The cats with which we share our home, our lives — and, yes, our bed — seem to have a gift for providing comfort and encouragement.
In 49 years of marriage we’ve had 20-some of these wonderful creatures. Our two daughters, between them, have had nearly that many others.
Mickey, the orange tabby — the one I regard as the brother I never had — is sociable and unfailingly good-natured.
If football or basketball happens to be playing on the television, he jumps to his place in the chair next to mine, his eyes following the quick little movements of the figures on the screen. It’s the color and the pageantry that attract him.
Among all our feline housemates there hasn’t been a single mean one. Now and then we’ve heard a noisy discussion, but never any fights.
One or two of them have tended to be a bit reclusive, preferring the basement or a dark closet.
Tommy, gotten at a pet food store adopathon, has claimed the living room couch as his resting place. But it’s Laika, rescued by our daughter from the streets of Brooklyn, and sweet, sweet Mickey, who came to us from two previous homes, that are our nighttime bedmates.
Laika prefers to rest with Katie, my wife, on her side of the queen bed. Mickey shares half of my pillow.
There’s no sense of crowding. Only of warmth and pleasant companionship.
Once in a great while we awaken in the morning to a surprise — a mouse on the bedroom carpet. And we know that Laika has been busy while the others of us slept. She’s a talented hunter and a tidy one.
The rodent hadn’t been mutilated — just had its nighttime adventuring terminated.
I mentioned at the start how, among their other virtues, cats can provide comfort and encouragement.
Sometimes at night I dream. Often it’s of a harrowing predicament in which I find myself in a strange and somehow hostile land. Other times I’m in an unfamiliar and altogether deserted building from which I can find no exit.
Last night the dream was of an altogether different kind. In it, I was overcome by the terror that, though writing is my work, there would never again be any subject about which I’d be eager to write.
I gave a little groan of despair. And, though it was only imagined, it woke me.
Mickey’s face was beside me on the pillow — eyes wide open, startled by that little sound. It was all the encouragement I needed, and I knew what I would write about today.
For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.