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The Postscript: “Cat Games”

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“I don’t even know what game we’re supposed to be playing!” my husband, Peter, told me.
He and our cat, Felix, have been playing their nightly game of chase and tag. Peter always loses. This might be because Felix makes the rules—and is the referee.
“When is the game over?” I asked.
“Whenever Felix wins!”
Last night, I was already in bed while the game was wrapping up. Felix was nowhere to be seen. Peter was silently creeping around the bed and out the bedroom door. Suddenly, Felix tore out from under the chair in the bedroom, tagged Peter and zoomed on past.
“Score!” I hollered from the bed. “Felix one, Peter zero—and Felix has won the game!”
Then Felix knocked all the pillows off the sofa to celebrate and came to bed with us.
“It’s nice having a cat, isn’t it?” I said to Peter.
“Hmm,” Peter said.
“You sometimes used to win games when you played with dogs. That’s because you were sneaky, and dogs are not as sneaky.”
“Dogs are not sneaky at all!” Peter agreed. Peter used to hide from my old dog, Milo, and surprise him. He’d call him from the other room and hide on one side of the door or the other. More than half the time, Milo guessed incorrectly. Then Peter jumped out and surprised him. It was a very satisfying game for everyone.
“Cats are too sneaky,” Peter said. “I don’t stand a chance.”
Felix was a street cat in Mexico before we adopted him and brought him home with us. He does not seem to be pining for life on the street. He has no desire to go outside and is quite content to watch birds through the window. He likes his food and water in their matching little blue-and-white bowls, and he likes to have a treat at precisely 8:30 every evening. He spends much of the day luxuriating on my office chair in the sunshine, although he takes breaks to be brushed twice a day—always on the ottoman in the living room. Felix has things just the way he likes them. And every night, he plays the cat-and-mouse game with Peter—and Peter is always the mouse.
“Where is my aspirin bottle?” Peter complained last night, after the game was over.
“Where was it?”
“On top of my dresser.”
“I’m guessing Felix knocked it off.”
“From the top of the highboy?”
Peter has still not absorbed the fact that there is no surface upon which it is safe to set any small object. Like living on a boat or in a spacecraft, we must attach everything to something or put it inside something else. Yesterday, I found Felix rolling the pepper shaker across the floor.
And, of course, our life is so much better this way.
For several years, we had no pet, and we would regularly assure ourselves that life was simpler and, with our trips back and forth to Mexico, we were doing the sensible thing—for ourselves and for our imaginary pet.
But pets are not imaginary, once you have one.
While I cannot know with complete certainty what anyone (much less a cat) is thinking at any particular moment, I am sure Felix is a happy cat. He likes his new home in our condo. He likes his cat games and his many places to nap and his regular treats. I think he even likes us.
“You are a very good cat,” I tell Felix every night before I fall asleep. Felix purrs and agrees.

Till next time,

Carrie Classon

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