Monday, February 21, 2011

My thoughts to your thoughts

I roll the shimmery red ball across the floor. It is the size of a ping-pong ball and is covered in sequins. Chestnut reaches out one white paw at the end of a stripy leg and half-heartedly swats at it as it rolls by, then watches over his shoulder as it trundles to a stop about two feet away.

“Is that not fun?” I ask him. He stares at me. I roll my eyes then turn my back and return to my desk and laptop. Chestnut, suddenly animated, skips along behind me. “No,” he seems to say, “I’d rather chew on an electrical cord.”

I had unearthed the tiny red disco ball to distract him from that very thing. Not long after I initially sat down at my computer, Chestnut appeared beside my desk. When I didn’t acknowledge his presence he leapt on to the wide windowsill just to my left and sat up tall with his tail wrapped neatly around his feet. I could feel him staring at me. A sort of desperate impatience came off him in waves.

“What?” I asked, turning to look him in the eye. He stared back. We sat looking at each other for a minute in silence, Chestnut as still as a statue. I imagined he was trying to beam his thoughts into my head. “I can read yours,” he seemed to say. “What’s wrong with you?”

Finally I shook my head and returned to what I was doing. He became an unfocused beigey blob in my periphery, but I was keenly aware of his sharp, unwavering gaze. “Stop staring at me! What do you want?” I said with a hint of exasperation. Chestnut reached out a tentative paw to the edge of my desk. “I want to sit on your keyboard” was written all over his face.

“No,” I said and pushed his paw away. He reached out with his other paw. I pushed that one away too. And back and forth until he finally gave up, except he didn’t really.

Balancing on his back legs, he leaned forward over the edge of the windowsill and stretched down with his front paws to grab the cord of my laptop where it plugged into the wall directly below the window. He batted it with one paw then the other, then he pulled the cord towards his mouth, his little needle teeth already exposed and ready to clamp down on the black snake.

“Hey!” The word snapped from my mouth as I pushed Chestnut back to a sitting position. “Stop it.”

“Look, that is not a toy,” I explained. “Go find something else to play with.” He gazed at me with his amber eyes, a blank cat stare that questioned my very existence. I got up from my chair and began crawling around the floor in the living room. Chestnut thumped down from the windowsill and followed. I looked under the couch, muttering, “There’s a ball around here somewhere. I know it is because I almost vacuumed it up the other day.”

I saw a glimmer of red in the murky shadows at the back of the couch and reached under, up to my shoulder. The little ball was swirled in a nest of dog hair. “I swear I just vacuumed.”

I shook the ball at Chestnut after I swept off the hair with my hand, the plastic pea inside rattled excitedly. “Ready?” I asked then rolled the ball past him and watched his less-than-stellar attempt to play with it.

“Whatever,” I say as I sit back down at my desk. Chestnut leaps into my lap, stomping around with his pointy little feet as if he’s making wine until I grab him by the waist and hold him still. “Just sit down,” I say with a gentle push. Chestnut settles into a sit and then rests his front paws on the desk in front of him, like he’s waiting at a bar for the drink he just ordered.

I have to reach my arms around either side of him to type on my laptop; his ears frame the screen. He purrs for a while, content for now. “How difficult was that?” he seems to say with great disdain for my clumsy human communication. “I can’t believe you don’t get me.”


  1. LOL! In the cupboard next to the stove is a container of catnip with several foam balls inside for just such occasions. They can pretend to ignore the balls, and sometimes even the ring off the milk jug. But I have yet to see a cat able to ignore a ball that has spent the last several months steeping in catnip. Works every time. Although I do occasionally wonder how many people in the world keep a container of catnip and toy foam balls in their cupboard next to the snack bars and raisins...