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That'll Teach Me

by Vicky Chapman, NSW, Australia


I should have known, really. It was obvious. I was due for another Bastard Cat trick, and it would be a darn good one, after all, the whole dog thing must be entirely my fault, and my sins cannot go unpunished. However, I was blissfully unaware as the Bastard Cat plotted and schemed against me, conceiving up the biggest and best Bastard Cat trick ever. I would have expected a Bastard Trick quite soon after Fluffy's appearance, but no, I had yet again been lulled into thinking things were Going Well and working out Just Fine. (Note to myself: A sure sign that a Bastard Cat trick is going to occur is when everything seems to be Going Well and Just Fine)

Since Fluffy happened to the household, Shmoggleberry has taken up sleeping on my bed again. I love to have my cat on my bed, and I can think of nothing more relaxing and soothing after a stressful day's work that drifting off to the sound of a contented cat's purr. I thought basically that it was Shmoggleberry's way of re-claiming "his" human after Fluffy was locked in the garage for the night, as Fluffy does take up an awful lot of my attention while she's around (apparently she will outgrow this stage. I'm waiting...impatiently...) I would love to spend more quiet time with my "first born", and I must say Shmogg is far better company, but it just won't happen. I'm sure Fluffy doesn't mean it, and has no idea bout the amount of jealousy a cat can mount in a month, but if I want a slim hope of having a normal life past Fluffy's puppy years, I've got to put in the effort now.

Shmoggleberry comes to my bed after all the lights are out, and reaches up to inspect my bed for "cat suitableness" by standing on his hind legs and peering over the top in classic meer-cat style. After I've passed muster (and have coo-ed at him a few times for encouragement) he'll jump up and do a quick once-over of the whole bed to make sure that things are still in order. I can persuade him to inspect the inside of the covers, but much to my dissapointment, he won't settle down under there. His favourite place to sleep is in the crook at the back of my knees, and my favourite cat napping position is near my tummy, as he feels closer and I can reach down and skritch him lazily. He usually times it so that he hunkers down just as I'm drifting off to sleep.

I did not think it was particularly odd that a few nights ago, he decided to curl up in the crook between stomach and hips. It was nice, actually, because not only could I hear him purring better than usual, I could also feel his rhythmic rumbles on my tummy as well. I was as happy and content as Shmogg looked, lying there with a big happy, relaxed kitty face, which was of course a complete ruse designed so I would never suspect. Nice kitty, sleepy Vicky.

I slowly entered my favourite place, between dreams and reality, dancing with the faeries. Time tip-toed past the place I had entered, all but ignored. I felt light and unburdened, fully alive, fully aware... And then my big toenail snagged on the sheet. I hate that. I tried to ignore it and go back to my soporific bliss, but the snag kept snagging and I knew that I would eventually have to get up and find a toenail clipper or a nail file or something. But my darling, sleepy, happy cat was on the bed, right next to me!

Dilemma. I had to get up, but if I got out of bed, Shmogg would get out too, thinking there may be an opportunity to score a late supper/early breakfast. He rarely gets back on the bed if he is interrupted, but he felt just so right there, I couldn't possibly... <snag> I cursed to myself about how rare it was for Shmogg to be in my favourite spot, and had a good telepathic whinge to the elements about life not being fair. Oh how I didn't want to rouse him from his sleep, he felt so good next to my tummy, and he was in such a deep sleep, his purring had stopped. How cruel to make him stir.

Instead of disturbing my beloved kitty, I slowly eased past him, very very slowly, very very gently. Besides not wanting to disturb him, I didn't want to wake myself up more than absolutely necessary. All the time, I spoke softly to him, so if he did stir, my voice would reassure him and allow him to gently reassume his slumber. "gooood kitty", "Niiiice pusssss", "Theres a gooood cat". Slowly I extracted myself from my bed, first easing my hips past, my legs still feeling the solid depression in the doona that only my beautiful Shmogg can make. "Good kitty...", I reiterated to the darkened bedroom, as I padded gently off down the hall for the elusive nail clippers.

As I came back, Joel nearly scared the beejeebers out of me by turning the hallway light on. "Who on earth were you talking to?" he inquired, sleepily. "The cat," I replied, knowing that this is a fairly normal answer in my house. Joel knows I'm mad, and so me having long and informative conversations with the cat (or dog) don't usually raise even an eyebrow any more. Joel looked at me quizzically. "But the cat's not in your room?" he questioned. Now it was my turn to look very confused (which is very easy for me to do). "Huh? The cat's been on my bed the whole night. I just got up.." "Noooooo.....He came into my bedroom about half an hour after you went to bed", he said, with the sort of voice one uses on a slighty batty, but dearly loved, relative. All I could say was "?" and quietly doubted Joel's sanity. That is, until the smuggest looking creature nonchalantly wandered out of Joels bedroom, stretched lazily, and wound his way around Joel's legs, all the time giving me The Look. I could hear his kitty thoughts: "He''s right you know. And, yes, you are going mad." I made another "?" in complete confusion and returned a little shakily to my bedroom.

What was on my bed if it wasn't the cat? A very large dust bunny? (not so unreasonable if you know what my housekeeping is like) A ghost cat? A little green alien from Mars? Panic knocked on my door and let itself in.

I switched the light on to alleviate the wave of fear gaining momentum in the pit of my stomach. On the bed, looking all perfectly innocent and reasonable, was the depression in the doona that a cat makes. Being a feather doona, it holds its shape, and Bastard Cat must have chosen the stomach region to make the depression because not only is my stomach far more sensitive and more likely to believe that the cat was still there long after he'd left, but also because it is so much more difficult to squirm around something that is on your stomach than something that is at the back of your legs.

I'd been cooing and reassuring, had been very careful not to wake up, had been all so very honoured to have... a doona depression on my tummy. That'll teach me for getting the dog.

"Bastard" cat seems no longer seems adequate. Any suggestions?.


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