Cat politics

I hope the estrangement between my cat, Admiral Janeway, and me is over.

On Tuesday, there were two long petting sessions. But she still scampered across the bed rather than cuddling up to me or nestling in the crook of my knees (the latter being her erstwhile favorite spot). And when the Captain, our more recent addition,[1] also showed up on Tuesday, wanted to be petted, and seemed to be reclaiming his home after three days without a trace (yes, he’s been neutered), it seemed like she didn’t want to be in my room at all. My room has apparently been a point of contention between the two, and he is now bigger than she is.

On Wednesday, I drove my mother up to Sacramento and stayed the night (her business was on Thursday morning), leaving the situation up in the air. I normally like visiting—I wouldn’t want to live in the summer heat—Sacramento; it has a number of very nice places for vegans to eat, especially the Plum Cafe and Bakery. My motel room was fine, actually pretty quiet considering the motel was right on 16th Street which is a main drag leading to North Sacramento, but I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep.

Fueled with coffee, we returned late Thursday afternoon. Admiral Janeway greeted us in front, but after I’d gotten settled and taken a whack at email, I noticed she still hadn’t come in. This is unusual; our front yard is contested territory among neighborhood cats and the Admiral has been chased up her cat ladder back into my room on numerous occasions. She normally only goes out to take care of business (she doesn’t like litter boxes) and then comes back in.

The next part of this is laden with symbolism, which we are to understand is irrelevant because non-human animals are generally thought incapable of abstract reasoning. But Admiral Janeway is different.[2].

It was dark out and I went out without a flashlight. She called to me. I found her, not quite where I’d thrown her—there are a couple rather nasty shrubs that could easily account for her scrapes there—but beneath the shrubs in front of my window (there are, in my opinion, far too many shrubs and nowhere near enough trees in our front yard) that partially hide the cat ladder from view and which also obstructed my view of where I was throwing her—I had meant for her to land on grass.[3]

Picking up Admiral Janeway has always been an issue. I think it causes her discomfort and I have learned to cradle her hind legs in a way that allows her to put a significant portion of her weight on them. But sometimes I think she wants to be picked up. And this time she put up token resistance—I had to pet her and try three times to pick her up. And then I carried her back into the house without resistance. She then acquiesced to another long petting session at the dining room table.

I was tired and so I went to bed extremely uncharacteristically early, once again picking her up, once again facing token resistance, and bringing her into my room.

She promptly wanted to hide in the closet. I let her. She didn’t stay long. She came out, got a drink of water and something to eat, and then seemed to hesitate before jumping onto my bed, which is pretty much in the way of anyplace she’d want to go (except out front) from there, in a way that made me think she wasn’t satisfied with landing on the comforter. I pulled aside my covers and she jumped onto the sheet, then crawled under the covers. She has done this in the past, but never for long. I’ve assumed she didn’t like the smell or the air was stuffy. This time she stayed for hours.

But I was too tired to keep my leg up forming a sort of tent for her, so I eventually turned onto my side to go to sleep. She came out, tried cozying up, again under the covers by my chest, and then came out and settled on my pillow. This is unprecedented. She’s never paid my pillows much mind. Mostly, they’re hard for her to walk across because her feet sink too deep into them. But now, here she was, nuzzling my face. She even washed the left side of my face twice. She spent the night there and I slept better than I have for weeks.

We’re still trying to figure out what to do about the Captain. We certainly love him but the conflict with Admiral Janeway is difficult to know how to deal with. I’ll probably be keeping my door closed more when he’s around. In the meantime, as I write this, she’s sitting on that pillow, except now she’s got my attention.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A new housemate,” May 16, 2012,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “About Admiral Janeway (my cat),” August 20, 2011,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A bully is getting bullied,” October 26, 2012,; David Benfell, “A saga of cats continues,” October 30, 2012,

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