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
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
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
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
And Herbie, old cat, has equal time.