I think my cat is cheating on me.
I should have seen it coming; he’s not the first tomcat to stray. But I somehow expected better of Melvin. From the day we brought him home from my Mother-n-law’s barn, he claimed me as his Person. He’ll let other family members pet him or feed him, but he has made it clear to all other pets in our home that my lap belongs to him and no other.
He’s a big, handsome fellow, orange with darker orange stripes and a ringed tail that ends with a white tip. His yellow eyes are always half-closed, making him look stoned. He has two different meows: one is a plaintive yowl that could frighten away our local coyotes, and the other is a raspy, rattling bleat to let us know that he wants attention but doesn’t feel like expending enough energy to actually meow.
His affection is sporadic at best. In warm weather he roams the countryside and only drops by the house once in a while, just often enough to remind us of his ownership. He’ll occasionally gift us with a dead mouse on the doorstep or let us catch a glimpse of him sunning himself on the picnic table, but summer turns him into Kipling’s Cat Who Walks By Himself.
At the first hint of cool weather, however, his independence evaporates. The instant I sit down in my chair with my morning cup of coffee, Melvin strolls nonchalantly across the room and looks at everything but me. He sidles up to my leg, prrts a few times before jumping into my lap and then gives me a look of astonishment as if to say, “How did I end up here?” He then tries to knead my body in various places until I turn him around and force him to sit down, at which point he settles in for some determined purring and sleeping with his mouth hanging wide open.
Lately, he’s been staying out all night despite the cold weather. He doesn’t come in until I’ve poured my second cup of coffee, and when he jumps into my lap his fur is warm and smells of wood smoke.
So I have deduced that he is cheating with a nearby family that has a woodstove or fireplace. I wonder what they can offer him that I can’t. Have they lured him with expensive canned food? Does someone there have a more comfortable lap? Maybe they scratch him behind the ears better than I do, or they might be more permissive than I am about the whole kneading thing.
I tried to get even with him. I started holding our younger, prettier cat on my lap to make him jealous. Alas, Fiesta is bit of an attention whore, and I feel cheapened by the purrs and cuddles that she shares so easily with anyone who pets her. She is wiry and playful and utterly adorable, but I get no comfort or warmth from having her on my lap.
No, I am a one-cat woman. Melvin is the only one for me. I shall remain faithful to him despite his philandering ways; I’ll accept his affection when it is offered and pine for him when he shares it with another. Such is the life of a cat owner.