I believe that my cat is smarter than me.
In early January I moved back to Lincoln, Nebraska after a three-year absence. Syd–the feline in question–was in South Dakota while I moved. He is nine years old but still as wide-eyed as a kitten; he knows me well and we’re close friends. I missed him for three months until I was ready to have him make the journey.
Two weeks ago I finally brought him down. My sister had been back visiting, and I made her take the six-hour round trip with me just so that she could keep an eye on him. Syd hates to travel and I didn’t want to cause either of us any undue agitation. He has adapted well, though, and began moving about the house only hours later. He woke us up in the middle of the night by following his curious nose into a heating vent that I didn’t know was uncovered. Since then he has been largely successful at sniffing out the house’s clues.
Except for one.
Between the main house and the garage is a breezeway that whomever owned the place before my uncle had built. It is mostly brick and wood, the exact kind of open-aired room that one wants when he has the same eager smoking habit that he did at fourteen, but now finds himself a bit concerned with the state of his home. I call it the Fortress of Solitude, because I still sort of think I’m Clark Kent. It is also where I would like to keep Syd’s food and litter box, because they stink.
The door between the kitchen and the breezeway is surprisingly thick, but I was able to get a hole hacked into it and a small cat door installed. Somewhat annoyingly, he might use it if I’m on the other side holding it open, but he can’t seem to comprehend that if he just pushes himself he can pass through, and that he doesn’t really need me for anything. Or at least that’s what he wants me to think.
It occurs to me, now, as I watch him, his tiny little white socks planted lightly on the linoleum floor, as if they are ready to move at any second, that maybe he’s just waiting for me to leave so he can jump at it. Maybe while I’m out doing whatever it is that I occasionally do, Syd wanders back and forth between the house and the Fortress all the time, but goes back to his act as soon as my car enters the driveway. The way he paces back and forth in front of the door is so intimate and filled with anticipation, as if he knows exactly what he’s going to do first as soon as I leave and he can go out there.
I always did feel that he was pondering something behind those big owl eyes of his–in fact that’s why I picked him out. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to discover that he was just working out a way to trick me, to have a little fun with the big guy who feeds him. He got me, too. He got me good. I feel ashamed that I have no equally elaborate and funny way to tell Syd that I love him, too.
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