The great battle for territory
Sept. 5, 2016
by Ivan Raconteur

My house became disproportionately smaller when I brought home two roommates from the animal shelter the beginning of July.

Allie Cat, 3, is the larger of the two. She is very regal, and her name means “descended from nobility,” which is appropriate, because she thinks she is the Queen of Sheba.

Rylee, 2, is a compact bundle of energy. Her name comes from an old Gaelic word meaning “courageous.”

She is utterly fearless, and has an unlimited capacity for mischief.

When I say my house got smaller, what I really mean is that the amount of space available for my use was reduced.

This occurred to me Sunday when I settled in for a nap.

The master bedroom at the bachelor estate is equipped with a queen size bed that measures 60 by 80 inches, giving it a surface area of 4,800 square inches.

Why then, I wondered to myself, am I stuck defending this narrow strip of mattress on the eastern edge of the bed?

Cats can be great company for many things, not the least of which is napping.

Cats are the grand masters of napping, and are willing to drop what they are doing any time of the night or day to join a person in a nap.

Most of the time I enjoy this company. A warm, purring cat can help whisk one away to dreamland in no time.

If there is one small criticism I would make, it is that cats tend to monopolize the space.

Allie, for example, weighs 11 pounds, and although she is on the fluffy side, she takes up far more of that 4,800 square inches than one might think possible.

Wherever I move, there she is.

I have to work hard to defend my strip of turf at the edge of the mattress.

Even though I have explained to Allie on countless occasions that I don’t want her cluttering up my exit route should I need to get out of bed, she insists on trying to squeeze between me and the edge if I am facing that way.

I know why she does it. Allie is an opportunist, and she always wants to put herself in the prime position in case I should decide to pet her.

One of her favorite spots to sit is on my chest where she can stare into my eyes and try to hypnotize me into filling her food dish.

She actually prefers to wrap herself around my neck if she can, but I strongly discourage this on the grounds that having someone – even an 11-pound cat – stand on my carotid artery is both unsafe and uncomfortable.

We compromised on an arrangement under which she settles under my left arm with her head and front paws resting on my chest.

Rylee doesn’t spend a lot of time on the bed. Partly because Allie is a bit of a bully, and partly because Rylee is too busy cooking up mischief at night.

For the first few weeks after moving to the bachelor estate, Rylee, in the rare moments when she was sitting still, usually parked herself in the middle of the sofa.

Lately, however, she has decided to take over my chair in the living room.

Every time I want to sit down, I have to scoop a 6-pound cat out of my way, and every time, she complains indignantly and clings to the chair like a limpet.

I tried explaining to her that when she starts paying rent, she may get to have a say in who sits where, but she pays me about as much attention as a speed limit.

The kitchen at the bachelor estate is rather long and narrow.

Since bringing the girls home, I have had to re-learn the art of working in a confined space with at least one curious creature parked in the middle of the road, or coiling around my ankles like a persistent python.

Cooking at my house resembles some sort of modified buck-and-wing dance, as I try to get things done without treading on a cat.

I have explained to them on more than one occasion that I am a fat man, and therefore have an abundance of blind spots.

I use those illustrations on the back of semis as an example – the ones that state “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.”

I tell the cats, “If you can’t see my eyes, I can’t see you. If you want to lurk in the shadow of my ample belly, you do so at your own peril.”

As usual, they pay no attention.

I expected there would be some adjustments when I welcomed the girls into my home. I just didn’t realize I would be the one doing all the adjusting.

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