My cat loves a good book. And it’s little difference to him whether it’s a gripping biography or an entertaining novel. He’s an intellectual, and the act of reading is what matters to Walter. Well, honestly, I am immediately compelled to amend that last statement. The act of reading, for Walter, plays a close second fiddle to the requirement that I be in a supine position as the reading unfolds.
He watches patiently from his haunches on the floor below, golden eyes blinking methodically as I extend my legs the length of the couch, pull the afghan into place to fend off the night chill, and reach back to fluff the pillows that will cradle my head. As I settle into the first paragraph of this evening’s imaginary journey of light, he springs onto my tummy, pokes his head under the book held in place by my flexed arms to gain entrance to the reading chamber, and at once begins to knead with his front paws just below my solar plexus, his eyelids dropping to half-mast as though he’s falling into some magical ecstasy with his internal dynamo revving up to full purr. This book is going to be great!
With one hand, and really focused on the book, I deftly push him toward my legs. They are crossed at the ankles and he seems to love that reclining spot that allows him to fully extend his long, lean body and rest his chin on folded forelegs just behind the hill of my knees. But tonight, his love of the book is unrequited by such offerings, and he’s at once back up between me and the book, now lying down on his side, staring intently into my eyes with his, then rolling over on my chest and extending his forepaws to touch my neck, my chin, my cheeks to insist that I devote full attention to his loving need. His purr motor continues to rev and recede rhythmically, like the incoming and outflowing tide, only much quicker. As his forepaws reach to touch, he spreads the five digits of his toes and dew-claws in succession, first one, then the other, rolling the toes under in the same synchrony.
Incrementally, I’m forced to relinquish my reading efforts and pay total attention to Walter as he looks deep into my soul with those penetrating, golden cat eyes that hint of chartreuse and look at once fierce and soft. It’s clear to me that this relationship is not really about the book – the one that I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to continue, the compelling autobiography. This relationship is about … this relationship. Walter-cat loves me and wants to be with me. Who said cats are narcissists?!
Carpe diem. Vita brevis!
© August, 2010, by Michael Stubblefield. All rights reserved.