A Cat on My Lap

Well, it was a first for Stella, the cat we adopted two years ago. Her lap of choice belongs to Hank, who manages to stretch his legs over the coffee table for hours to accommodate her. There have been times she has considered mine when I was sitting on the other side of the couch. She would give my lap an appraisal, decide it wasn’t a right fit, and instead plopped down on the couch cushion next to my hip. But yesterday was different.

Let me backtrack a bit and tell you about Stella. She’s a Maine coon cat, who got dumped in a nearby city during Covid and found her way to a friend’s backyard, where she got fed and found shelter. But when Cris, who already had a cat, mentioned on Facebook she was looking for a home for the stray, we welcomed Stella into ours.

I believe because she was living for months in the outdoors, and due to the nature of her breed, she is a bit of a wildling. But Stella — I love to shout her name out loud — has decided it’s worthwhile to live with us.

Stella actually is a cheap cat to own. She snubbed her nose at the expensive natural cat foods we bought her in preference to a national brand, plus these snacks she is crazy about. Actually, her food of choice is the rodents she captures. Sometimes we will hear her make this special meow that means she’s got something dead in her mouth that she wants to show off. Yes, we praise her for her hunting abilities. Toys? Nah, she’s got the real thing to chase. She prefers the outdoors instead of the litterbox.

Stella comes to us when she damn feels like it but loves the attention when she does — going absolutely nuts purring as she’s petted. She spends hours cleaning and grooming her beautiful fur. One time when I was writing on the front porch, she dropped a dead mouse beside my chair and commenced to eat the entire bone-crunchy thing.

Admittedly, Stella loves Hank more than me and she shows it by sitting on his lap. Even that took some doing. It was actually our son, Zack who broke the ice. He was visiting after a run and she jumped onto his lap to smell his perspiration. Hank came next.

But it was different yesterday. I was sitting on one of our Morris chairs (hand-built by Hank) with my feet on a stool, reading Helen Matthew’s The Girl in the Van. Stella had finished eating her snacks on the coffee table when she began eyeing my lap. “Yeah, right,” I told myself. 

I was amused as Stella leaped to the arm of the chair and after studying my body more, she gingerly made her way onto my lap. Her paws, killing claws intact thankfully, kneaded me, and then she curled around, purring as I petted her. She stayed that way. I read and kept a hand on her. She slept. Dinner would be later than usual.

I stretched to get my phone to call Hank who was working in his woodshop. He laughed when he saw Stella. “It feels good to have a cat on your lap, doesn’t it?” he said.

Yes, it does.

LINKS TO MY BOOKS: While I have your attention, here’s the link to my books on Amazon, specifically the Isabel Long Mystery Series. (Yes, there’s a cat in it.) Following the Lead, no. 6, will have a Nov. 3 release. I am grateful for pre-orders as it helps with ratings.


Good-bye Two

Two is the name of the cat who lived with us for 12 years, and sadly, our time together ended Christmas Day. She was too ill and weak, and so we chose to do the humane thing. Yes, we are so sad. Let me tell you about our cat, and you will understand why.

We found Two in a shelter in Northern New Mexico called Taos Feral Feline Friends, where its director had cats live in rooms in her house, except for the feral ones who had a separate building. Leanne brought us to the so-called old and obese room, and this black cat came up to me immediately. She started talking. I told Hank, “this is the one.” He wanted to look around, a fact I reminded the cat several times.


Two on my lap from NM to Massachusetts.

We usually give our animals human names. She came with the name Dusty, but that didn’t suit us. So, we named her Two, in honor of the two best cats we owned, also black. Actually, her full name was Dusty Two Cats. (I believe she was named Dusty by her previous owners, whoever they were, because she loved to roll in dust.)

We discovered that Two, who we suspect was Burmese, was a chatterbox who tried her best to communicate with us verbally. I swear she said “no” and “I don’t wanna.” We tried but failed to get her to say “yes,” however.

She also understood when we said “eat” or “out.” I am not making this up.

Unfortunately, her previous owner had her front paws declawed — something we would never do to an animal — so we had to keep that in mind. If she wanted to go outside, we were with her, especially in Taos where coyotes are opportunity feeders.

Not having front claws also hampered her hunting abilities, but lizards were catchable. As for birds, she waited patiently until one hit the large front glass of our house and dropped to the ground.

She drove Hank nuts when she escaped inside the culvert on our driveway.

We solved that situation when he and our son, Zack, on a visit, built a secure fenced-in yard. She liked to sit beneath the tall covered gate — that’s a picture of her above  — and even once ventured onto our 36404_1503605437102_4658278_nhouse’s roof. Hank climbed a ladder to coax her down, but typically she did it when she was ready.

What else can I tell you about Two?

When Hank had hernia surgery she sat on his lap, pressed gently against the incision, earning her the name Nurse Two-Two.


Ab anxious moment for Hank watching Two on the roof of our home in Taos.

Probably because of that experience and the fact he was home more than me, she clearly favored Hank. Two and I had our relationship although it was clear I was second banana. I wasn’t hurt.

During the winter she would sleep between us, under the covers with her head on the pillow.

She loved baking in the sunlight or beside the wood stove. Another of her favorite spots was the ironing board, especially when we were trying to iron. She didn’t play with toys and typically, wanted to be in the highest spots of the house.

During our cross-country move from New Mexico to Western Mass., she spent almost all of the 2,400-mile trip on my lap after she complained vehemently about being in a carrier.

To get out attention she sat on a newspaper or book that we tried to read, or in my case, walk across the keyboard.

Two would sit on Hank’s lap, his legs extended for more than an hour while he watched TV. I was impressed. Ten minutes was my max.

She had her favorite napping spots. Last night, I looked at the chair in our front living room and 10550038_10204551590536752_4851730321312986156_oimagined her there, curled and relaxed.

The list goes on. Two was a member of our family and so much a part of our life. She trusted us. We trusted her.

This year she had two bouts of a urinary tract infection that required antibiotics. But her decline began in late fall. She was, by her records, 17 or 18 years old. She still ate and drank water but toward the end, she began distancing herself until we decided we needed to let her go.

During the past week, I think about feeding her when I get up or that she’ll be watching in the living room window when we come home. The list goes on.

As I’ve said before, the hardest part about loving an animal is losing one.

Will we get another cat? Yes, someday. But this cat will have a tough act to follow.

Good-bye, Two. We loved ya.


Our Cat’s Second Banana

Yup, that’s me. Our black cat named Two prefers my husband, Hank any day, any time, except when he’s not around, of course. I’ve learned to accept it.

Actually, right now as I write this post, Two is sitting on my lap. It is morning. I am drinking coffee. Usually, Hank is sitting across the table with the cat on his lap, but he’s away. So, I guess I’m good enough.

We found Two nearly ten years ago at the Taos Feral Feline Friends shelter run by Leanne Mitchell. Two wasn’t feral, but declawed by a previous owner — a cruel thing to do to a cat — and relegated to the old and fat room. (There are no cages at this shelter, just rooms in the Mitchell home.) The cat came right up to me. I told Hank this is the one. He chose to look around a bit, a fact I remind the cat from time to time to no avail.

Leanne gave us a bit of the cat’s history and also her real name, Dusty. We decided to name her Two because she reminded us of our two best cats, Amos and Lewis. Her full name is Dusty Two Cats.

Two settled in rather quickly. We discovered she is a talker. I’m not really nuts, but she can say, “no” and “I don’t wanna” — Hank can’t get her to say “yes” — and knows what “out” and “eat” means.

And she took to Hank, largely, I believe, because I was working and he was home. Also when he had surgery, she stuck to him like his little nurse.

When we are watching TV, Two will lie on Hank’s outstretched legs for an hour or more. I can only manage ten minutes, which might account for her preference. Then there’s the lap sitting at breakfast. She will do the same when he’s reading. (See the photo above.)

Two and I have our things. She will go a bit nuts on me with play biting and swats when I rub her down. When we drove 2,400 miles from New Mexico to Western Massachusetts this summer, she was glued to my lap almost the entire trip. Of course, I make sure she has enough food and fresh water all the time. And right now, she’s still on my lap.

But I’ve learned you can’t make a cat do what she doesn’t want to do. It’s strictly on her terms.

There have been times Hank has not been around because he was traveling to help one of our kids. The longest was six months last year. I was surprised how quickly she adapted to making me her one and only. I joked with Hank over the phone, “You are now dead to her.”

But, no surprise here, she dumped me as soon as he returned. I wasn’t hurt. It’s just the way things are with this cat.

ONE MORE THING: Thanks to the owners and authors of Crooked Cat Publishing for making me feel most welcome. For this who missed the last post, Crooked Cat will be publishing my mystery, Chasing the Case in May or June. Yes, given this post, I recognize the irony in the publishing house’s name.

ONE LAST THING: Here is a link for my books for sale on Amazon, including my most recent, The Sweet Spot, set in Western Mass. They’re not free, but they are for the taking. Check them out: