At last, it seemed that my ordeal with my spay surgery and the Cone of Shame was over. The fur on my tummy started to grow back, and as a result, those arctic winter drafts weren’t nearly as awful as they had been while I was naked. It was still pretty darn cold in our little house, though. There were plenty of mornings when there was ice at the edges of our water dish, even when Mama had left the portable fire going all night.
So, with that chill in the air, I began to think I should get more exercise — you know, to stay warm and stuff. And even cats can only sleep so many hours in a day.
I was at a loss about what to do, though. Our apartment was pretty small, so running giant laps was out. Thomas said he just wanted to snuggle in the purple fleece, and Siouxsie was even more boring; she just told me to shut up every time I asked her to play with me.
“You’re mean!” I told her when she shut me off yet another time. I lay down on my purple fleece blanket with a huge, long-suffering sigh and wondered what I was going to do with myself.
Of course, being a cat, the logical answer was “sleep.” And so I did. That is, until the sound of tools and an entirely too loud conversation between Barking and one of his friends woke me up again. I rolled over, buried my nose between my paws, and wished Mama would come home.
When next I woke up, my tail and backside felt especially warm. I lifted my head and saw Siouxsie sleeping right next to me! Color me shocked! I thought she hated me!
I started to stretch out a little bit and Siouxsie snapped to attention! “Cut it out, you nasty, poop-smelling little kitten!” she hissed.
“Well, if I smell so much like poo, why are you curled up next to me?” I asked.
“Shut up!” she growled, and gave me a half-hearted swat.
Then Thomas poked his head out from the warm little nest he’d created. “Siouxsie, be nice!” he said. “You too, Dahlia.”
“Fine,” I sighed.
“Whatever,” Siouxsie grumbled.
With a big “harrumph,” the two of us poked and prodded at each other as we pretended we were trying to get comfortable.
Then that great big old meanie of a cat managed to shove me out of the fleece nest and right off the couch! And when I hit the floor, my tail was right under me!
“Ouch!” I screamed. I jumped back up and gave Siouxsie a great big THWACK! The hollow sound of my paw smashing against her rib cage was so satisfying.
“Oh yeah? You think you can do me like that? Let’s take this to the floor,” she growled.
“Ladies, please,” Thomas said.
“Shut up!” Siouxsie told him as we both stood up on our rear legs, our tails thrashing. She leaped toward me and grappled me with her front paws, knocking me over on my side as she tried to get her teeth into my skin.
I raked her tummy with my back claws and she loosened her grip. We each ran for opposite ends of the apartment, leaving clumps of loose fur dancing in the drafts.
“You’re a horrible, horrible kitty!” I screamed, standing side-to, my ears flattened against my head and every single fur on my back and tail standing straight up. “You hurt me!”
“You hurt me, too!” she yelled back, adding a curse or two for good measure. “And how dare you have the gall to challenge me? I am the Top Cat here, and I will always be Top Cat!” Her tail twitched with barely controlled rage as she glared at me.
“I barely touched you!” I cried. “I didn’t even have my claws out!”
“It’s not an issue of claws or no-claws, young lady! It’s an issue of knowing your place. Just because you and Thomas get all snuggly and cuddly and gooshy,” she sneered, “doesn’t mean you’re any better than a stinky, puerile kitten.”
“What makes you think I want to take your place, anyway?” I sniffed.
“You always make the first grab for Mama’s lap. You always try to eat my food. You always take the most comfortable napping spots. Those are privileges that don’t! Belong! TO YOU!” Her tail rhythmically whacked against the bed leg as if to emphasize her points.
Thomas peeked out from his nest again, his eyes narrowed with alarm.
I couldn’t help it: my eyes started to leak and my tail tucked itself under my bottom. “I’m sorry, Siouxsie!” I cried. “I just didn’t know.”
Siouxsie’s back legs relaxed, her ears rotated back to their forward position, and she resumed a more normal stance. “Well, all right, then,” she said. “I suppose I couldn’t have expected you to know cat manners when you were raised by dogs.”
Well, now I was just scared. I didn’t want to get kicked out! I gave an involuntary sniffle and licked my lips to calm my anxiety.
Thomas jumped down and sat next to me. “It’s all right, Dahlia. This is just what cats do when it’s time to establish whose territory is whose.”
I didn’t dare to lick him back — not without Siouxsie’s blessing. “Is it OK if I cuddle with Thomas?” I asked.
“As long as I’m not there already.”
“Is it OK if I ask Mama to pet me?”
“Yes, but I get the first petties.”
“Is it OK if I sleep on the bed?”
“Of course! I don’t want you to freeze to death! But I curl up under the blankets next to Mama first — and then you and Thomas take your positions. And you’d better not walk on me while getting to your sleeping spot.”
“What about sun puddles?”
“You’re welcome to any sun puddle you see, as long as I’m not currently enjoying it.”
“So basically, it’s pretty much OK as long as you’re not there first, right?”
“Most of the time,” Siouxsie said. “But if you have even the slightest bit of doubt, you’d better ask first.”
“OK, I’ll do that. Can I ask you one tiny little favor –- er, I mean, a tiny little indulgence?”
“You may ask, but I may choose not to indulge you.”
“Would you please stop calling me a nasty, poop-smelling kitten? It makes me sad.”
“I’ll try,” she said. “Now, let’s all three of us snuggle up for a nap. It’s getting dark and very, very cold, and my hips are starting to ache.”