Wednesday, December 10, 2008


In my day, I have shared living arrangements with quite a
large assortment of cats, though usually only one or two at a
time. I appreciate their fierce drive for independence joined
with a sweet, ingeuous affection, seldom ever holding any grudge
about anything for longer than it takes to give themselves a
thorough bath.

One who will always live in my memory was Sadie, born and
raised a junkyard cat and to her last day preferred food that
she caught herself to anything I ever provided for her. But
Sadie lived the last 22 years of her life associated with me
and in her older years taught me a great many secrets about
life which I still cherish and use to this day.

The one who is keeping my feet warm on cold winter nights
now is named “Mittens”. She has most unremarkable black-and-white
markings and small stature leaning towards pudgy, but she knows
she is a princess and expects everyone to treat her that way.
She was far too good for my lap for the first couple of years that
we were getting to know each other, but every now and then lately
she begins to forget that foible, though she is still young enough
to chase straws or little pieces of stick. Already though, her
favourite thing to do is watch “television”, the glass in front
of the wood stove, and then to lie completely exposed and
unembarrassed on her back soaking up the heat.

Mittens does, however, expect attention when she expects
attention. And that means, among other things, that when I am
working away on my computer, it is her obligation and her right to
come between me and the monitor. Usually she gets a bit of what
she wants and moves on. Then one day the most remarkable thing
happened. She caught sight of the cursor. Now I can’t speak for
anyone else but I have never known a cat to be the least bit aware
of images or electronic displays. But every cat has some idiosyncracy
all her own, and soon Mittens was chasing the cursor like it was a
mouse, up and down and all over the monitor. We had as much fun as
her kitten days. I was just enthralled.

Like any game, she tired of this after awhile. But the other
night my wife put a large mirror down on the floor leaning against
the wall. And Mittens caught sight of herself, and she was at it
again. She looked, and looked, stared and stared. Then she tried
something different, moving her head very rapidly up and down to
see if she could catch the other cat that was so carefully copying
her movements. Finally, she ran around to the other side of the
mirror to see if she could catch this guy, and was visibly surprised
to find neither live cat nor image back there.

Maybe all this is no big deal to you. Maybe you’ve seen it
before, or maybe its just boring after the super-real war game
you’ve been playing. But little moments like these are the
punctuation and hot sauce of my life.

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