His coat is the sandy brown of a lion's pelt and the sculpted profile resembles those of the cats in Ancient Egyptian paintings. He's beautiful, but of course I'm prejudiced.
He's getting old. Over the past eighteen months he's turned into a lap cat, rarely venturing outside even in good weather. He sleeps more and more, though he's perky enough when awake. The vet guesstimates he's around fourteen, but since he's a rescue cat we don't really know. Could be more, could be less, but it's clear that the days of playing the wild rover are gone for good.
I could never get him to stay on my lap when he was younger. Twenty seconds maybe if I held him down with both hands, then a struggle, a wriggle, and he was gone. If he was feeling particularly benevolent he would place himself next to me on the sofa, his flank against my thigh. Thus far but no further. I felt honoured, in the way we humans can by the occasional attention of a normally aloof cat.
Since we left London it's all changed. Whether I'm sitting on the sofa or lying in bed he jumps up. It's become difficult to read, impossible to knit - his furry bulk imposes itself between me and the object of my attention. He stakes his claim to my lap, kneads, turns round in a circle and settles. I feel the movement and warmth of his small body and the soft beating of his heart. As I scratch beneath his chin the purring redoubles. Quite quickly he falls asleep. What is seeking, I wonder. Body warmth? Comfort? Life force? Certainly his health is failing. There are chronic kidney problems and in addition he's losing weight and nobody knows why. He's also lost most of his teeth. Between the special diet and the vet's bills his care is expensive for someone on a limited budget, but I pay up more than willingly.
You see, he's a companion in the literal sense of the word. Since he arrived at my door over ten years ago I've had more meals in his company than in the presence of any one human. He's been there through the arrival and subsequent departure of two lovers, the death of both parents, through excitement, contentment, grief, anxiety, boredom. Through a mugging. Through a house move. Through the flu. He sleeps on the bed through my morning quiet time. He makes me laugh.
Ach. There'll be time enough for knitting later on, and in the meantime I go to a coffee shop or the library whenever I want to read in peace. He can have my lap, my body's warmth, whenever he needs them.