Regular readers of this blog know that a cat came out of the woods in the coldest days of January to live with us. Reading back, I see that we first thought Winter was a male. Then we changed our minds. Does thinking make something true? She is a very affectionate animal. She sleeps at night in the utility room where her food and pan are kept convenient. (And her bed of polar fleece…) This is because our house is open and for years I woke to the requirements of our household, children and animals included. I could hear every skitter, every nightmare, every call for water. Now I want to sleep. I don’t want to listen to a cat on the kitchen counters or else racing around the way they do in the dark. (All our earlier cats were nocturnal. They loved to knock things over and sneak about at night.) So once John’s fed her in the morning, she runs up to join me in my bed where she’ll find me drinking my first cup of coffee. And the thing is, I know her. She’s affectionate, as I wrote, and she loves to lie alongside me and have her stomach rubbed. She has gentle paws. A lovely face, with beautiful dark-lined eyes.
Last night, as I was reading in bed, before it was time to take her down to her own bed, I glanced over and saw her washing her…penis. So our months with
her him have been a time of Shakespearean subterfuge? In our defense, I have to say that this cat’s colouring is complicated. And under the tale tail (you can tell I’m having trouble with pronouns, and more, this morning)? More complicated still, as everything is dappled. So what could be a little bulge (is a bulge, as it turns out) looked like spots. It will take some time for me to think of Winter as anything but a sweet girl but of course it doesn’t matter. I woke this morning thinking of Shakespeare’s deep understanding of the fluidity of gender and remembered all the mornings I greeted the cat with, “You’re a lovely girl, aren’t you?” And you know, she he didn’t once agree. Or disagree.
Oh Time, thou must untangle this, not I.
It is to hard a know for me t’ untie.
(Viola, in Twelfth Night)