Cats With Opposable Thumbs and the Fall of Man: How Love, Death & Robots Got It Wrong
Late one evening, my cousin (RJT) sent me an urgent text. I needed to watch Three Robots, episode two of the Netflix anthology series, Love, Death & Robots, ASAP.
Twenty-Two hours later, I watched Three Robots; a humorous little ditty featuring three robots, wandering through a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland, speculating on the cause of man’s extinction.
Enter cat; purring, rubbing, and generally being cute. The gang ends up in a missile silo. Did nuclear war wipe out the humans, or did the deterioration of natural resources finally render the planet uninhabitable?
Neither. ‘Twas kitty killed mankind. As the episode closed, the cat spoke and raised his paw. He revealed cats took over the world after humans genetically engineered them to have opposable thumbs. My stomach imploded. Opposable fucking thumbs. That was my idea.
The episode just rendered my life’s work, Opposable, redundant and irrelevant.
After a brief but severe panic attack, I gathered my wits. Of course the idea of cats with opposable thumbs wasn’t mine. Humans have been anthropomorphizing cats since the days of ancient Egypt (I think). A 2011 Cravendale milk ad featured cats with opposable thumbs.
Earliest records indicate I started writing Opposable in 2008. Here’s a screenshot to prove it.
Still, cats with opposable thumbs was never my idea. It may have come to me independently, but I held no exclusive rights to it.
Borrowed and implanted ideas is another concept Opposable addresses. In the story, the narrator is given an idea, a Spark, to attach opposable thumbs on his cats by an entity called the I. Thought spores travel across the universe through quantum channels, Spires, and plant ideas in particularly fertile minds.
So, here’s an author using borrowed ideas, writing about a man using borrowed ideas and attaching opposable thumbs onto cats. Very meta.
Once I accepted the fact there are no original ideas, even ones as specific as this, I turned my pout inside-out and considered how I could use this revelation. Cats are trending. Just look at mainstream media; Captain Marvel, Love, Death & Robots, and now Pet Sematary.
Plus, those other people got it wrong. Cats won’t become the dominant species on Earth after humans genetically engineer them to have opposable thumbs. That would take way too long. They haven’t been hiding their thumbs, waiting for the day to rule the world. We would notice. And cats do not, and never will, speak human languages. That’s just ridiculous. Their mouths don’t have the right musculature.
No, cats obtain superhuman abilities; increased size and intelligence, complete hormonal control, and telepathy, after some dumbass decides to give them prosthetic opposable thumbs. Use of the thumbs activates dormant regions of the cats’ brains and alters their genome from within. I like to call it artificial punctuated quantum hyper-evolution. Now they can breed a mutant feline army and lay waste to the world of men.
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Until next time, don’t bother me. I’m creating monsters.