A Modest Proposal

Static electricity on the common cat could save you hundreds of dollars on your light bill every month!
Static electricity on the common cat could save you hundreds of dollars on your light bill every month!

Jonathon Swift, arguably one of the English languages most prominent essayist, pamphleteers, and satirists, is known for his rapier sharp retorts and dry wit. Those not familiar with the intricacies of satire are probably not aware that it follows very clear rules of meter and verse, and rather than just a humorous way of poking fun at concepts which are taken too seriously, may be viewed as a form of poetry, in and of itself.

Regrettably, Mr. Swift used this verse out of sheer habit when penning the one serious work of his career, entitled A Modest Proposal For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public. It seems that, among the many modern comforts they lacked in the early 18th century, editors were included, else it would’ve been shortened to A Modest Proposal, such as it is referred to now.

In this work, Mr. Swift addresses the serious problem of poverty and hunger among the lower classes of his native Ireland. He puts forth a number of practices which would ease the burden of the poor, but perhaps none so effective as his suggestion that children be consumed. He says, "A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragoust."

Perhaps, had he been taken seriously, the economic state of Ireland, and indeed much of the world, would be markedly different than it is now. None can say for certain. But whatever the case, it is this enterprising, forthright, and direct mindset which I have admired over the years, and sought to emulate in hopes of dealing with the problems we face in everyday life, if in some small way.

To that effect, I respectfully submit a modest proposal of my own for consideration, and hope that with popular support will find the funds to enact this in a functional prototype, and eventually on a mass scale.

Just as Mr. Swift’s proposal focused on the eminent worry of his day (hunger), mine focuses on the worry of the modern world (energy).

The issue lies in the Law of Conservation of Energy, stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed, simply changed from one state to another. Thus, when a lump of coal or a gallon of gasoline is burned, the energy potential in these things is dissipated in the form of light and heat. And for every iteration by which energy goes from fuel source to desired effect, energy is lost. Wasted.

The solution then is to find a natural occurrence which bears close similarity to a desired effect.

The common AC electrical motor at its most simple form if made up of two parts: a stator and rotor. The stator is stable and unmoving, surrounding the rotor, which can turn like a spindle or crankshaft. When an electrical current is passed through the stator, it creates an electromagnetic field whose poles shift rapidly, causing the rotor to spin. Anything run by a crankshaft can conceivably be connected to the rotor.

Conversely, should the structure of the motor be changed, an outside force can be used to turn the rotor and eventually generate an electrical current within the stator.

After some searching, I believe I’ve found a source which could be harnessed to create both electrical and kinetic energy, and it’s come about by considering two old and common truisms.

1. A cat will always land on its feet.

2. When buttered and dropped onto carpet, a piece of toast will always land butter-side down.

Outwardly, there seems to be little value in these sayings, but when you pair them, the possibilities are virtually endless. All you need do is tie a piece of toast butter-side up to the back of a cat and drop it onto a carpet.

Despite common thought, the cat will not in fact hover. The dissonance between both cat and toast will fluctuate, generating an effect not unlike that of an unstable magnetic field, meaning the cat will begin to spin along its longest axis, parallel with the carpet.

With the addition of a crankshaft along the length of the cat’s spine, we begin to see a natural stator and rotor, just as with the electrical motor. Should a hoop of carpeting be used instead of a single flat surface and the cat be a long-haired breed, it’s possible that the resulting static electrical potential could be harnessed as an electrical generator as well.

Naturally, the implications of a device so simple and cheap is staggering. It would make nuclear power, solar electricity, gasoline, and hydrogen obsolete.

It is important, however, that we not jump the gun here. There are a number of factors which must first be established and overcome before the benefits of an in-house kitty generator can be reaped. Due to a cat’s relatively low bodyweight, it is unlikely in the extreme that a kitty-powered engine would provide the necessary torque to motivate a vehicle. To that end, a series of gear linkages becomes necessary to translate the kitty’s high-speed, low-torque output to a car’s variable-speed, variable-torque needs. A device to keep the toast buttered on a continuous basis can likely be built by using an interrupting gear attached to the kitty’s crankshaft as well as liquid spray butter. Further tests will be required to establish whether or not different types of butter (and toast, for that matter) have an effect on the total output of the system.

Also, and perhaps more importantly for the sake of your carpeting and drapes, early versions of the kitty-powered generator will have to take into account the cost of large quantities of Dramamine. Later iterations of the generator will hopefully make use of cats bred to be highly tolerant to motion sickness, but the demands of the hour require that early versions as well as the prototype will have to make use of whatever cats can be found at the local shelter and from the crazy single woman down the street who owns 70 of them, all named Bob.

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Comments 16 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

I must not be well. This hub made perfect sense. All except the 70 cats named Bob. That's not correct. Half of them are named Betty.

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Ingenious! I can see now where the next Nobel prize for engineering is heading! :-)))

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

I love the idea! Kitty generators would save so much trouble, after all, getting more cats should never be a problem. They seem to multiply quite rapidly, and no one can complain about fossil fuels, if live cats are in use.

One question: Does this thing have to be in the house, or can one carpet a shed out back, to keep it in?

Jarn profile image

Jarn 6 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Glad everyone approves. I'm still in the testing stages. None of my cats seem inclined to cooperate. Can't for the life of me figure out why.

lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 6 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Ha hahahahahahahahahahahahahah.

I told you you were a genius. I've been very sick and have been waiting for responses from various people on the manuscript. Email to follow.

neeleshkulkarni profile image

neeleshkulkarni 6 years ago from new delhi

a similar experiment with female rabitts and carrots was found to light up aN ENTIRE VILLAGE in upper macedonia last year.The only problem with female rabbits was the tendency to ask for too much maternity leave.

with cats even this seems to be solved.

excellent idea.!!!!!

Jarn profile image

Jarn 6 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Hmm. I hadn't considered female rabbits and carrots. Must be a friction-based generator.

Lisa, thanks for letting me know what is going on with you. So sorry to hear you're ill. Get well soon.

Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

There´s a fine line between genius and insanity....keep to the genius side, please.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

I think this should go straight to the top government officials....but we shall have to change the names of all those cats to something other than Bob.

Great idea, Jarn and I'm with BJ - it makes sense to me!

Jarn profile image

Jarn 6 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Dim, it's not that I can't stick to the genius side, it's just that I can never tell one from the other.

debbiesdailyviews profile image

debbiesdailyviews 6 years ago

Puurrrrfect sence. Thank you for answering my question , and I've always thought some people drink far to much water too.

Now back to you.

I can almost hear the spit, and bang, pop, and blow from the kitty powered generator.

Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States


So when can I order mine? I have a well suited specimen on hand - a long-haired critter who, having been handled by small children and a persistent German Shepherd dog, is used to gyrations at assorted angles. However, she is sterile, so will be no help whatever in creating a line of kittens which could be trained up from kittenhood to fulfill their destinies.

One of my cousin's favorite books as a toddler was, "101 Uses for a Dead Cat". I'll bet you could outdo this work with your variations using live cats.

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

I passed this article on to my husband, who is an electrician. He liked it so much he sent it on to his boss, who also thought it was great! (They are big on alternative energy):)

Jarn profile image

Jarn 6 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Joy, I hadn't considered the possibility of using a dead cat. I've only got live cats around the house, and simply haven't the heart to take matters into my own hands, but if this phenomenon works for dead cats too it would save us the cost of feeding. Formaldehyde might be an issue though.

Ivorwen, glad to hear more serious heads and able hands than I are getting in on it. That way I don't even have to worry about putting together a prototype. They can have the patent as long as I get a percentage. :)

CaitlinRose17 profile image

CaitlinRose17 5 years ago from Mississippi

thanks for the laugh!!!

Jarn profile image

Jarn 5 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Thanks for reading!

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