Our cat is old enough to drink. Shadow turned 21 this year. For 21 years she has shared our king size bed. Not that we required a king size bed to keep her. Like most tortoiseshell cats she is on the small side. The mutation also means most torties are female. I just think they look cool. In my lifetime I’ve had three. Shadow came to us with a litter of feral kittens born in a pile of brush outside our shed. We watched them from our kitchen window after they were born. I called Shadow Stripe for a while, after the nasty little Gremlin from the movie, Gremlins. She has a prominent orange stripe in between her eyes. We started feeding the feral family, and when the kittens were old enough, we put out a live animal trap. We caught the kittens, one at a time, and then caught the momma and took her to the vet to have here fixed. We split the cost with our neighbors, who already had a cat from one of her previous litters. Shadow got her name because for some time after we brought her inside, we didn’t actually see her. She would eat and drink and use the litter box, but always hide afterward. Then, one day I went into her room and heard her meowing. She had managed to get stuck inside a dresser drawer. Shadow has always had a delicate stomach, but when she started losing weight in her later years, we came up with the idea of grinding fine her dry cat food in a coffee grinder. Good thing I don’t buy coffee beans.
Down, off the couch and pad through the house.
Sniff the carpet.
The cat was here,
and here, here, here.
Sit. My collar goes back on, as if there were anyone in my world who didn’t know me. Funny thought, that.
Give the door a little nose bump, in case he doesn’t know it’s time for me to go out. Just in case.
Freedom! Whoops, turn around. Gotta eat. Get to eat. EAT!
Hey! Someone is walking by. Bark bark bark bark bark bark bark! My yard my yard my yard my yard.
Okayyyyy maintenance. Do my rounds. Gotta pee on that bush that tree that fence that fence that bush that tree that shoe… whoops! Sorry dude, my bad.
My TOY! Oh blessed God of play, my toy. My most favorite inanimate object in absolutely all the world.
It looks like a big rubbery jack and I am either dropping it and chasing it myself or he throws it for me.
Oh, I would do that for hours if he would let me! Much of the time it just sticks out of the corner of my mouth like the prototype drill sergeant with his cigar. You have to be ready.
Bark bark bark! My yard my yard my yard!
Pee more, drink more, pee more, drink more. It’s good for you, you know.
Wow… time for a break. The sun isn’t out yet, so I’ll go get in my doggy bed under the carport for a while.
Annnd, I’m up! My yard my yard my yard. He says it’s just an airplane, but what do I know? As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a big noisy bird that needs to know it’s… my yard my yard my yard.
A bee! Clop! My massive jaws miss again. Once, I actually caught one and it bit me! I still go after ’em though. Everything has to know this is my yard. It’s my job and I take it seriously. I’m important.
Run run run run run. I love to do that. I’m a gymnast too! Sometimes, when he throws my toy, I jump high in the air, and I could almost do a whole flip. It was easier when I was younger. A bird in the crab apple tree! My tree my tree my tree! They’ll never learn.
Work play eat sleep. Work play eat sleep. Am I getting the order right? It doesn’t matter. I’m a dog and I just do… What was it he called it? Oh yeah, what’s “instinctual.” Where do they come up with these funny words? The sun is out! Oh yeah. Time for a nap. Another stretch, and I’m down.
After a while it’s time to go inside for the night. I go sit with them for the evening. Sometimes I get to share popcorn. She throws it for me and I pretend it’s a bee. Clop! That’ll teach you, popcorn!
Back to the couch, to dream.
My house! But I say it quietly.