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The Crowded Acre: Cats and Taxes

By Jen Welch

When I was about five years old, I remember nervously asking my mom about taxes. I was concerned that I wouldn’t know when to pay or how much I owed. Add to that the fact that there were multiple types of taxes, varying tax rates and several tax collection entities to make sense of. At this point in my life, I only knew two things with any certainty: I would never get married in the state of Georgia (which required a blood draw to do so – presumably to make sure you weren’t too closely related to your betrothed), and that I loathed the idea of paying taxes. Fast forward thirty years and not much has changed. I moved to a state that doesn’t require blood draws in order to become legally married and I still abhor tax season. Let’s just say that I’m part dutiful-citizen, part taxation-is-theft. Truthfully, I should be preparing my taxes now but, I’m hoping that if I put it off long enough, maybe the zombie apocalypse will finally start and we can all do something more useful with our time

About the same time I first began worrying about our complex tax code and how it would affect my future livelihood, I received my very first pet: a cat. He was orange and his name was Charlie and we both enjoyed my sandbox very much, but for entirely different reasons. And even though he exuded a strong sense of superiority over my kind, I remember feeling like we belonged together; two lost souls that had been searching for something more meaningful than just plain survival. He ran away at some point and I never saw him again, but my love for cats and disdain for sandboxes had officially been ignited. So much, in fact, that outside of the brief period when we were overrun by fornicating hamsters, I can’t really remember a time when I haven’t had a cat by my side.

[InContentAdTwo] This time of year is simultaneously the best and the worst. After procrastinating for as long as humanly possible, I am forced to sit in front of a computer for a solid week organizing my tax documents. My five-year-old fears are realized when I try to make sense of the paperwork spread out before me. On the bright side, there is a litter of fresh kittens on the floor in my closet and an overly affectionate mama cat inside the house. When feeling overwhelmed at performing my civic duties, I can waltz into my room and revert back to my carefree, younger self. Of course, this is the equivalent of trading one master for another. As a result, my tax preparation looks something like this: sit down and organize papers, get up and let mama cat outside, log several entries into computer, get up and let mama cat inside, fill out forms I barely understand, fix something to eat, fix mama cat something to eat so she will let me eat in peace, eat – though not necessarily in peace, snuggle with mama cat as payment for her sustenance, be informed – by violent attack – that snuggle time is now over, blankly stare at the computer, go to closet and play with kittens, go back to computer, wait for zombie apocalypse to begin. How different can this really be from the tax preparation rituals of the majority of Americans?

As far as I’m concerned, Benjamin Franklin had it half right. Taxes are, for the forseeable future, a certainty. But I would argue that the other certainty in this life is cats. From the sands of ancient Egypt to the corridors in Hemingway’s abode to the closet floors of American taxpayers across the nation, cats are an abundant feature. Much like our government, they have captured our loyalties and used their powers to enter us into a type of half-willing servitude which we can never hope to escape. If only we could teach these cats to file our taxes and to not defecate in childrens’ sandboxes, then perhaps we could begin to prove ourselves as the superior species. Or, at the very least, train them to fight beside us in the zombie apocalypse … until then, we’ll just keep paying our taxes and buying cat food and waiting for the end of it all.

Jen Welch lives and writes in the upper Arkansas River Valley. She will begin training her cat army once it can properly be determined who is actually in charge around here.