Cats are aloof, I thought. Not Emily, delivered to me for safekeeping by my sister and brother-in-law prior to their month-long trip to Australia.
Emily became my shadow. As I write this piece, she is sitting in my lap, nibbling on the writing pad.
Emily is black, with white markings on her face, chest, stomach, and paws.
Our day together starts at 6 a.m., when she nudges me with her head, expecting me to leap out of bed and feed her. No way is she going to get me to leave my warm bed on a cold morning one second sooner than necessary, no matter how piteous her look. She relents and lies on the bed until I am ready to rise.
At breakfast, it is a challenge to eat an English muffin and read the newspaper with Emily in my lap.
Sometimes she meows. Not liking complainers, I meow right back. She gives me a puzzled look. My neighbor's cat across the hall joins the chorus of meows.
One day Emily disappears. This is not easy to do in my small apartment. I check the sixth-floor hallway, just in case she wandered out while the front door was open, and look under the bed. No Emily.
I find her exploring my closet. For New Yorkers who live without attics or cellars, a closet contains a lifetime's accumulation. Exciting discoveries are to be found there.
I admire Emily's athleticism. She is no youngster. But she leaps from couch to chair like an Olympian.
During the night, she jumps on and off my bed. Each of her landings awakens me. Friends suggest I close the bedroom door. This would be cruel. I am out of the apartment 12 or more hours a day. Emily wants attention and affection when I return. Besides, shutting the door in her face would provoke hours of meowing.
Postscript: Emily has returned home. Unlocking my apartment door last night, I heard a meow. I smiled. But it was the cat next door. She also misses Emily.