By Bobby Neal Winters As you may recall, some time back in this space, I put forth the theory that whenever you have two cats, the existence of a third cat can be manifested by their mere presence. The theory is that “virtual” cats exist all around us in space and are constantly winking in and out of existence at a rate that is too fast for human observation. However, if a pair of real cats is in the area when one of these virtual cats pops into existence, then the virtual cat can become permanently real. My wife, Jean, thinks that they just come to the food, but she doesn’t know anything about physics. I, on the other hand, took a few classes in physics over twenty years ago, and therefore, I am an expert in the field. “Cat Physics”, as I call it, seems to be a fertile area for research, yet there are surprisingly few who are interested in studying the subject. It is a shame to see so many closed minds among scientists. I recently observed another mechanism by which virtual cats may pop into existence. One day during my church’s weeklong session of vacation bible school, a kitten appeared seemingly out of thin air. My wife, untutored in physics as she is, thinks that someone saw a group of kids congregated on church grounds as an opportunity to rid themselves of a cat. I cannot believe anyone would do such a thing. It is clear to me that the presence of a sufficient number of children can also cause virtual cats appearing in a particular region of space-time to become real. The kitten took a particular liking to my middle child, who it followed all around the church campus. My family brought the kitten to my home that evening and introduced it to me as “Shadow.” “Because it followed me around like a shadow, Daddy,” the Middle Child said. “It liked me better than anyone else.” She smiled, my heart melted. I let them keep the kitten in spite of my better judgment. As you may recall, I believe that my house has been decreed to have three cats by the natural laws of the universe. We had two, but then the third appeared, however there has never been a forth—until now. In my naïve beliefs of the old days, I had thought that one of the cats would simply disappear. However, nature is much more subtle than I am. The events, as they have played themselves out, are very revealing as to the complexity of this phenomenon. At feeding time, only three of the four cats ever show up. I think that the fourth cat is pushed into an alternate universe for the duration of the meal. My wife remains oddly silent on this point, only shaking her head and twirling her index finger in the vicinity of her temple. The true complexity of this phenomenon was shown me the other day as I was running out of the house on an errand. My family had left only a few minutes before, heading in another direction, on another errand. As I left out the front door, I heard a sound, not unlike the cry of a small child, coming from the direction of the garage. I did a double-take because I knew that all of my children were gone. I looked toward the back yard, which is by the garage, and saw nothing. I had started out on my errand again when I heard the same sound. I turned toward the garage again, but this time I looked at the top of the door. There, at the top, caught between the garage and the door, was Shadow, our new kitten, or his lower half, to be precise. To put it simply, I freaked. There is not one-sixteenth of an inch between the garage and the door when the garage door is shut. You can’t get the blade of a knife between them, as they say. But there was the lower half of the kitten pressed flat and mrwrowling, with its feet kicking feebly. I entered the garage through the side, pressed the button to open the door, and Shadow dropped to the floor. I expected to see something grisly when I glanced over, but the kitten still seemed to be intact. I thought, “I must take her to the vet.” Then I thought that a wounded animal might be dangerous. I remembered that it is possible to wrap a cat in a towel when it is injured to keep it from scratching you and began to search for one in the yard. (If you are asking yourself why I was looking for a towel in the yard, then you don’t have kids.) Finding no towel, I looked at Shadow again and saw that she seemed to be “re-inflated.” She was still walking as if she had given birth to a porcupine in breech, but she was walking. I decided to let time deal with her a while and ran my errand with the idea that if she weren’t better when I got back, then I would take her to the vet. Even at this late date, I try to limit the money that I spend on animals that I have received for “free.” When I got back from my errand, Shadow was as if nothing had happened. The only difference is that she is now my shadow instead of my daughter’s. My wife says that our cats have always liked to sleep on that garage door during the summer, because the metal is cool. Jean thinks that Shadow was asleep up there, the door closed on her, and that the thin metal of the garage door and the kitten’s slender body both had enough give that real damage was avoided, but I have another theory. At some point, two of the other cats were on our property and a third entered halfway. This caused half of Shadow to wink into another space-time continuum. When I opened the garage door, the third cat was scared off, and this allow Shadow to fully re-enter our space-time continuum. Or maybe I am just full of it.