The cat has been sleeping all day, rising a couple of times for a drink of water, then returning to the living room chair she has chosen for her prolonged nap. This is the first time in months that she has spent the day sleeping there, rather than in my room. Asleep, she is much the same picture she has always been, peaceful and relaxed; but on her brief forays to the water bowl her movements are stiff and awkward, and when she mews at all the sound is low and plaintive. She is as faded as the vanished day.
I wonder if she is dreaming, and of what? Maybe she has spent the day stalking birds or gophers, or playing with her four kittens (all but one of whom she has outlived.) Maybe she dreams of her long-ago encounter with a raccoon, from which her back still carries a series of long scars. Maybe she is merely dreaming of her lost youthful agility, running and leaping, climbing trees, walking surefootedly along the narrow rail of a wooden fence. Maybe she dreams of being snuggled and petted, purring with satisfaction after a good meal. I wonder if she has any idea what is happening to her? Yesterday, as the light faded, she went out for a few minutes and sniffed a few of her old familiar haunts and nibbled a bit of grass. That may have been her last trip outdoors.
In a few minutes, I will close the drapes of the dimmed room, and the window, which now reveals only darkness, will be concealed until morning, and the song of crickets will be dampened. The cat lies in the chair, no longer concerned with what I do. She flicks a whisker, and her tail twitches. Does she dream of seeing a tasty mouse? An appealing wad of paper to be batted about? One of my socks to be tossed into the air? However long the night, pleasant dreams, sweet cat.