Today, we will be disrupting our cat’s well ordered lives. The sofa that has been in the living room for their entire lives, the sofa that has been the sleeping pad for one of them for years, is being removed in order to make space for two new recliners that will be coming in later in the week. This sofa has served as a landing pad as they bound up to the window overlooking our porch and front yard. From this perch they survey their terrain, watching the birds and squirrels at the feeders in the winter, and issuing guttural growls whenever the neighbor’s cat comes across the street and invades their territory.

We have two black cats, brothers who we think were dropped off in our neighborhood in January of 2005. They took up residence in a neighbor’s old car across the street. Lyle told us about them, and we were able to take them in. For most of their lives, they’ve been the younger cats out of four that we’ve had. But we lost the older tabbies (23 and 19 years of age) in late 2015/ early 2016, so now they are the sole proprietors of the house (except for us). These cats are brothers, but one is fat, and one is muscular. Still, when you see them run down the stairs towards the food bowl when the automated slot machine feeder pays off, the familial relationship is evident.

These cats do love to go outside when the weather is warm. Since I’ve retired, it seems like sometimes it is my ultimate purpose in life to satisfy their need to go in and out. Often times, one goes out while the other comes in at the same time. I like that. It means we have established catquilibrium in the world. We are balanced in the yin and the yang of cats inside and outside.

Though they are brothers, they have distinctly different personalities. The bigger cat is the one who seeks out laps. He also loves to knead my legs with his claws. I have tiny pinpricks all over my legs where he has kneaded me continuously for several minutes before he settles down and goes to sleep. The leaner cat is my puppy dog. He is the one who pushes open the door of the bathroom if it not latched, and jumps onto the counter to rub up against me, then waits for me to turn on the fountain for him. The lean cat is not a lap sitter, but is the one who will sleep with us some nights.

Both of them, though, share one trait. They are scaredy-cats. We’ve had a cleaning lady who comes every two weeks. Same person their entire lives. As soon as the doorbell rings upon her arrival, they sprint downstairs and hide until she leaves. She has scarcely seen them all of the years of her working for us.

We are now facing a more difficult time with the boys. Their last check-up showed both had developed thyroid hyperactivity. So we are now on a diet plan with very expensive low iodine food and are having to restrict access to any other food. The leaner cat is the one that is feeling this the most, since he is the one that loved human food. Cheese, bacon, eggs, chicken, steak, you name it, he was an inveterate beggar. Having to wean him cold turkey (none of that either) from table scraps has been a challenge. We’ve taken to providing low-iodine canned food and giving them a portion of a can when we eat as a bit of a compensation for not being able to share in our meals. The issues with food may preclude us from getting any more cats while these two are with us since it would be nigh unto impossible to segregate food sources and feeding times between the older and newer cats.

Pets do change us. By sharing our living space, and our time and energy, they force us to pay attention to someone other than ourselves. I find it difficult to fully trust someone who would not be willing to give attention and love to an animal in their lives. By the way, did you know that Donald Trump is the only president in living memory to not share the White House with a pet? Just saying.

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