Rendered Fat Content


Inagaki Tomoo: Seated Cat (Shōwa period, 1926-1989)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of C. Adrian Rübel

" … get on with my morning. "

Max has grown into the LapCat I'd once imagined he might become. When trying out a potential new cat member of the family, I was deliberately very picky. My memories of prior cats colored my judgment, turning every candidate into an unlikely companion. Their coloring seemed wrong, or their temperament suspect. Of course, it should have been impossible to tell if a six-month-old kitten might grow into a tolerable companion, but I persisted in my gruff assessments. The Muse and the visiting Grand Otter returned from a trip to the cat shelter insisting that they'd found the replacement I had been seeking, so at their invitation, I accompanied them back to the place to test drive this latest contestant.

He was the right color and perhaps the proper temperament.
He tolerated my lap better than most. He was understandably shy and skittish and so small compared to the mature cats he would be replacing. He sported an utterly ridiculous name bestowed by the shelter people, who apparently had little to do besides make up silly cat names. They called him Sherbet, and I could feel him tense whenever they called him. The name would have to go. He came home with us. He mostly hid in the corner for the first week.

A few weeks later, we brought home his sister. She had been in sequestration, recovering from the usual feral diseases. She remained feral for most intents and purposes. It was weeks before anyone managed to lay a petting hand on her, and then, she only permitted The Otter's touch. Anyone else would get bloodied for their trouble. The brother had grown into domestication. He liked to curl up between my legs when I read on my back in bed. He'd sometimes even hop up in my lap, though he found moving around awkward up there. He was always a poor judge of surfaces.

He's not the brightest cat I've ever petted, but he might be the most complacent. When I sit in the morning, trying to figure out what I'm going to write, he, most mornings, hops up to help me contemplate. As the mornings have grown colder, he lingers longer, sometimes holding me passively hostage for an hour or more, time I treasure. He might start with his head and paws precariously hanging over the edge but slowly migrate to where his head rests on my knees. He kneads my lap before settling in as if to soften up the surface. He prickles me pleasingly, his paws massive and insistent.

I suppose he dreams as he purrs there. I suppose I dream, too, for I rarely fail to find fresh inspiration when I sit captive to that kitten's preference. I prefer submitting to his choice and sincerely miss his presence when urgent business takes him elsewhere some mornings. He usually flees outside when I get up to make coffee, returning through the window just as I finish my writing. He seems to complain when he finds me sitting at my desk, my lap inaccessible. He accepts a furtive head scratch before jumping onto my desktop and attempting to type a few words by walking across my keyboard. He might sit and look out the window or, on warmer mornings, crawl out onto the window sill until he appears to be in grave danger of falling over the edge. I coax him back inside before closing the window. I'm over-protective of my LapCat.

That familiar thump tells me he's back inside looking for breakfast. I'd best finish this story and get on with my morning.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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