We didn’t seek a cat.
For the last five years, our only pets have been a pair of aquatic turtles, and except for sharing our home with a pair of turtles, I’ve been fine with that.
I didn’t need a new pet.
The universe thought differently.
The cat belonged to the neighbors. When they couldn’t keep him, the universe, with a little coaxing from our children, sent him across the street to us.
At first, it was easy to accept the will of the universe. The cat preferred to be outdoors. He slept, ate, and conducted all his other animal business outside. This was his main selling point. Imagine having a pet—a mammalian pet at that—without the sheen of hair on the furniture, without the odors, without the mess! My wife imagined it with gusto, and the picture her mind painted was a heavenly masterpiece of hygienic pet ownership.
With all the angels singing above our heads, how could I object?
Alexa, the electronic matron who watches our every move and tells us what to do and which products we should order right now from Amazon.com, told us to name him Smokey. We obediently named him that, because we didn’t want the CIA, or the even more powerful Amazon.com, to put us on the naughty list.
I don’t know for sure if it were Smokey or the universe that pulled the old bait and switch. Possibly, it was my wife.
It must have been the universe that sent the Yellow Jacket to investigate Smokey’s outdoor food bowl. It was definitely my wife who immediately insisted that Smokey’s food bowl be moved inside the house, where nasty insects couldn’t tamper with his kibble.
And then Smokey came regularly inside the house. The next time I saw him, he was resting on a chair in the back room.
The dominoes had begun to fall. With Taliban-like speed, he conquered the rest of the house. The master bedroom fell to him within days. I found him curled up beside my wife one night. I gently explained to him that it was only a two-person bed. He gave me that indifferent cat blink that says things like: “Yes. And there are already two people in it.”
The goalposts have been moved on me. The enticements about having an outdoor cat are long gone. My wife no longer goes to bed without calling Smokey inside. He has made a habit of sleeping with us, despite the balmy outdoor nights he once claimed to adore.
My wife now puts a cat sheet over the comforter. Smokey begins his naps on this, but in the midst of his air-conditioned sleepy raptures, he often stretches himself onto the bare comforter. You can tell by the sheen of cat hair.
He’s a nice cat though, and he still does his dirty work outside. Everyone’s happy about that, except Alexa, who’s burning up with the knowledge of where we can scoop up great deals on litter accessories.