Every morning after I wake up, the third thing I do is pull the covers up on my bed. By this time, one or more of the cats who reside in my house is sitting at the foot of the bed, staring at me, waiting. As soon as the comforter is on and straightened out and the bed is all made, the cats jump up on it and fall asleep. Well, sometimes they lick themselves for a while, but eventually they all take a nap. It’s like they’re waiting for me to prepare the bed for their use.
This wouldn’t be so bad except for a) they shed fur all over the comforter, b) they poke little holes in it with their hind claws when they propel themselves off the bed to race to the window because they’ve heard some hypersonic chirp, and c) they’re cats.
So I thought how considerate it would be if, every evening before they leave my room for the night, the cats would pull the covers down in preparation for my using the bed. Wouldn’t that be a nice symbiotic relationship? Wouldn’t that be share and share alike? Wouldn’t that give the cats a purpose in life? It’s a little thing, but I think it would go a long way toward making up for all the anxiety and frustration and expense they have caused me.
I can picture them using their faces to push the covers down. They’ve all been declawed, so they would have to use their faces, or maybe their teeth (except Sylvester drools, so he has to wear one of those masks, like a dust mask or a surgical mask, while he turns down the bed).
I can no longer explain why, but ever since I was a child cats have been my favorite domesticated animal. I’ve had other favorites over the years. When I was in grade school, I also liked elephants and wished I had one, like that boy on the tv show Maya. I'm glad they’re not really domestic pets, because I can’t help thinking three elephants asleep on my bed is nothing but a recipe for disaster. I’ve also liked raccoons and otters, and currently when someone says “What’s your favorite animal?” I answer “Tiger”.
But all those are wild animals. As far as domesticated animals go, cats take the cake. Especially Sylvester. He jumps up on the counter when I'm not looking and takes whatever food happens to be there and drags it down into the garage and hides it there, where it gets stale and moldy, because he’s not really going to eat cake or pizza crusts or peanut butter sandwiches, or any of the other non-feline food items he’s made off with over the years.
Back in the olden days, I occasionally used to read cat care books and magazines. I read one article about a cat who was trained to use the toilet instead of a litter box, and even to flush afterwards. If cats can learn to do that, surely they can learn to turn down a bed. You’d think.
I also read Undercover Cat, by Gordon Gordon and Mildred Gordon (I could have written Gordon and Mildred Gordon, but I wanted to call attention to the fact that Gordon Gordon’s parents apparently named him Gordon Gordon, which I think is ridiculous). Undercover Cat was the basis for the Disney film That Darn Cat, which I had seen and which inspired me to seek out the book. Well, we all know how Disney changes things. There’s even a neologism, “disneyfy”, which means to simplify or sentimentalize something.
I haven’t read Undercover Cat for many many years, but I can recall thinking how different it was from the film, and how, oddly enough, I liked the film better, simplified though it may have been. The one specific simplification I do remember is that in the film they called the cat DC, which stood for “Darn Cat”, but in the book it stood for “Damn Cat”. At the age of 11 or 12, I was a little shocked that a book for young readers (or so I thought it was) would have swearing in it.
Undercover Cat is the only book about cats I’ve ever read that’s got “cat” in the title and is not a picture book. (I know there’s a whole series of cat mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun, like The Cat Who Wrote a Million Books or something, and it’s a very popular series, but I’ve never read a single one of them. There are several other mystery series for adults featuring cats but I’ve never read any of those, either.) To prove what I say, I’ve come up with a list of books I’ve read during my life that have “cat” in the title that aren’t picture books. I’ve already mentioned Undercover Cat. Here’s the rest of the list:
Millions of Cats – Okay, it’s a picture book, but it’s a very cool story, because what do the cats do to each other? That’s right!
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Actually a play, not a chapter book, but I read it and I’ve seen the movie. Not really about cats, so it doesn’t count.
Cat’s Cradle – No cats. Whatsoever. However, there is a lot of weirdness and it deals with the total destruction of human life, so it comes close.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – Poetry, so it doesn’t count, and it’s by T S Eliot, so it doesn’t count even more.
French for Cats – Non-fiction so it doesn’t count.
It’s Like This, Cat – I started reading this Newbery-award winning book, but it was boring so I took it back to the library before I got to chapter 3, therefore it doesn’t count.
Catwings and Catwings Return – sort of picture books, plus I was reading them to my kids, and besides cats don’t really have wings (more’s the pity), and the first one is better than the sequel, so these books don’t count.
The Cat Who Went to Heaven – also sort of a picture book, except not really, but I don’t think there are any chapters, so I'm going to say it doesn’t count.
The Lion’s Paw – a lion is part of the cat family, so I'm including it in my list of titles, and this was a full-length chapter book, a mystery (and a very good one for when you’re in junior high), only it’s not about cats or even lions because the lion’s paw is a rare seashell that these three runaway kids (two having escaped from an orphanage) want to find, and they have a sailboat (was it a catamaran?) and they sail around Florida and the Gulf of Mexico having cool adventures, only (suspense!) someone is following them, not to mention the police are looking for them, and I really wished I could’ve sailed on that boat with them – but wait! – in a way I can because I still have the book so maybe I’ll read it again one of these days, but anyway it doesn’t count.
I can’t think of any more. Besides, I just heard an unusual sound in the kitchen, and when I looked at the bed, only two cats were sleeping on it. The cat who went to heaven, my eye!