SideLines: Conversations with my cat

My cat and I have developed a nightly routine. Like most routines, this one started by accident. I was reorganizing a spare bedroom upstairs used mainly used for storage. Being naturally curious, and probably a little surprised to see me actually doing something, Smokey decided to help.

As I took little breaks to sit on the side of the bed, my cat would prance back and forth in front of me, rubbing my legs and pausing long enough for me to scratch behind her ears. She purred, soaking it up; sometimes she even rolled over, exposing her belly.

We did that almost every night. Although the organizing is now finished, Smokey doesn’t see any reason for our little routine to end.

Now, every night as I walk from the living room into the kitchen, I’ll hear a very distinct “meow” from the darkened stairway. It’s always the same type of meow. Anyone who has a cat knows what I’m talking about. Cats have different tones to their voices, indicating what they want, like they want to be fed or when they’re mad at us or they want our attention. Sometimes, they can be very demanding meows.

When she meows from the stairway, she’s usually sprawled out on the second to bottom step, like she’s all worn out from a hard day of doing whatever it is she does all day, mostly sleeping. The instant I head towards her, she bounds up the stairs. Halfway up, she turns to see if I’m following her. If not, she meows again, more pleading than demanding.

Being a little mischievous, I’ll sometimes stop at the top step and sit down behind the banister, just out of her sight, without making a sound. After a minute or so, her little head peers around the banister looking for me with a quizzical expression. When she sees me, her eyes always get big before she darts back into the room.

We usually go up at the same time, between 8 and 9 p.m. It’s like our time together. Although she wouldn’t get the connection, I think for her it’s the same as a dog owner walking his or her dog at the same time every day. It’s a bonding time that I think pets look forward to.

When I go upstairs on my own, Smokey can be sound asleep in her bed on a living room chair and, no matter how far I get, she always beats me to the top. Always.

Once we’re up there, she immediately leads me, tail straight up in the air, to that same side of the bed on the far side of the room. She rubs impatiently against the cardboard box beside the bed as she waits for me to join her. She doesn’t meow, because she knows she has me hooked.

Eventually, she jumps on the bed and, ever so cutely, leans her little face towards mine. I expect her to give me a kiss. But just like Lucy snatching the football away from Charlie Brown, she takes a nip at my nose, letting me know she’s had enough. That’s my cue it’s time to go back downstairs and resume whatever I was doing. She’s done with me.

People who say cats can’t talk obviously don’t have one. Mine can talk, she just doesn’t use words. She’s either too smart, too lazy or simply can’t be bothered; I can’t decide.

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