Ron Wiggleworth

I was sitting on the end of the bed when he climbed up the stairs and looked into the bedroom.

“Good afternoon young lady; it’s about time you got up.”

What did he expect, I’m sixteen going on seventeen; I need my sleep. Anyway, I didn’t get home until eleven-thirty last night; he should know, he opened the door to let me in. Besides it was Sunday and only a few minutes past noon. It wasn’t as if I’d slept the whole day away.

I waited for him at the head of the stairs while he went into his dressing room to change. He emerged wearing a tracksuit; he was relaxing for the rest of the day. We went downstairs together and I followed him out the back door. He held it open for me; he always does. We walked to the undercover area at the back of the house and there it was, his book in the middle of my sun lounge. He was using my sun lounge . . . again. I’ve used it my whole life, it’s my sun lounge and now when I want to relax for the afternoon in the fresh air, he’s using it, and he’s been doing it to me almost every day for the past two weeks.

In good weather, summer, spring and early autumn, the lounge is my bed from around nine in the morning to roughly two in the afternoon, depending on how I feel on the day. If the weather is a little off, like it is today, I use it in the middle of the day. . . once the air temperature has risen. When the Melbourne weather turns sour, is frigidly cold and rains all day I stay indoors as I did this morning —either on the heater vent in the lounge room or buried in their doona. It’s a lovely, soft covering that can be pummelled into a delightful bed. I’m not completely stupid, I don’t go out if it’s cold. But I always use the sun lounge if the weather is good. I don’t use it every day, that’s true, my use is seasonal, but I do use it. . . and it’s mine.

Last Friday I was enjoying the warm early autumn weather dozing on my sun lounge in the sphinx position, front legs tucked under my chest and buried in my fur, my tail curled around my body when he came out at midday carrying a plate, a coffee mug and his damn book. He placed the plate and cup on the old wooden stool he uses as a table, straddled the sun lounge and shuffled backward. When he was over the handrails and could sit between them the backrest and me, he did. Then he wriggled into position with me between his legs. It has been the same routine for the past ten days and always the same aggravation; my catnap is interrupted.

If I’m comfortable, and he’s been particularly nice to me, fed me, groomed me, done all the things a good cat servant should, I will stay there and lie between his legs. It makes him feel good to have me near while he reads. It’s no big deal for me, I just go back to sleep. But if I feel really shitty andI’m having a bad day or he hasn’t done his duties, I spring daintily off the lounge and go for a wander. I know it annoys the crap out of him and he always tries to coax me back. If I relent and come near, he tries to pat my head or play with my ears. “Here Tiff, come on Sweetie, come and sit here”, as he pats the cushion between his legs. But I know how long his arms are to the exact millimetre and can easily stay out of reach.

Of course, if he has cheese in his biscuits or roast beef in his sandwich that’s a different matter. I will always forgo my feline principles for a nibble of cheese or a scrap of beef— and he always shares. It’s like he wants to bribe me to be nice to him.

Who does he think he is?

He should know by now that he’s my servant, at my beck and call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The woman in the house —- the one who makes the bed around me when I’m sleeping on their doona — often reprimands him, “It’s your fault, you know. You spoil her. If she wants something you go running. You open doors for her, let her in or out on demand, you mound the food in her bowl so her whiskers stay clean — you’re her slave. Anyone would think she’s more important to you than me.”

Now that’s the one thing that is indisputable — I am the most important — I am number one — I am the cat princess. . . and I rule.