“Meow.” What are you up to?
“I’m trying to write this week’s article, and procrastinating by researching Germany’s tactics during WWII for my next novel. Have been all afternoon, actually.”
He cocks his head to one side and meows again. You have better things to do than that. Time spent with me is a much better form of procrastination.
“Why can’t I do both? You can sit on my lap while I work.” I reach down to pick him up, but he’s already slipped away from my hands.
No. It’s uncomfortable when you’re in that chair. And your arms are always moving.
“Fine.” I sigh, push my chair back, and stand up. He moves toward the scratching post by the door, stops, and looks over his shoulder as I sprawl myself on the carpet within arm’s reach. “Happy now?”
He lies down and stretches, claws finding a grip in my carpet, body arching away from me, as he yawns widely. It’ll do, I suppose.
I start rubbing his exposed belly, and he turns onto his back. That’s it, that’s the spot.
“Your fur’s really soft here.” I move my hand up and down, and his paws start twitching. “You should– ow! What was that for?”
His claws are extended and he grips my arm in all four paws, twisting his neck at the same time to seize my hand between his teeth. He gives me an innocent gaze, pupils dilated until they take up most of his eye. Mwwwhwhhnnngh?
“I’m not your chew toy.” I try to extricate my hand, wriggling it this way and that. “Kindly unclamp your jaw from around my hand and disengage your claws.”
He does so, but remains on his back. That was fun! Let’s play again!
“No, let’s not pl– Hey! Stop that!” Again I rescue my arm from his clutches. “You can do that if I get gloves. Thick long leather gloves like they used for hawking, once upon a time.”
He rolls onto his belly. Bleagh. That’s no fun, and it’s too tough. If you won’t play with me, at least make yourself useful.
“I don’t know why I should even listen to you, considering you just left teeth marks in my hand.”
Because that’s your job.
I knead the back of his neck, lifting the skin in a gentle pinch and slowly releasing it. Then rinse and repeat. He looks at me with contented, half-closed eyes and purrs. I couldn’t do this if we were in that chair. I mean, it doesn’t even have any arms for me to lean against.
“Well, excuse my taste in chairs. I bought it long before I adopted you, I’ll have you know.”
He rests his head on his paws, eyes now fully shut as he continues to purr. Just because you have bad taste in chairs doesn’t mean I have to indulge it. This is much nicer.
I rest my own head on my arm. “For you or for me?”
He turns to look at me and blinks slowly. Why would I care if it’s nice for you?
“Aren’t you kind?”
We stare at each other until he tires of it and turns away again, leaning against the outstretched arm that pillows my head. We stay like this a while, his purring a comfortable vibration as I continue to alternately knead and stroke him. Then without warning, he stands up and stretches.
“What is it now?”
He trots to the door. I’m hungry now. Feed me.
“I already fed you this morning.”
He slips out the door, then seats himself on the tiles outside. I don’t care. I’m hungry and I want food now. Are you coming?
He trots a few more steps down the corridor and looks back at me again. Enough with the joking around. Seriously, feed me.
I get up. That’s better. Come along now.
“You’re not getting fed, and that’s the end of that. I think you’re already in the overweight category.”
Feed me feed me feed me feed me! Feeeeeeeeeeed meeeeeeeeeeeeee…
“I’m getting back to my work. Good luck with that.”
He goes into a sulk, disappearing into the living room. I finish my article, have dinner, then settle on my beanbag with a novel. I don’t know how long has passed before he comes in again and nuzzles at my hand. I lean toward him, and he nuzzles my face as well.
That was a good nap. Are you ready to feed me now?
What does a cat have to do around here to get fed? I already showed you that affection you so desperately crave. What next, doing tricks on command?
“Actually, that’s not a bad idea.” I hold out my hand toward his chest. “Shake.”
He sniffs at the hand and gives me a disdainful look. It’s called sarcasm, learn to recognise it. I try to lift his paw, and he pulls away. I’m not shaking the hand of someone who doesn’t feed me, and doesn’t afford me the dignity I deserve.
“I knew I should have gotten a dog.”
Hah, those dirty things? He starts licking himself, something he does whenever he’s bored. I make a point to keep myself clean. You could never deal with the mess and slobber.
“Probably not,” I agree.
I go back to my reading, and when he’s finished cleaning, he curls up against my leg and dozes off. He only wakes up when I stand up and open the door. His eyes fly open and he stares at me with his amber gaze.
“Soon. Let me wash up and get ready for bed, then I’ll feed you.”
He runs down the corridor ahead of me, stopping at the laundry door as I walk past. Why not now? You’re already here, just feed me first then do all your other unimportant things.
I ignore him and go to brush my teeth. He follows, settling himself outside the door. I sit down beside him as I brush.
Is that food? It’s in your mouth, after all. He sniffs at it, and his eyes go into a squint. The smell stings. Yuck.
“How many times do I need to tell you, it’s not something you’d like.” My voice is muffled around the toothbrush.
If you just fed me more, I wouldn’t be desperate enough to sniff it.
He waits impatiently as I rinse out my mouth and dry my face on the towel, then runs back to the laundry door and meows. You promised!
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
He nuzzles my hand as I open the bag of cat foot, and twines about my arms. I draw a cup of pellets, measuring them against the line, then pour the excess back. He stands on his haunches and paws at my hand.
Don’t do that! Are you trying to starve me? What was wrong with the previous amount?
“You’ll be grateful for this when you’re old and not trundling along like a bowling ball.” He doesn’t look convinced. “Now give me a kiss before I feed you.” I lower my face, and he touches his nose to mine. Then I pour the food into his bowl, and he starts eating before I’ve even finished pouring. “Good night, baby boy.”
He doesn’t say anything, he’s too busy eating. I return to my room, lay out my futon, and get comfortable under the covers. I’m about to doze off when he walks in, satiated. He goes straight for the gap between my spread-eagled legs and curls up there.
I shift my legs so they cradle him, and he purrs.
“Good night, Duke.”
Leanne Yong is an aspiring Aussie author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.