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A Couch for a Cat

Originally published February 2020

Today we brought home a new couch from Ikea. It’s one of those pert little foldout day bed types, ridiculously easy to set up and not too heavy for a couple of geezers to haul up the stairs.

This blog is about a slippery slope, of the kind where one action snowballs into dozens that were never foreseen. Last Thursday we brought home our two new kittens—6-month-old silbings, male and female, American short haired cats of slate gray, except Betty, the female, sports a tuxedo look. Well-cared for and deftly humanized by Cat Rescue and Adoption Network (CRAN)volunteers, neutered and shot, these two guys are adding territory to their realm daily.

On Wednesday we catified the husband’s studio, an upstairs room of appreciable size and easy to sequester, swept, cleaned, organized—we moved into this house last summer but the husband likes to unpack slowly. To him it’s Christmas every day. The longer he waits to open a box and sift through the contents, the more surprised and pleased he is. We scattered around all the old cushions and cat caves. We bought toys—our two former older resident cats who have passed on lost all of their plastic balls and feathered fliers and catnip mice over the years. We had to restock.

Bob and Betty came to us in the same carrier; Betty embarked on exploration immediately but Bob hung back, waiting to see what she might dig up. After a catnip orgy on the cat tree, they decided they liked the place. Thereafter came introduction to the second floor bedroom on day two, then on day three the kitchen and hallway and living room and other distant and thrilling realms.

In the distant realms dwelt dogs. These are two seasoned English mastiffs who have known the habits of cats all their lives. This might have taken Betty aback for a second and a half, but soon she was walking past them and behind them, always keeping up her guard. Bob was ever more skeptical about the dogs, but he stands his ground with a mild arch of the back and thickening tail.

The idea for the couch was mine. We had to drive to Portland to pick it up—that’s a near two-hour drive from Albany, but it was cheap. And pert. And on sale. The kittens assisted in the unpacking in hopes of games with strands of tape and plastic wrap. I envisioned it in a corner of the studio, near the keyboards, like those red velvet sofas Janis Joplin and Grace Slick slouched on between recordings.

Well, not as fancy as that, but a place to sit and hang with two very affectionate cats.

Wrestling it out of the car and into the house, my idea was to carry it up the upholstered staircase, rather than the wooden one leading to the studio. We have two stair cases. We live in an unusual house. We hefted it up while the cats were in the studio and the dogs were outside.

Catching our breaths, we pondered the task of dragging the thing through the passage to the studio, which involves a few more stairs. In the end, the couch ended up in the library, a sort of sunken section of the master bedroom lined with wooden book shelves. This is the area where the couch landed after we dragged it up. It would go no further.

So I sit here now writing my blog, weary from driving and listening to two mastiffs vocalizing at each other as they play. What is in the studio now is the Ikea chair we bought decades ago. At least I have my place to sit and hang with cats.

The cats have removed themselves from the bedroom to their studio kingdom. I don’t blame them. Dogs are big and curious but they are mastiffs, who equal placidity and devotion. Loud when a stranger comes into the house, but sweet seconds later.

So we have a new couch in our bedroom/library. This was never in the plans. I’d hoped the cats would enjoy it but I think they preferred the plastic wrap and plastic ties and cardboard to napping on its black fabric. So be it.


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