The Cat and Night
April 4, 2009 § 2 Comments
I have a new cat. He’s a year old, sweet, curious and disoriented. I’ll will tell you his name when I decide on it. So far he’s been Stoner and Robert Moses, but although Robert is a little sticky, I’m not sure. I was thinking of something extravagant but he’s not an extravagant cat. His face isn’t beautiful, nor his bearing lordly. He’s an ordinary cat, with very pretty fur. Mind and soul unknown, but tantalizing.
My friends Maddy and Molly had to give Robert up, after 6 days, because Molly found out she was allergic. His previous owner, Julia, had hidden him in her dorm room at N.Y. U. and was caught. So now he’s here, his first night, and he doesn’t know why.
The cat I had in childhood wasn’t beautiful either, or lordly (I say now, looking at photographs; I saw things differently then). I knew how to worship him. I knew how to praise his dominion over the darkness—our house was in a suburb with big back yards, and he had a whole night world and private life, unlike Robert. And unlike me, who had to go to bed at 8 o’clock, though sometimes I snuck out very late and called him, called and called until he dragged himself unwillingly from his amours, showed his imperial self, bit me on the leg, and departed.
That was Ricky; this is Robert, or maybe Marcel. No, not Marcel. I do think he would like Proust though, Volume 1, if I could get him to listen. But all those descriptions of the two walks—Swann’s Way, the Guermantes Way, the hawthorn blossoms—might get to him, confined as he is. I’m thinking of the middle-aged Marcel who never left his apartment, hardly ever left his bed. I’m thinking of myself, if I happened to be a brilliant wealthy male homosexual French writer dead nearly 100 years.
After Maddy and Molly left, R investigated every corner of the apartment (a long time in the bathroom, less in the closet), squirmed his skinny body up under the 8-inch-open window sash, face pressed to the screen like a convict getting his first breath of fresh air in years, investigated some more, calmly walking over picture frames, smooth stones and bowls of loose change, touching noses with a stuffed kitten, chewing on a book, smelling the apples and the honey, then stood on the floor meowing plaintively for awhile before settling down on the little rug by the front door. He looked kind of like a collie lying there. Lad, a Dog, cherished book of my childhood. Probably before your time.
When I got up in my insomniac, oh fuck it’s nearly 2 a.m. mood, after lying awake worrying about…everything…not even worrying, fretting…and rummaged among the top drawer for pills, he came in for a visit. “It’s lonely, isn’t it, kitty? Come up here with me.” He allowed himself to be lifted to the bed, purred and knocked his face against mine, displaying the habits of the deeply affectionate, then was off again to his solitude, leaving a whiff of kitty litter behind him.
I’ve only ever had kittens. I’m not used to a cat in mourning for other women. I’m way too used to that with humans…but this cat is sad, and that makes me sad. He’ll get over it, I say to myself. I wonder. This is his 4th or 5th domicile in a short life (Julia got him from a shelter) and though his friendliness suggests kind treatment, I can’t help thinking he deserves better.
I want to get him a female kitty for company, a sleek silver tabby or Russian Blue to complement his coloring. They could chase each other around my apartment and break everything. It’s good I can’t download a kitten from the Internet or I just might. My new Leopard operating system hasn’t offered any other benefits I’ve noticed.
He likes me well enough. He just misses the others, and their real estate.