Lately I’m worried that my cat may be biting off more than she can chew. I’ve written before about her work formulating a theory of gravity, and the time she spends conducting an extensive sleep study, the purpose of which I’m still not clear on. The last few weeks, apparently unfulfilled by her inquiries in physics and sleep medicine, she’s also shown interest in cave exploration.
By “cave exploration,” I should clarify, I mean “crawling around under the covers.” She takes it very seriously, though, much more like a serious caver than a cat. Jumping onto the bed, she will identify a potential point of entry, a wrinkle in the comforter, a fold that arches the sheets above the mattress an inch or two. Cautiously, she will approach and examine the fissure, sniffing all around it, probing inside with a paw. She’s ascertaining the structural integrity of the fold, I assume. Satisfied that it’s a stable opening, she’ll back up a foot or two, settle back low on her haunches, the muscles in her back legs tensed and ready to spring. Her tail flicks back and forth, her whiskers twitch up and down, and when the moment seizes her she fucking dives head-first through the hole and pulls herself under the covers.
Beyond that point, my contact with her is minimal. I can follow her progress through the cave by watching the lump she creates beneath the covers, like Bugs Bunny tunnelling beneath the Earth en route to his fateful wrong turn at Alburquerque, but attempts at vocal contact only seem to upset her. Maybe it’s that she can’t make out where my disembodied voice is coming from. Whatever the reason, she usually chooses to quit the cave as soon as possible, usually by running to the edge of the bed and dropping onto the floor.
The fact that Ottie’s become a caver at all is pretty impressive. Ashley and I used to play with her by tossing the covers over her, or picking her up and placing her beneath the comforter. She always seemed to hate it, but perhaps it also piqued an interest that she’s only lately found the nerve to explore. I don’t object, but I do worry from time to time. She’s got so much else on her plate — the sleep study, the ongoing gravity experiments (just yesterday she conducted a lengthy experiment that involved knocking the magnetic letters off the refrigerator) — that I’m concerned she might not be able to keep her mind on what she’s doing while in-cave. Her ambition to be the feline Isaac Newton is fine with me, even a little exciting. I just hope she doesn’t wind up the feline Floyd Collins first.