What Cats Do (Part 1)

First, cats who weigh over 20 pounds eat a lot . . . and often.

Take our illustrious King Solomon, for instance. He knows when it's feeding time. Right on schedule, every morning at 5, he lumbers from his sleeping perch atop the loveseat and makes his way up my bed with stealth. It's dark and he's heavy, so he stumbles over my legs and knees until he finds his footing on my stomach (oof!). Bound and ever determined, he creeps and crawls his way forward . . . until he reaches the nesting place on which he rests his bouldering frame: my chest.

Quite satisfied with this gymnastic feat across my sea of blankets, he settles his soft front paws at my chin and then shoves his whiskered face into my mouth and nose. Then he begins to breathe. Very loudly. Like a motor that can't stop running. Like an engine that needs some work. You know, the kind that gurgles and heaves while it idles nervously through the interminable moments at the stop light.

At this point, we play a little game. I give him what I wish he came for -- some undivided affection from me -- and he tolerates this for about 3 minutes. He pushes his furry cheek into the palm of my hand, for instance, when I move from massaging his flat head to rubbing the side of his cheek, and then he stretches his stubby neck heavenward when I scratch the underside of his chin.

But eventually comes the moment of reckoning -- the moment when he leaps from my chest, pushing all 20 pounds of himself into my fragile and flattened sternum, and ambles over to the food dish. Only to discover it is empty. Only to return to my bedside and sit on his haunches and let out an impatient huff.

And then he begins to chirp. That's right, chirp. The regal, self-contained, and very masculine King Solomon chirps for his bowl of porridge in the morning. And won't stop until I give it to him.