Cat As Cat Can


Lenny Levine


Something just moved underneath me. It’s The Susan; she’s rolling over. Is she getting up? I’m instantly a-purr. Food.

I march up the blanket to her face and bump it with the top of my head, intensifying the purr. She’s making sounds now. That’s good; that’s promising.

“Oh, Fluffy, let me sleep.”

She makes these sounds. They both do, she and The Greg. I don’t know what they mean, and I don’t care. Come on, The Susan, it’s already getting light in here. The food in my dish has turned to crap by now, so let’s get it going. Bump, purr, bump, purr.

She rolls over again, turning her face away. More room than usual on the bed this morning. It’s one of the times when The Greg isn’t here.

I ponder the situation. Okay, what should it be, the old Lie Across Her Head ploy? The well-worn Claw-Knead on the Pillow? No, I think this calls for the Lick the Back of Her Neck gambit.

I set to work at it, amping up the purr to a near frenzy. Rasp, rasp. Man, do I love licking. I could do it all day, and, in fact, I do.

Yes! She moans and takes a swipe at me with her arm, but she’s actually getting off the bed. I’m right there, winding between her feet, brushing her ankles as she pads her way toward the kitchen. Don’t want her to forget where she’s going and why. These creatures are easily distracted.

She’s making more sounds.

“This was supposed to be Greg’s day to feed you. He’s gonna owe me big time.”

We’re in the kitchen now, and I’m fiercely urging her on, loudly roaring up at her as I pace back and forth.

“Quit crying, Fluffy; it’s coming, it’s coming.”

The can is out of the cupboard. I love that first moment, when the hint of an aroma wafts through the air. Tuna! I roar triumphantly.

“Okay, here you go, fella.”

The bowl is on the floor, and I dig in. Oh boy. Chomp, slurp, chomp, slurp. Sniff.

All right. That’s enough. I wasn’t hungry anyway. I sit down and concentrate on scratching my right ear.

Where did she go? No matter. The food dish is full, and it’s time for a nice, leisurely cleaning. Out of the kitchen, onto the couch.

Lick, lick. Mmmm!

Zone out.

 * * *

It’s the middle of that dream I have, where I’m in the bushes, about to leap out onto my prey. I can’t see what it is, but I know I must wait till the moment is absolutely right. I sit motionless, trying to sense the moment, but it never comes.


A low, continuous noise is coming from the bathroom, mixed in with The Susan as she makes all kinds of horrible warbling sounds. The dream has put me in a hunting mood, so I quietly slip off the couch and slink toward the action.

The door is open a tiny crack. I put my face into it and it opens wider. I notice the air is warm and moist in there. I like warm and moist.

I venture in. She’s on the other side of the room, silhouetted behind the curtain.

I recognize the situation now, and I want no part of it. Warm and moist is one thing. What’s happening behind that curtain is disgusting.

A glimmer of light above the sink catches my eye. Something’s up there on the shelf.

In one leap, I’m onto the sink, my paws against the spigots, my nose inches away from the object.

Interesting little round thing. Never seen it before. I bat at it and send it flying. It hits off the wall and lands on the floor by the doorway.

I’m right down on it. Can’t get away from me, you little bastard. I smack at it again and knock it through the opening, into the living room.

As I creep out after it, something brushes against my ear.

I whirl around.

It’s that stupid toy they’ve got hanging outside the bathroom door. I usually ignore it, but now it pisses me off. I jump up and grab it with every claw I’ve got.

I yank it downward but it won’t come. The door closes behind it and goes “click.” I fall stupidly onto the living room floor.


My unerring eye catches that shiny thing again, lying in the middle of the rug.

Slink. Slink. It doesn’t know I’m coming, does it? Look at it, just sitting there, the fool.

Pounce! Hah! In the mouth. Out of the mouth. Swat!

It bounces away again, and I’m after it. Under the coffee table and out the other side. Whap!

Across to that big, square object they sit and look at every night. Hit the little sucker again. Whoopee!

No, wait a minute.

My claws suddenly feel dull. Totally unacceptable.

I walk over to the couch and stretch my front legs up the side as far as I can.

Rip. Rip. Rip.

Isn’t that a patch of sunlight over there? Think it might be cleaning time?

I think it might.

Zone out.

 * * *

“Oh God, oh God, oh God! Where is it?”

The sounds are coming from behind the bathroom door, along with the noise of things being moved around. I’m instantly alert. There’s something about sounds behind a closed door. I get fanatically interested.

I go over and sit in front of it, roaring loudly. When that doesn’t work, I throw myself up against it.

Then I roar loudly again. Finally, the knob turns and the door opens.

Thank you.

The Susan is standing there, staring down at me. I stare back into her eyes. In moments like this it’s almost as if we can communicate, although I know that’s impossible.

“I must be losing my mind.”

She turns back into the bathroom, gets down on the floor, and starts crawling around, which I love. I curl against her side, purring away.

After a bit she stands up again. I wait to see what’s next.

“Maybe I took it off when I was doing the dishes… ”

She goes out into the living room and starts toward the kitchen. Food? I run ahead and then realize she’s still in the living room. I double back and watch her carefully.

“No… I’m sure it was…” She goes back into the bathroom.

I follow her and observe as she opens one cabinet after another. She pulls back the curtain and examines the bathtub. I hop up there and do the same. It’s still sort of wet, but there’s an intriguing odor about it that smells like flowers but not quite. I lean down and take a tentative lick. Yuck!

I jump off and shake myself violently to get rid of the sensation. She’s leaving, but I don’t follow because the litter box is beckoning.

Got to do this in just the right spot now. Ah, there it is.

Scratch. Scratch. Phew!

Bury. Bury. Bury.

One more sniff to make sure. Phew again!

Hop out and shake myself.


I stride out of the bathroom and into the living room, where she’s sitting on the couch making little sniffling noises. Nothing exciting about that.

Okay, what now? Under the bed for a while? No, I think the hall closet. Nice and dark and always good for some interesting odors.

 * * *


Even in my doze the clicking noise and the turning of the front doorknob galvanize me to action. I’m a champion when it comes to getting out of here. With a running start I can be past them before they even blink.

After that it’s the great chase, up and down the stairs. High adventure. I love it!

Across the living room in a flash. The door is opening, and here I go.

Wait, what happened?

I can’t move. Something’s pinning me down. I struggle to break free, but instead, I get swept off my feet and picked up. I’m held aloft, looking straight into the face of The Greg.

“Gotcha that time, Fluffster!”

I go limp and endure it as he carries me inside and plunks me down.


I sit on my haunches and lick myself furiously, just to show them how little I care.

They hold onto each other for a moment and make noises together. Then he picks up the suitcase he’s brought in.

At this point, I give the whole scene a wide berth. Suitcases spook the hell out of me. They remind me of The Dreaded Carrying Case of Doom. Only shrieking madness waits there.

I remove myself to the kitchen. Been away from the dish too long. Ah yes, tuna. Hmm, a little scuzzy around the edges, but it’ll do. I’ll have to get after them to change it.

Chomp, slurp. Chomp, slurp.

Okay, a little face wash, and now let’s see what’s doing. I saunter down the hall toward the bedroom and their sounds.

“I swear to you, I was taking a shower and the door was closed the whole time.”

“How do you expect me to believe that?”

I see the suitcase is on the bed, and it’s open! Open suitcases are nothing at all like The Dreaded Carrying Case of Doom. Open suitcases are a wonderland!

I spring from the floor and dive into it. Mmm, all that soft clothing. I roll around happily. Ooo, it has that nice, sweaty odor.

“Maybe you lost it because, subconsciously, you don’t think we should get married.”

“Oh, come on, Greg, please.”

I feel him lifting me out of the suitcase. He dumps me on the floor, but that’s okay. That’s part of the game.

“Maybe you left it at Richard’s apartment.”

I give him a shimmy fake and leap again, into the other end of the suitcase. Wow, woolen sweaters!

“What a horrible thing to say! How could you even think that!”

“You keep telling me you still have to work with him. Did you have a little meeting over there last night, when I couldn’t get you on the phone?”

He grabs me again, rougher this time, and one of my claws happens to catch on a sweater.

“God damn you, Fluffy!”

He pulls at my paw to untangle it. I hate it when they mess with my paws. He flings me to the floor again, hard.

Hmmf! Well, this isn’t fun anymore.

I shoot him a dirty look over my shoulder, just to give him a piece of my mind, and sashay out.

As I make my way toward the kitchen, I hear their sounds behind me getting louder and more strident. I’d better check on that food dish again. Maybe it’s been magically changed; you never know.

Nope. Same old, same old. Oh well, just have to tolerate it. Chomp, slurp, chomp slurp. Wait a minute, what’s that feeling?

Hick-a, hick-a, hick-a. Splat!

Hoo boy! Better step around that mess! Now it’s definitely cleaning time again.

Kitchen counter seems nice enough.

Leap. Stretch out. Lick, lick. Aah!

 * * *


Things feel strange, somehow. It’s dark now, but that’s not it. I’m not sure what it is, but something’s different.

Down off the counter and a quick check of the dish, stepping around the mess they still haven’t cleaned up. The food is barely acceptable, but I finish it anyway.

I walk down the hall toward the bedroom. The door is closed, which I don’t like at all.

I proceed to the living room, and there it is, the thing that’s different. The Greg is lying on the couch underneath a blanket. Never seen that before. I approach cautiously.

He’s making those sleeping sounds they both make. I quietly hop up there and put my nose to his face, which causes him to give off a kind of mumbling sound and turn over. This will not do.

I launch into the old bump and purr routine, sharpening my claws on the blanket for good measure. C’mon, pal, little matter of an empty dish out there. You were supposed to change it; let’s get moving here.

It works. He gets up so violently, it’s all I can do to keep my balance. I’m right behind him as he heads toward the kitch…no, the bathroom! That’s not right. What’s the matter with him?

He closes the door behind him, but it doesn’t make that little click. I poke up against it and move it just enough so that I can slink inside.

I see him standing by that large bowl I like to drink out of sometimes, but certainly not now. Not while that yellow stuff is pouring out of him into it.

He’s staring at me intently. Again, I get the odd sensation there’s about to be a moment of communication. But, as always, it’s just a feeling. He scratches his head, makes some muttering sounds, and reaches down, causing that loud noise of rushing water that I like.

He goes to the door and moves it back and forth, opening it and closing it. He stares at it, making more muttering sounds. Then he reaches up on the wall, and the room gets dark again. I follow him out.

Okay, next stop the kitchen, right?


He gets back on the couch and pulls up the blanket. What the hell!

This is getting annoying. And that makes me frisky.

I leap full-out at the easy chair, a magnificent jump that takes me right to the center cushion, claws extended, digging in for the final spring to the top.

I’m there!

I sharpen my claws fiercely, deciding what to do next. Down on the floor, next to the big, square object, I sense movement.

One of those scuttly, crawly bugs? Oh man, I hope so. I love going after scuttly, crawly bugs.

Instantly, I’m on the floor. There were many more of these suckers before the funny smell came. I used to put them in my mouth and drop them on The Susan and The Greg while they were sleeping, just to show them what a great hunter I am. Maybe I’ll do that now with The Greg.

Or maybe I won’t, because the bug is gone. But wait, what do I see behind the big, square object?

It’s that little round thing from before.

Well, well. Thought you got away from me, huh?

I approach carefully, sticking my paw around and snagging it with a claw tip.

A neat flip in the air, off the wall, and down on the rug. Pounce!

Into the mouth. Wait.

Here’s what I’ll do: Instead of dropping a scuttly, crawly bug on The Greg, I’ll drop this.

He and The Susan used to leap in the air in celebration of my hunting prowess whenever I’d drop a bug on them. This is just the thing to get him off that couch and into the kitchen.

I spring onto the sofa and then freeze. He’s sitting up.

I watch as he reaches behind his head, and the room gets bright. I look into his face and he looks into mine.

“Fluffy, what…?”

He makes a grab for me. I drop the thing and scoot. Now we’re cookin’. The race is on!

I’m heading for the kitchen, skidding around the corner. He’s got to be right behind me.

Wait a minute. No, he’s not.

I cautiously venture back out. He’s down the hall at the opened bedroom door, holding the thing. He’s making sounds.

She’s making sounds from the bedroom. He goes in.

Just then, I notice some dirt on my chest fur. I must have picked it up near the big, square object. I become preoccupied, licking the situation good and proper.

Now where was I? Oh yes. I take a leisurely stroll toward the bedroom.

They’re both on the bed, making sounds at each other and doing those funny movements. Whenever this happens I generally hop up to the foot of the bed and sit facing away from them. I’m not sure why I do this; maybe I’m standing guard over them.

In any case, the odors they give off are very piquant.

I like these creatures a lot. It’s nice when they stroke me. It sort of reminds me of my mama’s tongue. But I don’t let them do it too often. You have to keep boundaries.

Yeah, I’m very fond of them. Sometimes these creatures can be a little too independent, but as pets, they’re the best.



3 Responses to Cat As Cat Can

  1. Lesley Miller says:

    Very clever story Len, charming. It’s nice to have a happy ending too.
    I have a cat who behaves the same way, first one since I’m about 7 years old.
    I want to kiss and hug her all the time, and she gets sick of me, oh well.

  2. Marty Trachtenberg says:

    Good story Lenny even though I’m not fond of cats. Maybe your story will help me appreciate them more. take care.
    “The Marty”

  3. Christa Kuhlwein says:

    As a pet parent of two precious girl kitties, I found your story to be entertaining and magical and heartfelt.
    I love my girls; they have me totally wrapped around their little paws. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.

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