Friday, October 12, 2012


Unlike old dogs, old cats can learn new tricks.

Guinness is about 11 years old, the equivalent (according to the Internet) of 61 human years; Herbie is about 12, the equivalent of 65 human years.

They are almost as old as I am.

From the day I brought him home from our local Humane Society, Guinness has loved playing on my bed. At first, he attacked my toes. But claws are claws and I decided it would be safer if I substituted a cat toy. So he attacks the toy – scrunching down, attentive, then leaping on the plastic or feathered prey. Making the bed creates momentary mountains and valleys that add enticing mystery so that a successful pounce becomes more triumphant.  Making the bed under these circumstances can take twenty minutes, but who’s counting?

I brought Herbie home from the Humane Society a few days after Guinness. He had to undergo required surgery before being released. Because he’d picked up a slight infection, he had to be isolated for two days. At 4 p.m. on the third day, I opened the door to the bathroom in which he had been confined.

They met.

Eventually, they bonded.

It is hard to tell which is the alpha cat. Sometimes I think it is Herbie because he is older and more dignified. Sometimes I think it is Guinness because he tends to eat both his own and Herbie’s food. Each of them has been known to attack the other, lurking then jumping before they tussle.

But the bed games have always been Guinness’s territory. Often Herbie watched, standing out in the hall, sometimes half hidden around a corner. Occasionally, he would come closer, standing solemn at the bedroom door.

Once in a great while, he would venture onto the bed, bat the toy then leave.

Now, after ten years of cohabitation, the games have changed. Now they both help me make the bed – taking turns playing mighty hunter.

And Herbie, old cat, has equal time.

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