If you follow celebrity cats on the Internet, you know about Maru, the Japanese round raccoon-faced cat who loves boxes.
Last week, Maru hired an Assistant Cat, Hana.
But first she had to make it through the interview:
Maru: So you want to be my Assistant Cat, do ya?
Hana: Every cat I know does!
Maru: Why do you want to be my assistant?
Hana: I want to be your assistant because you have your paws full with too much work and too many boxes for one cat.
Maru: This is true. Let’s talk about the boxes. Can you sit in boxes? Jump in them? Boxes that are too small for you, oddly-shaped, too tall or too thin?
Hana: Yes, I can handle all kinds of boxes. I fits where I sits.
Maru: Excellent. This position isn’t all about boxes, though. I’d like to discuss your media relations skills. On occasion you might be asked to appear on TV or go on press junkets with me. Have you done any commercials?
Hana: You mean like for insurance?
Maru: No. For cat things.
Hana: Oh, yes. Well, sort of.
Maru: Sort of?
Hana: Yes, I was an extra once for a kitty litter commercial, but I didn’t make the final cut because I kicked litter out of the box. It was a mistake, I admit. I usually don’t do that. I assure you, I am fastidious in The Box and mindful to cover completely.
Maru: Good, because you have to be very clean at all times. No hairballs, no fur in the food, and certainly no stinky things left outside The Box, understood?
Maru: I want to talk about your education. It says here on your resume you studied at NY Mew and majored in Napping and Playing, and minored in Personal Grooming. Tell me about the programs.
Hana: Well, Napping and Playing is a rigorous program. You would think Napping would be a cake walk, but not true. We often had in-class lab work where we had to nap the whole period. Proctors would come around and poke us, but we were instructed never to stir.
And for our course assignments, we had to nap some more. And when we finished napping, we had to nap again. It was harder than it sounds because sometimes you don’t want to nap. Sometimes you want to play with milk jug caps, but you’re not allowed. You have to keep sleeping.
Maru: How did you cope with the stress of all that napping?
Hana: I played after class for like ten minutes, really hard. And then I could nap again. Sometimes for seven hours straight. You find a way, you know?
Maru: What were your Playing courses like?
Hana: Well, our classes were pretty standard. String, chasing the red dot, cat nip mousie. That sort of thing. I aced all those courses. But I like to think I’ve advanced beyond regular play.
Maru: How so?
Hana: Well, for my Independent Research Project, I demonstrated that it’s possible to run down the stairs at the feet of your owner and not make them fall and break a leg. My research showed that nipping at heels can still be fun if you simply remain behind the subject at all times.
All the current literature shows that most cats insist on getting in front of the subjects, which causes a hazard and leads to injury. My research is currently under review for publication in the International Journal of Feline Leisure and Play.
Maru: I’m very impressed with your scholarly work. Now tell me about your Personal Grooming program.
Hana: Personal Grooming was all about presentation. We were graded on technique, duration and percent of cleanliness. I excelled at technique, if I may say so. Paw-to-face cleaning is my specialty.
Maru: What were your exams like?
Hana: Most of them involved the purrfessor mussing up our fur and then we’d have to spend the entire class period grooming ourselves back to normal. One of my classmates failed a course because he kept leaving a mohawk on his head. For some cats, it’s very difficult to groom that area.
Maru: True, true. Now I’d like to ask you some behavioral questions. Can you give an example of how you used logic to solve a problem?
Hana: Yes. Many times my food bowl gets empty. Well, not quite empty. You still have plenty of food, but you can see the bottom of the bowl. You know and I know this is unacceptable. I realized if you dump the entire bowl over, the mom will come around and clean it up and refill the bowl to a heaping mound. This tactic has never failed me.
Maru: Fantastic. Did you ever postpone making a decision and why?
Hana: Yes, many times I think I want to get up off the couch, stretch, yawn and walk in a circle a bit. But then I decide to instead just roll over and sleep longer. Then I get up later and do it. Waiting longer ensures I have met my daily requirement of doing absolutely nothing for hours at a time.
Maru: OK, so I’m feeling pretty good about your qualifications, Hana. If I give you this job, the pay rate is one blankie, full meals with occasional treats, twelve assorted toys, plus a signing bonus of one medium-sized box. Do you think you have what it takes to be my assistant?
Hana: I do! I do! Can I start right away?
Maru: You may. Welcome to the family!
* Photos courtesy Maru.