Kitty LeFey’s Cosmos: Leagues of Days

Kitty LeFey’s Cosmos: Leagues of Days

The words “steampunk cat” likely bring to mind metallic, anthropomorphized images and figurines, possibly bearing clocks and definitely all geared up. Most such felines can be found in shop windows and adult coloring books.

Only Verne can be found at Tabby’s Place: A Cat Sanctuary. Verne? Eyes and ears perk up worldwide…at least, they should. More needs to be known about this calico wonder of swirls and whirls. To start, Verne is a very typical Victorian lady. That is to say, she defies all constraints and rumors about how she is supposed to behave. Her decorum suggests refinement. Her bearing suggests a posh ancestry. Looks can be deceiving.

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We know that Victorian women were supposedly prim and proper. Novels and histories of the time mostly tell us so. The truth is, the evidence often doesn’t support these notions of primness and meek propriety. Victorian women were steampunk through and through.

For instance, Florence Nightingale advanced nursing during the Crimean War. Ada Lovelace ignored conventions and embarked on a career in mathematics, not to mention some other unconventional behaviors. Queen Victoria, a long-lived monarch, was perhaps the sole soul that imbued the depths of the ideals of steampunk into modern fiction and fandom. Verne outshines them all.

Verne even outshines Jules Verne, who is considered by many to be the originator of steampunk, even though the depths of the genre took almost 80 years and many leagues to surface after his final publication.

The depths of Verne cannot be calculated in leagues (20,000? Please! Oh, Captain Nemo, if only you could know!) The timetable of Verne spans time beyond days (80? Scoffable!), weeks, months, years, or even an infinity of eons. When a cat defies such numericals, yet contains master craftwork of engineering, physics, and clockwork, new approaches to understanding must be undertaken. Thus, we return to Tabby’s Place.

Arriving in April 2024, Verne did as all newcomers at Tabby’s Place do, she bided her time in intake awaiting the all clear. While there, she drew up plans for a marvelous, jointed colossus that could roam the halls at night delivering fish mush and crunchy cookies on demand. She scrapped her plans when she was introduced into Suite A and learned that a sufficiency of humans existed to do the same, and each with the ability to detect the locations of particularly itchy spots. Undeterred and ever in search of discovery, Verne considered her new cosmos and set about setting down new blueprints. She started by reviewing the blueprints of her new home.

Tabby’s Place, she discovered, is a very special, very particular haven that exists at the center of a universe of kindness. Each office and suite is a self-contained galaxy. Each cat within is a star system. In this world, time is kept more accurately than even the Prague astronomical clock can achieve. Dinnertimes, lunchtimes, weighing times, medicine times, and more all proceed in an exactingly inexact, precisely imprecise fluid motion.

In the middle of all of this, Verne looked in upon herself within a cozy cubby. Examining all the facts, reexamining the blueprints (yes, including Quinn’s Corner), Verne arrived at exactly the truth, which is the exact conclusion every Tabby’s Place cat arrives at: she is the center of the Earth. Without her molten, revolving, metallic core, this very world would either fly apart in a sparkling shower of dust, or it would collapse in on itself, becoming a dull, lifeless blob of rock.

Luckily for us, Earth is safe. Luckily for Verne, she is safe. Being a resident of Tabby’s Place means that she has entered a world where the only expectation is that she be a cat. As such, Verne is considering her career options. Should she become a physician like Elizabeth Blackwell or an author like Elizabeth Gaskell? Verne is obsessed with the name “Elizabeth,” but only in the sense that it implies the right to rule, which she already has anyway. She is quite content with owning a name that tells so much of her story with only a single syllable.

Verne encompasses all of science and every word of fiction. Verne is steampunk. Verne is a Tabby’s Place cat, once and always. Verne has already experienced her first carefully considered relocation to Suite B. It’s bigger than Suite A. There are ample cozy cubbies. There is a view of the lobby and, therefore, the inner workings of the sanctuary. Verne is settling in to draw up a new plan for her future. It might take leagues of days, but Verne is preparing for her next journey. Her aim is a forever home with a loving family and more private spaces. Until then, she is teaching us the true meaning of steampunk and how to measure time as a distance.

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