It was late last night – must have been a quarter of three in the morning. I was soundly asleep when I was awakened by a noise. It wasn’t loud or disturbing in any way – it was barely even audible – but it was one of those sounds that you immediately recognize as familiar, even mundane, yet completely out of the moment’s context. That’s what tweaked my brain out of its slumber. It was a soft, periodic shushing noise accompanied by a whispering murmur. A turning of pages and a silent reading of passages to oneself. But there was no one awake to be reading – and there was no light by which to do so in any event. Slowly, cautiously, I grabbed a small flashlight that I keep by the bed, aimed it in the direction of the sound, and turned it on.
Tilly, my youngest cat, was so startled that her spectacles leaped from her head; the book she was reading dropped to the ground. After a deer-in-the-headlights moment, Tilly turned and bolted off to parts unknown, embarassed beyond her ability to dismiss with a simple look and a sniff.
How remarkable, I thought as I rousted myself out of bed to have a closer look at the book. It lay open on the floor at the foot of the bed; Tilly hadn’t managed to read very far in. I turned it over. The simple black Times font on the front announced its title:
So You’ve Co-opted a Human: An Ownership Guide for Cats
The careworn cover was plain and unassuming. The pages were yellowed and dog-eared. There was no attribution, no picture, not even a description or blurb on the back. Curious, I turned to the preface.
Well, I thought as I closed the book and tucked it into a secure spot for later review. This certainly explains a lot.