearly unprecedented avidity, sniffing and prodding the proffered artifact with increasing alarm until, in a spiral of epistemological vertigo and ontological despair, he will literally attempt to ingest the fugitive scrap of self as if to reinstate the order of his once unified, now perilously fragmented self. (This attempt is rarely permitted, however, due to a tendency on his part to cultivate hairballs.)
Sam’s horror of and refusal to accept the possibility of the fragmented self, then, seemed the most likely motivation for the defacement of my bed sheets that I discovered one afternoon, returning home after a night’s absence. I found the door to my bedroom closed—an anomaly in itself—and upon its opening was greeted by the deranged cries of my feline friend and a distinctly unpleasant odor. I soon surmised that the door, normally propped open in my absence in order to grant ease of ingress and egress to all inhabitants lacking opposable thumbs, had been slammed shut by an untimely gust of wind, effectively sealing Sam within the narrow confines of the bedroom—a room that lacks such amenities as a litter box. Ostensibly, at some time during his unplanned confinement, Nature had called, and our quadruped hero, lacking the usual facilities with which to answer it, had instead relieved himself on my bed. However, I came to suspect a rather different and indeed more metaphysical motivation behind my stained and reeking bed sheets. In the aftermath, while stripping the bed of these offending linens, I was struck by the thickness of accumulated cat hair; the bed being a favorite lounging spot of Sam’s, its sheets had acquired something of the consistency of a hair shirt. It struck me that, trapped for hours in a small room, Sam grew to actively loathe and fear the paradox of fragmented self that the cat hair fleeced sheets presented (“if this is me, and that’s me, and this is me, but that’s me, too…). Like a firefighter rushing to extinguish the flames of a burning building, Sam, after several hours of identity-threatening bewilderment, had sprayed the offending party with his own urine. As he had inevitably intended, the act resulted, upon my return, in the hasty removal of those wretched and taunting sheets. Sam, freed of his prison and metaphysical angst, removed himself to the kitchen, where he proceeded to further solidify his self with a bowl of kibble.