From an interview with Gene Wolfe:
A troubled man and his wife once sat at their fireside, with no other company than their big black tomcat. After an hour or more of silence, the wife asks her man what’s bothering him. The man explains that as he walked to his work that morning, the rustling of the trees seemed words. Nonsense of course. And while he was at his work, an old woman came to him, lean close, and whispered. He could not really understand what it was she said, but it seemed to him that it was the same thing — or almost the same thing — that the trees had said. And as he walked home, it seemed to him that he heard a bird speak, those same words.
“What were they?” his wife asked.
“Just foolishness,” her man answered.
“Well, tell me! I’d like to know.”
“You women want to know everything.”
“If you tell me, you’ll feel better. It will stop bothering you so. Try it and see.”
“All right. All right!” her man said. “But please don’t ask me what it means, because I don’t know. Trees, old woman, and bird all said the king of the cats is dead.”
At this, their cat rose upon his hind legs, shouted, “Then I am King of the Cats!” and vanished up the chimney.
Wikipedia provides some background.