A 'cat' moment is the moment that a connection is discovered within a group of disparate objects and the discovery of this connection allows new connections to be discovered and a new view of the world to form. It is very similar to an eureka moment or an epiphany. Perhaps it can best be explained by the example that gives the 'cat' moment its name.

In a kindergarten classroom somewhere in the English speaking world, a teacher writes three letters on a blackboard:


"What letter is this?" the teacher asks, pointing to the C.

"Cee!" shout the kids.

"Very good," continues the teacher, "and how about this one?"

Class: "Ay!"

Teacher: "Excellent! And this one?"

Class: "Tee!"

Teacher: "Very good, class. Now let's make the sound of these letters! What's the 'C' sound like?"

Class: "Cah!"

Teacher: "...and this one?"

Class: "Ahh!"

Teacher: "...and this?"

Class: "Tuh!"

Teacher: "Excellent! Now, say them as I point to them. Ready? Here we go!"

Class: "Cah, ahh, tuh. Caa, ahh, tuh. Caa-ahh-tuh. Caa-ahh-tuh."

Suddenly a boy in the front row shouts "cat!" and the universe stops for him. The hair on his neck stands on end as he realizes a profound truth. These letters, these squiggles on the blackboard in the shape of C, A and T actually reference an object in the physical world. This set of letters and sounds called "the alphabet" is actually a representation of any word in the world. A storable, saveable concept of thought. New meaning is found and the boy is enlightened. For a tiny instant he feels at one with the entire universe in the elation of his 'cat' moment.

The feeling fades quickly and the world is normal again, but the insight gained in that moment will stay with the boy for the rest of his life.

So long as we continue thinking, observing, asking questions and learning, we will have 'cat' moments throughout our entire lives. The first 'cat' moment I can remember was learning that counting objects in groups of two or five could be done the same way as counting objects one at a time. My most recent 'cat' moment occured when I understood how the fork() computer command works. There is nothing like a good 'cat' moment to remind you that the universe is full of wonder.

Dedicated to my Grade 12 physics teacher Ms. Toblan and my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Fish.

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