Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A feline lapse of judgment

Cats are perverse. Anyone who has every been owned by a cat knows this. You think you find a food they like, and two weeks later they turn their noses up at it. You try to read the paper and they come and sit down on it. You try to use the computer and they walk in front of the screen or nudge your mouse. You scoop their litter box and they immediately have to use it. You try to sleep and they decide it's time to play. It's like they're continually requiring you to prove your devotion.

In the case of my masters cats, the perversity is particularly obvious in their choice of lap time. My cats are not overly affectionate beasts. They have some dignity; they're not likely to grovel on the floor and beg you to pet them, and they're not continually following me around, seeking attention. If I'm convenient and they're in the mood, then maybe they'll pay me a visit. Gigi, the former feral, is the least likely to seek attention, and also the most predictable. If I'm sitting at my sewing machine in her upstairs safe room, she will jump on the back of my chair and purr while I scritch her ears. If it's cold out and I'm safely lying in bed, she'll join me for a cuddle—but that's it. For a crazy skittish animal, at least she's predictable.

The other two, however, are crazily perverse when it comes to lap time. Clio, the fat orange one, usually likes one session a day, while I'm sitting in a recliner watching TV or reading the paper. But sometimes she insists on lap time when I'm at the computer, ensuring that I can't type because she blocks access to the keyboard. This never happens in the morning, when I'm farting around, but always in the afternoon, which for some reason is prime brain time for me. Small brown Callie, on the other hand, usually only seeks lap time late at night—and I shouldn't even call it lap time, for she prefers to roost on my shins or ankles, whichever might be most uncomfortable. She has a gift for timing: if I'm thinking about getting up, or considering maybe it's time for bed, she will unerringly sit upon me and prevent any movement.

Of course, there is one rule that precludes all others, and it has to do with what I'm wearing. If I'm wearing black or navy pants, especially slacks, then Clio will seek me out so she can shed little blonde hairs all over me. And Callie, who never wants my lap otherwise, will unerringly climb into it if I'm wearing white pants—all the better to see the numerous black hairs she's leaving behind. Look for yourself: yesterday afternoon I'm minding my own business when Callie insists on sitting on my lap. I don't even have to be petting her; I can be messing around with the camera, trying to get the timer and the angle set; and still she sits. It's like a cat magnet: White pants await, and therefore must I go, says she. Luckily I know a good trick with strapping tape, or else I'd have to wear gray all the time, and that would be boring.

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