I woke at dawn this morning to the sound of a cat meowing next to my bed. It rubbed against me, strangely insistent. Its affect alarmed me, and its worry worried me. “Maybe it’s hungry,” I said. So I got up and gave it some food, but the cat, looking disgusted, turned away from the dish. “Maybe it’s thirsty,” I said. So I led it toward the water, but the cat was indifferent to it. The cat gazed at me with a look that spoke of pains and sorrows in its soul. Its appearance affected me so severely that I wished I were Solomon, so that I would understand the language of animals. Then I could know the cat’s needs and ease its cares.
The door to the room was closed, and I noticed that the cat stared at it at length and stuck close to me whenever it saw me heading toward the door. I realized what the cat was after – it wanted me to open the door for it. I hastened to do so, and no sooner had the cat glimpsed the open space and seen the sky than its whole disposition transformed from sadness and distress to happiness and delight. The cat dashed out, and I returned to my bed. I rested my head in my hands and started thinking about this cat. The whole thing intrigued me. “I wonder,” I said, “does the cat understand the meaning of freedom? It’s sad when it loses its freedom and happy to find it. Yes – it understands what freedom truly means. It feels sorrow, it cries, it shuns food and drink only for the sake of freedom; it begs, it pleads, it rubs and implores only in pursuit of freedom.”