The Cat

The cat woke from its nap and looked around. Hoping for stroking, it looked at the spot where the female usually sat and found it vacant. The cat yawned, stretched, and wandered to the food bowl. It took a sniff and decided it wasn’t hungry enough to eat more of the same.

The cat really wanted some scritches. The spot on the back of its head, that only female seemed to know about, was bothersome. The cat wanted it dealt with. The female was not in the kitchen either. The cat skulked around the main floor of the house. Walking through the living room, it encountered noisy boy and cut a wide berth. The cat smelled the aging scent of the big male but did not see him.

The cat knew that if it wanted stroking, it would have to climb the stairs. It sat at the base of the staircase weighing the effort and the reward. The cat knew if the female was in the big sleeping place there was a good chance for cuddles, too. It decided if the female couldn’t be found, the prospect of laying in the big water bowl would be worth the effort.

The cat climbed the stairs and stood for a moment in the hallway, listening. There were noises coming from the sleeping place, female sounds. The cat knew these sounds. The cat knew these were not good sounds. These were unpredictable sounds. If the cat ventured up onto the sleeping place it could not know in advance what would happen.

Sometimes, these sounds meant the cat could talk to the female. The female would sniff a bit, wipe water from her face, and give the cat cuddles. The cat knew that in this case the female might forget the cat needed to breathe. The cat might get over-squeezed and have to flee to safety. Sometimes, the female might make loud noises at the cat. She might be rough, pick the cat up, and toss it in the hall. The cat knew it had to be very careful.

The cat nudged the door open enough to squeeze in. It padded quietly to the edge of the sleeping place and sniffed around. The cat knew these smells. The cat smelled the female’s face water, both aging and fresh. Jumping up onto the far corner of the sleeping place, the cat offered a plaintive mew, working to assess the female’s reaction.

The female did not seem to hear. The cat crept closer and meowed with a bit more volume. Still nothing. The female did not turn her face to the cat. The female did not make communication noises, soft or loud. This was new. Emboldened by curiosity, the cat closed the distance to the female and headbutted the female’s shoulder. Nothing.

The cat sighed heavily. It had come all this way, gone to all this trouble, and it seemed neither scritches nor cuddles were in the offing. The cat sat for a moment, considering the big water bowl, wondering if it would be wet or dry. Deciding the bowl, regardless of condition, was too far away to bother, it curled up – well outside of the restless zone –  and drifted off to sleep, content to have avoided the hallway toss.

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