Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My friends with cats report rude awakenings on a daily basis. On or about 5 a.m. their cats will climb onto their beds, their chests, or their faces and make unmistakable feline remarks indicating that it is time for their breakfast.

Not so at my house. Cats are by nature nocturnal. But living with me has modified my cats’ behavior, perhaps even their DNA.

If Herbie has wandered from my bed during the evening, he will return sometime around 6 a.m. – but not to demand breakfast. I will become aware of a small wet nose gently bumping my nose. I think he uses the nose bump to gauge the most efficient way to flop. His ideal resting spot is curved into the curve of my neck and chest with his head resting on one of my hands (if they’re not under covers or pillows). So he wanders around, checking which way I lie, bumps noses for good measure then flops. He’s not always precise. Sometimes a large portion of his anatomy is pressed up against my face. Not acceptable. I move, he tries again. Once settled, he will stretch out, awaiting my sleepy caress and purring.

All of this of course brings me to some level of consciousness but it’s only a brief and usually pleasant interruption of the last half hour or so of slumber. That period of repose that some part of my brain – that portion indoctrinated with the puritan work ethic – believes is just slightly illegal, immoral or at least slothful. (And therefore pure luxury.) The rest of my brain ignores these twinges and Herbie and I sleep on.

And what is Guinness doing? He used to be more aggressive about arousing me to attend to his sustenance but he has given up.

During the night, he often sleeps at the end of the bed; I think because he doesn’t want to be left out. But sleeping mammals aren’t much fun. He usually wanders off and finds a comfortable spot next to an upstairs window where he can watch the rest of the world’s citizens – especially birds and squirrels – stir to begin their day.

When I’m ready to go downstairs to make breakfast, I’ll enter the study to let him know that, once again –when he is once again on the very verge of starvation – he will be fed. I don’t know much cat language but the meow with which he greets me could easily be interpreted to mean, “It’s about bloody time, you slothful creature.”

Our day has begun.

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