Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dangerous love

I know our cat loves us. Or at least, I think she does.

She watches our every move. She has a sixth sense that alerts her the moment we awaken, or the instant we step foot in the kitchen.

She is there. Watching.

It's not as creepy as it sounds. Or maybe it is, who am I kidding?

It's a love, I must admit, that feels a little dangerous.

She's always one step ahead. Literally. A step slower and she'd trip me on the stairs. Every. Time.
It's like she's programmed to overlap my territory.

Instead of lazing in the sun, or curling up in a cardboard box like other cats are reported to do, our cat seems to only bask in the warmth of my immediate departure.

For instance:
Any given dinner time I'll get up from my place setting, walk into the kitchen, grab the milk from the fridge and walk back into the dining room and my chair will be filled with cat.

It takes exactly 8.50 seconds. (I know because the boy pick-pocketed my iPhone and timed me.)
But I can only guess that it takes the cat just a fraction of My-Own-Dinner-Is-Getting-Cold speed to commandeer my chair at the table.

And there she'll sit, a black shadow, low on her haunches, not disturbed in the least by my return.
Nary a sound will she make as I unknowingly move to sit down, only to ricochet back to standing with all the finesse of a bull in a china shop.

Jump in my grave, why don't you,” I holler, just as my mother would have given the circumstances. The room explodes in giggles as the show begins. Of course, the cat won't budge.

My family can barely contain their amusement as I try everything from tipping to telepathy to get the cat to vamoose and let me eat in peace. Eventually, I have no choice but to pick up her small-dog-sized frame and move her to another piece of recently vacated furniture. Maybe the dog bed is still warm. ...
I'm not complaining, really.

She's a good pet for an animal who can't be trained, won't be contained and doesn't answer to her name.

She's friendly and affectionate. Loving, even when it's probably not in her best interest. If I were her I would have sliced the resident ambushing dog to ribbons by now, but she just waits out the dopey affection and walks away with drool-covered fur. Not even a hiss.

I would have mapped out hiding spots and been in them whenever the stampeding of little feet headed my way. She doesn't even blink when the bag of doll clothes gets up-zipped. Maybe she thinks she looks pretty in a bonnet, who knows? You'd think she was declawed.

At least that's what people tell me when they visit. (They usually tell their kids: “Don't go trying this on your cat at home.”)

Of course, she's not totally an alien creature.

She'll play with string, chase her tail, and, in springtime, she'll bring us the catch of the day. Leaving some poor, hapless rodent gutted on the porch for us to find.

New theories of cat fancy tell me this garish morsel is not the thoughtful gift we accepted it to be. She is not repaying our kind offerings of Fancy Feast with a headless mole or an eviscerated snake. She is the mother huntress and we are her idiot kittens, albeit huge and relatively hairless ones. She's training us to hunt.

And that kneading business? Turns out her obsessive need to knead me in the middle of the night, circle around and sleep in the middle of my back, may have nothing to do with her vague memory of kittenhood or the pleasures of a warm mommy. She's just marking her territory with the scent glands on the bottoms of her paws.

But I can hear in the velvet flutter of her purr that I am more than just her pillow.

Try not to wake me when you lose all feeling in your lower extremities, human. Unless you are getting my breakfast. … Then do be careful on the stairs.”

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