Were You a Cat in a Former Life?

According to a Gallup/C.N.N./U.S.A. Today poll, one in four Americans believes in reincarnation. Many people who hold this belief also avow that reincarnation is a two-way channel: Animals can be reborn as people, and people can come back as animals. Moreover, experiences in past lives are thought to explain a person's behavior in this one. I am convinced, for example, that my fondness for cats dates from the Old Kingdom in Egypt, when I was minister of agriculture for Emporer Tutucommon.

If some people did spend a previous life (or lives) on all fours, chances are good that a few of those fours were cat paws. But how can a body be sure? In truth, certitude is in the mind of the beholder. That's the beauty of it. So if you suspect that your passion for salmon is more of a cosmic statement than a simple taste preference, the following guide will help you to decide if you were a cat in a previous existence.

You Might Have Been a Cat If ...

You might have been a cat in a former life if you don't feel rested unless you get 14 to 18 hours sleep each day; if you seize your steak between your teeth, shake it vigorously, then bat it around your plate before eating it; if your gaze narrows, your mouth twitches, and you sink into a murderous crouch at the sight of a mouse; or if you indicate affection for people by rubbing your face against their legs.

There might be a cat in your past-lives tree if you can hear small, faint, rustling sounds that no one else can detect; if you consider yourself healthy as long as your nose is cool and slightly damp; if you have frequent urges to relieve yourself in the bathtub; if you can't resist batting at pony tail plants whenever you pass them; or if you believe you can read more in a person's hindquarters than in his handshake.

You may have answered to the name Sylvester once upon a time if you prefer a spit bath to a sponge bath; if you try to bury your food with your napkin when you've eaten enough; if you worry when your temperature falls below 100 degrees; if you prefer catnip to lemon in your tea; or if you climbed trees far more frequently and faster than the average child.

You may have had exceptionally long whiskers in the past if you just had your children microchipped so that anyone who finds them will be able to return them to you; if you consider bottle-feeding the invention of the devil; if you think a flea bath is more practical than a bubble bath; if you clean your teeth by chewing on hard candy, or if you got sick after the office party last Christmas because you ate the mistletoe.

Chances are your ears were formerly pointed and furry if you wish you could lick your entire nose; if you put pills in a mound of baby food before you take them; if you couldn't stand to read about the High Middle Ages in history class; if you think a few mouthfuls of grass are the best cure for an upset stomach;; if you wouldn't dream of taking your temperature with a mouth thermometer; or if you've never been very good at team sports.

Your chromosomes may have numbered 38 at one time if you hid your children in the closet when they were newborns; if you wake your friends by licking their faces; if you don't see what's so terrible about promiscuity; if you sometimes turn around and bite a person who has been giving you a back rub; if you would rather sleep on a warm car hood than in your bed; if you can swivel your ears more than the average person can; or if you blink at people to show you like them.

You may have been covered with your own cat fur in a previous life if your vestigial tail is more than slightly vestigial; if your vertical leap is triple your height; if you prefer your food at room temperature; if you wear sunglasses to hide the reddish glow your eyes give off at night; if you tried to eat the placenta when you had your first child; if you frequently sit on the newspaper when someone is reading it; or if your sense of balance is better than anyone's you know.

You may have been a cat before if you think the taste of antifreeze is keen; if you are drawn to sit on the lap of anyone who doesn't like you; if you still won't eat your vegetables; if you put dead mice in your children's Christmas stockings; if you never cared for sweets; if you've seen the musical Cats 19 times; or if you often wear unmatching socks.

Your normal heart rate was probably 240 beats per minute at one time if you knew your name as a child but wouldn't answer to it; if your idea of a pleasant evening is to sit around with a few friends grooming one another; if you get really annoyed when anyone stares at you; if you can taste the difference between Evian, Perrier, and Poland Spring waters every time; if you've always wanted a handlebar mustache; if you're more allergic to fleas than most people are; or if you like your bath towels the texture of sandpaper.

Obviously, the more of these traits you possess, the greater the chance you were a cat in a previous life. Which may explain why you prefer to drink out of a bowl rather than a glass. But the crucial question is: What about the next life? Given what you know about people and the way they treat cats, would you want to have four legs instead of two the next time around?

Phil Maggitti

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