Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many different ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.
-Joseph Wood Krutch
The feline who allows us to live in the house with her, one Emmy the Kat, isn't really good at anything. She's a little slow. We've even seen her, in the middle of a dash to the other end of the house, run into furniture and then walk away with an "I meant to do that" attitude. Sometimes she falls off things.
She's not the brightest or most agile cat on the block.
She doesn't have any especially endearing tricks, either. Although I've tried numerous times to teach her, she won't sit, lie down or even hold up a paw to shake hands.
She's not even close to being a purebred. To begin with, you'd have to narrow her breed down to something other than just simple domestic shorthair. And Emmy doesn't begin to approach that degree of exclusivity.
If this cat is really good at anything, and I don't think that this is a championship competition category, it's sleeping. As the sun makes its arc across the sky, Emmy moves from comfortable sleeping spot to comfortable sleeping spot around the house. If the sun happens to be shining through a window and onto a pillow her mistress has dutifully placed there, so much the better.
Don't tell me she needs her sleep during the day because cats are nocturnal and she's up all night. I get up in the middle of the night more frequently than that cat does.
This cat sleeps on the bed with us all night. I know where the cat is at night because when she's sleeping on my side, she's hogging the covers where I want to put my legs.
Usually, when you think of catnaps, it's a quick 5 minutes of shut-eye you grab before doing something else. Something important. With Emmy, a catnap can last hours, and then she'll get up, go out to the kitchen and check her bowl, and walk back to the same square of blanket she just put in three hours on and curl up for another snooze.
Once, in our living room, a large, string-handled shopping bag from Pier 1 had been left on the couch sometime around Christmas. It had a few sheets of tissue paper left in it after the purchase was removed.
Shortly after the bag was dropped there, Emmy crawled into it on one of her scheduled patrols through the house to see if her humans have moved anything. She lay down on the tissue and decided it was pretty comfortable there inside the paper cave and she might stay for a nap.
Now we have this bag that the cat sometimes sleeps in, still lying on the couch. Because she might want to sleep there... instead of her pillow next to the furnace register... or on the blanket on the back of the couch... or maybe the pillow in the closet... or who knows where down in the basement.
If you pick up the bag by the handles when Emmy's in it, you've got one bag full of angry cat that's coming out right NOW!
"Hey, fella," the cat screams, "just put the bag down and do something useful-like check my food dish, it's getting kinda low."
I grew up in a house with a cat. My mother eventually had two cats-one at a time, thanks very much-during the time I spent living at home. My mother's cat wasn't allowed to get up on the furniture, absolutely never on the dining room table or a kitchen counter; and she could sleep in only one place. That was on a towel that had been placed there especially for it to sleep on.
If the towel wasn't there, the cat would know that someone would soon be after it to move-and sometimes with a rolled-up newspaper. My mother's cats minded.
But then there's Emmy. She realizes she's the queen of the house, and that she can get away with anything she takes a fancy to. My partner, the cat's mistress, won't do anything but lightly scold her. "Push this glass vase off the counter? Sure, just watch me. It's you humans who are at fault to begin with-that's what you get for leaving it that close to the edge."
Have you ever been woken up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by the sound of glass hitting the floor after being dropped a distance? It's an experience that will have your eyes wide open in milliseconds.
I can virtually guarantee you that before all the pieces of glass were swept up in the kitchen and then the floor vacuumed, Emmy was back in the living room, fast asleep on her pillow.
ONE MORE THING: A group of my fellow Magnolia writers and me are now hard at work on Volume II of the Magnolia Historical Essay Project. Here's hoping all of you have already seen and own Volume I of this beautiful Magnolia book.
We are looking for old photo collections of Magnolia, and I especially am looking for anyone-owners, mechanics, pump jockeys, etc.-who had any experience with the gasoline service stations that were on Magnolia during the 1920s to 1940s. Would you please get in touch with me at 283-9059? Thanks.